WEEKLY ROUNDUP: STORMZY AND WHALES

The ‘Stormzy effect’ at Cambridge

Cambridge University has released figures showing that black students made up more than 3% of new undergraduates. Cambridge said 91 black British students had been admitted as first-year undergraduates at the start of the academic year, an increase, an increase of nearly 50% compared with last year’s 61 students. This change in demographic has been partly attributed to Grime star Stormzy, who pledged to set up two scholarships to support black British students at the university, and followed up with an announcement later this year that he would fund the tuition fees and living expenses of a further two students. Cambridge said that after Stormzy made his offer in 2018, the university “has seen an increase in the number of black students engage in its outreach activities and enquire about its courses”, leading to increasing numbers of applications. Other factors are the involvement of student societies, crucially the Cambridge Afro-Caribbean Society who do a lot of access work, as noted by Stormzy in a recent tweet.– Zehra

 

Whale in the Thames died from a shipstrike

Last weekend ‘Hessy’ the humpback, a ten metre long juvenile female whale was spotted swimming slowly in the Dartford area of the Thames. At the time, it was reported that she seemed healthy, and there was hope she might find her own way back to sea. A team of volunteers began tracking Hessy on Sunday morning. They followed her to Grays, in the Essex area, where they said she stopped swimming. Post mortems revealed that Hessy had a large wound indicative of a ship strike. Although it wasn’t clear whether this happened before or after her death. Whales in the Thames tend not to have a very high success rate of getting out. The bottlenose whale which made it all the way to London in 2006, alongside a further two humpbacks in 2009 and 2013 all met their ends. Last year though, a beluga nicknamed ‘Benny the Beluga’ survived for months in the estuary region before finding his way back to sea. –Scarlet

 

Turkey attacks Kurdish fighters 

This Wednesday Turkey began an invasion into northeastern Syria. The Turkish assault targets Kurdish People’s Protection Group (YPG) that Turkish president Erdoğan has declared a terror threat. The YPG forces had until recently been at ceasefire with Turkey in order for the two to effectively combat ISIS, but the Turkish assault has left the Kurds fighting on two fronts.

The assault makes good on one of Ankara’s threats to push Kurds out of the region of Syria that borders Turkey. While the YPG themselves have never previously had quarrels with Turkey, Erdoğan views the YPG as an extension of Kurdish rebels that have been fighting the Turkish government for decades. According to the International Rescue Committee, “a military offensive could immediately displace at least 300,000 people and disrupt life-saving humanitarian services”. The UN estimates that at least 130,000 people have already fled their homes following the Turkish assault.- Neil

 

Art by: Ng Wei Kai. Words by: Zehra Munir, Scarlet Katz Roberts, and Neil Natarajan