Former UK pensions minister Steve Webb has joined Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) as its new head of policy.Webb, until the May election a Liberal Democrat MP and member of the junior coalition party, is the UK’s longest-serving pensions minister, having held the position for the entire five-year duration of prime minister David Cameron’s first term.The newly created role of director of policy and external communications will see him working on policy areas including long-term saving and consumer protection, both areas of focus as the 2014 pension freedoms – which allow savers over 55 to draw down the entirety of their pension pot – bed in.Webb said it was exciting to be taking on a role at RLAM “at a time of such dramatic change in the world of pensions”. “Having been involved in designing policy in areas such as automatic enrolment, I am looking forward to seeing how it is implemented on the front line. “As someone who has always wanted a better deal for pension savers, the customer-focused ethos of Royal London is a perfect fit with my priorities and I am greatly looking forward to this opportunity.”Phil Loney, RLAM’s chief executive, praised Webb’s time in government and background in public policy.The former minister, who lost his seat at the election after the collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote, was a professor of social policy at Bath University before entering parliament in 1997, and spent nine years at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.During his time in government, he oversaw the introduction of the single-tier state pension and led the debate around defined ambition (DA), which culminated in the passage of the Pension Scheme Act allowing for the introduction of collective defined contribution in the UK. Since leaving office, he has sought to defend his legacy, arguing DA was more than an academic exercise. Webb’s move to the asset management industry follows Aberdeen Asset Management’s hiring Gregg McClymont, the former Labour shadow pensions minister, as its new head of retirement savings.
Students from various cultral groups took the stage Tuesday to express themselves though poetry, prose and music.“Risen and Released: A Night of Personal and Social Liberation” was an open mic night hosted at Ground Zero Performance Café by USC Students for Justice in Palestine. Collectively sponsored by other student organizations, the event promoted social justice and empowerment.“Since the themes are social justice, discrimination and racism, we reached out to communities on campus that have some form of connection to that theme,” said Ifrah Sheikh, an SJP member and event coordinator. “We tried to reach a very broad spectrum of groups that we thought also deal with these issues within their group based on the demographic of people that they have.“The event sponsors included Black Student Assembly, Women’s Student Assembly, Asian Pacific American Student Services, Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, Muslim Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana de Aztlán de USC, Ansar Service Partnership, The Interloper Alternative Newspaper, USC Lebanese Club, Iranian Student Organization and Students Taking Action in the Name of Diversity.The night featured Los Angeles poet Arash Saedinia, who read translated poetry of other Palestinian poets as well as his own works. Saedinia said he was thrilled by the diversity of participants and supporters and also felt a sense of contentment and purpose in being back at USC.“I was really particularly excited because my father came to USC as a scholarship student, so my first memories of Los Angeles hold close ties to USC,” Saedinia said.Saedinia not only read poetry that focused on Palestine, but also brought up issues in the United States and South Africa.Kevin Steen, a senior majoring in Middle Eastern studies and linguistics, said he appreciated that Saedinia’s performance encompassed injustice as a whole.“I really enjoyed all the poetry that Arash Saedinia read, especially since he made it more than just about Palestine or just one place -— that injustice anywhere effects injustice everywhere,” Steen said.Steen also appreciated the parallels between historical injustices and current conflicts.“I really like that he made it about connecting the United States and the apartheid in Israel and Palestine to the apartheid in South Africa and I think people need to see those connections more.”Many student performed original pieces of poetry and prose.Zade Shakir, a junior majoring in international relations and biological sciences, recited a poem he wrote in high school entitled “Speak” that highlighted the conflicting nature of freedom of speech.“We have freedom of speech, but is our speech truly free?” Shakir said.Sheikh said the night was successful but solemn and emotional.“I think that the mic night is about really giving students an opportunity to show that what they have gone through is really significant. It’s not a little thing,” Sheikh said. “The power of spoken word and art really brings people together in ways that a lecture can’t. That’s what I hope for tonight — that it will really bring people together in their honesty and vulnerability onstage.”