Sheldonian heads ‘gagged’ in midnight immigration demo

first_imgThe statues surrounding the Sheldonian were ‘gagged’ in a protest early on Thursday morning by students campaigning against a proposed detention centre outside Bicester. The same group was also responsible for a dmonstration in Oxford the next afternoon.Meeting at just after midnight, ten protesters affiliated with the Students Action for Refugees climbed into the area behind the Clarendon Building and proceeded to climb onto each other’s shoulders and tie white sheets around the mouths of eight of the statues. A banner was then spread, with the slogan “30 minutes from here 200 men are locked up indefinitely.”The organiser of the protest explained the thought behind the stunt: “It’s symbolic because people in the detention centre have no voice. The centres are a waste of lives. Some of the people in there are our age or even younger.”The protesters justified using University property in their campaign, “This isn’t so much to do with the University but with students here. We are becoming increasingly apathetic and don’t fight for people’s rights anymore.”Another student involved added, “People pay more attention when English people do this.”One of the protesters who put up the gags commented, “there are countless talks about Campsfield, speaker events and debates in Parliament but no one cares.”Three police cars arrived fifteen minutes after the gags went up and four policemen demanded that the protesters remove their banners and gags. One of officers said, “we were called to the scene by the University Security Services. They didn’t want their property damaged.”A student who was apprehended by the police described his shock at their swift arrival at the scene: “I don’t know how the police noticed, although it is an insane visual.” He added, “they said to me, ‘we have to be careful, with all these protests going on, you never know what protesters are going to do.’”The police left ten minutes after arriving, but continued to circulate around Broad Street. While they did not issue a formal warning to the students, a photo was taken of the group. “This term has proved direct action is an indispensable weapon,” said one of the protest’s leaders, “Normally, tactics aren’t normally thought through. A petition to Guantanamo every week doesn’t solve anything. Stunts attract attention.”A passer-by remarked, “I definitely think this was effective. It’s horrible to say, but I never heard of this issue before. It’s not in your face, but its noticeable. This experience has opened my eyes and I will look into the campaign further.”However, another onlooker was more sceptical, adding, “that it all came down makes them walk home with their tail between their legs. It would have been better later in the day say while people are on the way to lectures.”After the banners were taken down, the organiser of the protests was confident that an effective statement had been made, saying, “it was still an absolute victory. I thought it was good aesthetically but when it went up it provided it a thousand fold.”James Norrie, a Wadham second-year and member of the Oxford Radical Forum was present at the march in the city centre on Thursday afternoon. He said, “if change is going to happen, mass action is necessary. Stunts by far change less.”A third year student from Magdalen, Luke Roelofs, refuted this. “This is part of a wider movement of which we are all working together.”One of the night protesters present explained, “Last night was a precursor. It was a symbolic visual display to draw attention. Now, we are being more vocal and explicit. We are trying to attract attention. At a certain level that’s all we can do.”The afternoon march started in the same spot as the gagging. Over thirty students shouted slogans and marched to Bonn Square to hear a prominent anti-detention speaker, Bill MacKeith.Charlie Holt, President of the Oxford Union temporarily joined in on the march. He said, “I’ve been working for Oxford Students for Liberty for ages now. I feel passionately about this. This is a way for us to get a message across.”He added, “I had no idea about last night’s stunt. I’m just here trying to get others to join in.”MacKeith supported the statue gagging. He said, “It gave a symbol of the old University a new relevance.”A similar protest happened in 1995. Oxford students placed sheets over all the statues, which stayed on for eight hours. Suke Walton, who was involved that protest and was present at the march said, “some stunts are more successful than others. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do it. It’s hard.”A University spokesperson reacted the to demonstrations by saying, “Oxford strongly supports the right for students to protest within the law.” However they added, “we cannot confirm that the Proctors will not be involved.”The Proctors office said, “four students were asked to leave and they promptly did so. We are not considering taking further action.”The University Security Services declined to comment on the matter.last_img read more

Ocean City Powderpuff Football Shares Joy

first_imgBy LESLEY GRAHAMWednesday night at Ocean City’s turf stadium, the usual sights and sounds of a Friday night football game were taking place.Coaches debating calls, primetime plays, the joys of victory and the agony of defeat. But this wasn’t any ordinary high school football game. Instead, the third annual Ocean City High School Powderpuff football game pitted high school juniors versus seniors in an all-girl showing for who would be crowned queen of the turf.The Key Club, a service-oriented club at the high school that provides opportunities for students to get involved in the community while volunteering their time, hosted the game.Red Team (Seniors) “Gym Class Heroes.”Five teams participated, while current OCHS football players served as student coaches, helping guide their teams to wins, and the occasional loss. It was a round robin style tournament with each team meeting once and then the top two seeded teams playing for the 2020 title.Meeting in the championship game was the senior team “Hot Shots” and the juniors “Nothing but Defense.”  In a hotly contested championship, “Nothing but Defense” lived up to its name, creating turnovers and taking the glittering football trophy and bragging rights for the year.Junior quarterback Olivia Vanesko was thrilled playing in and winning the championship.“It felt awesome playing in the championship. We came up with some strategies and used our strengths to beat a very athletic senior team and take the title,” Vanesko said.Blue Team (Seniors) “Puff and Stuff.”Ashley Schmid, advisor to the Key Club, was grateful so many members of the school community came together to make the event possible.Schmid also took a moment to thank the Key Club executive board for its tireless effort.“I’m extremely proud of my president senior Vanessa Karayiannis and vice president Grace Gleason for organizing the event. They will be missed next year,” Schmid said.Pink Team (Seniors) “Hot Shots.”With a limited number of school functions taking place this year due to the pandemic, Schmid wanted to make sure there was a safe and fun opportunity for the kids to feel a sense of normalcy.Senior Chelsea Stack was grateful for the chance to play, despite not winning.“It was great to have an event back from last year to make life seem normal again. Even though we didn’t win, I know we were all just grateful to be able to play,” Stack said.Black Team (Juniors) “Nothing but Defense,” the Powderpuff champions.Athletic Director Geoff Haines and Assistant Principal Jerry Brown served as referees for the games, John Bruno did a fantastic job announcing with additional play-by-play color commentary, and a number of high school teachers, administrators and staff helped pull the event together.“I love this event because of how many people it involves: the players, the assistant coaches (football players), the coaches (teachers), Key Club volunteers, administration, and the fans,” Schmid said. “The girls look forward to this event every year, and it’s great to see how happy it makes them. It also feels good knowing we are helping out local families by donating the proceeds to Waves of Caring.”The event raised over $250 for the local organization Waves of Caring as well as Key Club senior scholarships.Purple Team (Juniors). From left, presenting the fundraising check for Waves of Caring are Advisor Ashley Schmid, Assistant Principal/Referee Jerry Brown, Key Club President Vanessa Karayiannis, Vice President Grace Gleason and Athletic Director/Referee Geoff Haines.last_img read more

Patisserie Valerie sales up 16% as store openings continue

first_imgPatisserie Valerie owner Patisserie Holdings has reported double-digit increases in revenue and profits.Announcing its first half-year results to 31 March 2017, the business reported total revenue up 11% year on year to £55.5m and pre-tax profits up 15.7% to £9.7m.Revenue growth was driven by Patisserie Valerie – up 15.7% to £40.4m – with sales from the group’s other brands up 0.6%.The business said it was continuing to target 20 new store openings per year, and had opened 10 in the past half-year. These are a mix of counter and full-menu offerings in locations ranging from high-streets, retail parks and concessions. Patisserie Holdings also opened its first store under the Philpotts brand it acquired in 2014.“All of our new openings are profitable from the first week of trading and are all funded from operating cash flows,” stated the company.Reporting a strong seasonal sales period, the company said sales from its winter menu were up more than 160%, while it had sold more than 103,000 mince pies. Over the half-year, the group’s Cakeclub loyalty club membership rose by 22,000 members to 383,000.The results announcement comes a month after the business kicked off a 12-week trial to supply 12 Sainsbury’s stores with Patisserie Valerie (PV) product sold in store from PV branded counters at the same price they sell in the PV outlets.Patisserie Holdings reported that food costs were now stabilising following an inflationary period in the first half.“We are continually working on our supply chain to ensure we buy at the best market prices and have fixed price contracts on a number of key lines,” it added. “With further improvements in our supply chain and operational gearing from the growing group, we expect our gross margin to be broadly constant to the end of the year.”The business has also been impacted by the National Minimum and National Living Wage, but said it had limited this through more effective rostering in stores. It said the wage increases brought in last month had added £0.5m to its wage bill.“We have delivered another strong set of results with growth in both revenues and profit and excellent cash conversion despite the challenging market conditions and the current inflationary environment,” said executive chairman Luke Johnson.“We have opened 10 new stores including our first international store in the Republic of Ireland, and the pipeline to the end of the year to achieve our target of 20 new store openings is on track.“With a strong balance sheet and an experienced management team, we remain operationally focused on the organic delivery and continue to assess acquisition opportunities.”Performance in the six weeks following the results period end has been good with a strong Easter period, reported the company.last_img read more