Does ‘Freshed Up’ party need freshening up?

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Numerous University organisations are having doubts on the current structure of Freshed Up, the annual Freshers Week party.

On behalf of TDM 2000, Owen Bonello requested an urgent meeting with all interested organisations to discuss the future of this event. At the meeting held today, organisation representatives brought up the lack of input their organisations will have in the preparations building up to the party.

The other organisations backing up TDM are ELSA, GħSL, SDM, PULSE, MMSA, UESA, SACES, ESN, ASCS and JEF.

Freshed Up has been tentatively scheduled for 3rd October, and aims at having all University organisations welcoming students to the upcoming scholastic year, particularly first years.

Bonello questioned the selection of the current organising committee. It includes Steve Vella from Science Students’ Society (S-Cubed) and Becky Dalli from Malta Health Student Association (MHSA), both who were present at the meeting. Both said they have no problem in including more people from different organisations to help out with preparations.

The University Students Council (KSU) are prepared to take on the event themselves and rename it, but still leave the preparation logistics to all interested organisations.

Although the Freshed Up organising committee do not agree with this proposal, they will leave it up to the organisations to decide individually whether they want the current team or KSU to take over.

Another forum to further discuss the issue will be held later this month.

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KSU and Pulse lock horns at first KPS meeting

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The University Students’ Council (KSU) expressed its disappointment at Pulse for communicating with UMASA during the collective agreement issue, when Pulse had said that they will let KSU settle the issue themselves.

This discussion came about during a Social Policy (KPS) meeting organised today at Skyparks, the first of a series of meetings aimed at informing and getting feedback from the over 50 University organisations.

KSU president Gayle Lynn Callus demanded an explanation from any Pulse representatives who were present.

Joseph Masini, for Pulse, said they felt UMASA was the central stakeholder in the negotiations, and believed communicating with them personally would ease negotiations. In response, Callus said that he hopes Pulse consults KSU whenever it decides to take similar steps in the future.

This all occurred during a presentation, planned to have a small part on the agenda, about KSU’s reaction to the collective agreement that was settled a few days ago.

The aim of this first KPS meeting was to launch the Speak Up campaign with representatives from University organisations. Seven different committees will be meeting from mid August as part of this project, which will be discussing topics like migration and drug decriminalization.

The two main sub-committees, that will be drawing up preliminary reports throughout the scholastic year, will address health and the environment.

Becky Micallef, Social Policy Commissioner, acknowledged Insite for suggesting the creation of a committee to discuss the right to privacy, after controversy that emerged earlier this year about Vodafone giving information about their clients to the police.

Social Policy Coordinator Andrew Muscat opened discussions about the possibility of live streaming future meetings, and of establishing a KSU core group. Both issues will be addressed further in the next KPS meeting.

Maria Micallef, on behalf of the Victim Support Group, was also present at the meeting. She gave a short presentation about the NGO’s plans to collaborate with KSU and any other interested organisations.

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Miyazaki – the filmmaker everyone should know

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(A beautiful soundtrack from Miyazaki’s ‘Castle in the Sky’)

Many consider him to be the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney. But to fans of anime, and animated movies in general, prized director Hayao Miyazaki is in a league of his own.

He’s been revolutionizing animation since his early projects in the late 80s, including one of the films in the popular ‘Lupin the Third’ series. In 1985, he established Studio Ghibli; a collaborative effort with other renowned Japanese filmmakers.

Unfortunately, last year Miyazaki announced his retirement from the business aged 73, with the farewell piece ‘The Wind Rises’. It ended up being his third Oscar nominated picture, losing to Disney’s ‘Frozen’. His legacy will live on through his son Goro Miyazaki, who has already directed the critically acclaimed ‘From Up On Poppy Hill’, although it is doubtful whether his cinematography will come even remotely close to the quality of his father’s.

Through masterful English dubbing that remains faithful to the original Japanese screenplay, Miyazaki’s films have transpired into global phenomenons.

In other words, if you love cinema and have never heard of Miyazaki or his movies, you need to binge on them immediately.

If you cannot understand what all the fuss about Miyazaki is about, these are five of his masterpieces which you should definitely check out:


1. Castle In The Sky (1986):

One of Miyazaki’s first features was also one of his most imaginative, with mesmerising animation and a spine-tingling score.

Like many of his later projects, environmental themes of climate change and man’s destruction of nature play an important role in ‘Castle In The Sky’.

It follows a boy and a girl from different worlds but with a common mission; to find the long-lost magical land of Laputa.

Throughout their journey, the children encounter countless friends and foes, and come to appreciate the beauty of being adventurous and chasing their dreams.

Personal rating: 9/10

Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky (1986)


2. My Neighbor Totoro (1988):

Often misconceived as merely childish, this cartoon was revolutionary in more ways than one.

‘Totoro’ has arguably become one of the most recognisable anime characters, and eventually earned a place as Studio Ghibli’s mascot.

This movie is a particular favourite among those parents who want to show their children an animation that isn’t typically Western. However, this does not mean it is solely directed towards a younger audience.

As two sisters move out to the countryside with their father and discover mythical creatures, serious subject matters emerge including sibling rivalry and family sickness.

Despite being one of Miyazaki’s shortest films, it manages to let the imagination of viewers of all ages run wild.

After all, it doesn’t hurt to retain our childish wonder every once in a while.

Personal rating: 7/10

My Neighbour Totoro

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)


3. Princess Mononoke (1997):

Known as Miyazaki’s only animation that is unsuitable for the whole family, ‘Princess Mononoke’ evokes powerful environmental messages alongside stunning visuals and exciting action sequences.

Not afraid to be gory and dramatic, this movie has become one of Studio Ghibli’s most influential.

With strong-willed female protagonists and the recurring theme of man versus nature, an epic war film comes to life in cartoon form, and it’s just as entertaining as any other live-action picture.

Personal rating: 8/10

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke (1997)


4. Spirited Away (2001):

Winning an Oscar and becoming Studio Ghibli’s biggest commercial success definitely contributed to the massive acclaim of ‘Spirited Away’.

Brimming with fantastic imagination and an utterly beautiful score, this is where any stranger to Miyazaki’s work should start.

Despite its extraordinary fantasy throughout, the film manages to remain relatable and touching.

The vast array of diverse characters distinguishes this animated film from all the others, and it is extremely interesting to see Chihiro, the female protagonist, develop from cowardly to brave.

Putting Studio Ghibli on the world map like never before, it is no wonder that fellow filmmakers have called this Miyazaki’s best work.

Personal rating: 10/10

Spirited Away

Spirited Away (2001)


5. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004):

Apart from its complex and slightly confusing plot, this relatively recent effort from the director offers a visual feast of animation, particularly with the titular mechanical castle.

Nominated for an Academy Award, and having Christian Bale as part of the English dubbing cast, resulted in yet another successful Ghibli movie, even if it lacks the resilient strength of its predecessors.

The gist of the storyline itself is quite out of the ordinary – main character Sophie, a teenage girl, is cursed with permanent old age, and seeks the help of renowned wizard Howl to break the spell.

Everything mystical and magical ensues, a love story unfolds and a heart-warming tale of bravery solidifies.

Basically, this film is so beautifully versatile that it can suit almost any taste.

Personal rating: 7/10

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

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KSU has no reserves on protesting

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Student protests are not being ruled out as a response to the stagnation in the publication of results. The University Students’ Council (KSU) said they will take all steps necessary to protect basic rights of the student population during a press conference held at the University this morning.

According to a recent online survey conducted by Insite, 83% of the 313 University student respondents said that they have not yet received any results. In the past few days, the council has received over 200 complaints from worried students and their families.

Without their results, students wanting to apply for Erasmus programmes or to submit their thesis proposals risk missing deadlines.

KSU president Gayle Lynn Callus said that it is unacceptable for students to be used as “chess pieces” in discussions between the government and teachers’ unions. He added that the council does not want to complicate these negotiations, but wants to represent students when they are directly affected.

Education Minister Dr Evarist Bartolo had promised KSU on July 3, one day before the unions declared industrial action, that a long-term solution would be found.

Callus said that student protests will be considered as a response if the issue is not resolved soon. In the meantime, KSU encourages students to continue sending complaints.

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Young migrants not being integrated

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Forming just 3% of the Maltese youth population, migrants are suffering from severe social exclusion. This is according to a new national draft policy, launched today by Youth Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius, which addresses many issues related to young people. The document values the integration of asylum seekers in schools and the community through adapted training programmes and non-formal teaching.

Social inclusion for all youths is the ultimate target of the policy, presented during a press conference at the Agenzija Zghazagh centre by Ms Miriam Theuma; chairperson of the consultative committee behind the drafting.

There will be 6 months of public consultations with relevant entities. The aim is to fulfill the action plans proposed in the document by 2020. Secretary Agius said it is important to update youth policy so it can constantly reflect contemporary society.

Social exclusion based on sexual orientation and disability are also addressed, since the committee feels that more acceptance of diversity is necessary. This is a must since both national and European legislation define this type of exclusion to be outright discrimination.

The document currently up for discussion promises more training for youth workers, tackling early school leavers and illiteracy, as well as improvements in the Juvenile Court. Furthermore, it proposes the extension of new youth hubs in higher secondary institutions as well as in Gozo.

An informational seminar for youth organisations and workers will be held in September, and the draft policy itself is available online.

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KSU might be forced to take ‘radical steps’

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This afternoon, KSU President Gayle Lynn Callus called for an urgent meeting with University organizations and student representatives to discuss the controversial decisions taken by MUT (Malta Union of Teachers) and UMASA (University of Malta Academic Staff Association) earlier this week.

Both unions have declared the financial proposals from the Government to be unacceptable, and have requested that a new package is offered by next Wednesday. Until any agreement is reached, University and Junior College lecturers have been ordered by the unions to not publish any results. This is of course   a major concern to students, particularly if the deadlines for the revisions of paper and Erasmus+ applications are not extended to respond to this sudden delay.

KSU conjoined this meeting between KPS and KE to affirm a concrete position with all University organizations in the face of another possible refusal by the unions of the Government’s financial package next week. All those attending had the opportunity to voice their opinion and propose ways forward, and the KSU press release entitled ‘Do Not Trample On Our Rights!’ was presented. In it, they re-affirmed that they will maintain a stance of neutrality throughout the ongoing dispute but will continue to fight against the usage of students as a ‘bargaining tool’. KSU urges the parties involved in this dispute to reconsider their positions and come up with a compromise. If no resolution is reached within the coming days, KSU will be forced to take necessary ‘radical steps’.

The consensus reached during this meeting was that any disagreements between the government and the unions should not prove detrimental to students, such as with the non-publication of results. Furthermore it was agreed that negotiations should be speeded up, and that a long-term solution should be aimed at.

No votes were taken during the meeting, but organizations and representatives were encouraged to inform their respective student population of the common positions reached during today’s meeting. KSU, KPS and KE will take further steps to ensure the protection of students’ rights according to what is decided on Wednesday. A KE meeting has been scheduled for the 7th of July.

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