Feel The Pressure

On the eve of my nineteenth birthday, I fear of people’s perception of me. How quintessentially adolescent.

I told you I’ve been horrendously busy, so a quick recap?  I got a few poorly-written essays back, with poor marks.  I went to Societies’ Ball.  I didn’t win either of the two awards I was nominated for.  I didn’t have a very good evening.  I resigned from The Founder.

Why?  Because I decided to climb that greasy pole. Sure, it sounds like I haven’t had a good few weeks.  Whinge whinge, moan moan.

It’s been SURHUL elections season.

I ran for SU Publication Editor, commonly referred to as Editor of The Orbital.  I won.

Through stress and strain, with the help of a faithfully lovely set of campaign aides, canvassing in the freezing cold and snow, I won.

After Candidates’ Question Time, being grilled more than flaming beef, I won.

I was uncontested, but I didn’t want to seem arrogant, so I campaigned hard.  I didn’t enter the elections to gain power or accolade.  I wanted to change the SU publication into something better.  And restore faith to something I felt had massive potential.  I put my heart and soul into my speech for Candidates’ Question Time.  Maybe I didn’t smile enough.  Maybe I was too stern.  I was worried about portraying myself badly.  I think, unnaturally, I was tense.  Not nervous, just tense.  I didn’t repeat my manifesto verbatim – copies were available at the ballot boxes, online and on request.  I worked hard on something which was mine and which was much more importantly honest.

Being Orbital Editor is more than just being any society president.  It also encompasses being the editor of the Student’s Union Publication. That’s not only a role encompassing commitment and professionalism, but it also requires a much larger responsibility to all the students of Royal Holloway: (and that’s) trust.

The editor of the Guardian on its 100th birthday, CP Scott, famously wrote ‘comment is free, but facts are sacred’.
It’s that trust which needs to be upheld by whoever is chosen as editor, and for our facts to be relevant to an audience of over 8 000 students.  We need to understand and respond to the basic premise of campus media in the first place. Without a relevant publication, the publication ceases to exist.

Informing students in the best way possible may encompass a variety of formats and opinions, but it is imperative that we get a fundamentally coherent message across campus.

We’ve got a moral duty to deliver necessary information (and viewpoints) on which you can make a range of decisions about your union; as well as maintain a material existence.  The editor must operate both sides of the publication’s activity: it costs money to print, so I’ve got to make sure I can manage that. The trick is to find unity between the business and the message.  I feel I have the required skills to handle such a task, with valuable experience in enterprise and journalism.

The publication is, as Mr. Scott states: ‘an institution’.  It reflects and influences the life of a whole community – our community.
I want an informative Orbital:  the overwhelming majority of students I spoke to today look elsewhere to find out what’s happening on campus – that’s not just news, but reviews and opinion, too.

I want to improve how it’s running at the moment: online and in print.

But above all, I want to inspire students to read, write for and be proud of your publication. It is your publication. But I can’t start without gaining your trust.

But the lesson I’ve learned from this election season?  That I don’t like pigeon-holing.  I don’t like being categorised, or second-guessed.  I’m not just ‘that guy who doesn’t write for The Orbital’ or ‘that guy who’s clearly a new version of x’ or even ‘that arrogant wanker’.  My public persona takes a lot out of me.

Maybe it’s too much of Freud’s The Uncanny.  Or maybe I’m having an identity crisis?  I suppose if I knew certainly who I am, it would make it easier for me to know who I’m not.  How quintessentially adolescent.

This place is a little community.  And the problem with a cyclical little community is that there’s only enough change you can believe in before it all starts to sound the same.  Never mind about equality diversity, I’m talking about politics and sociology.  You’ve only got one chance to allow people to like you or dislike you.  And quite obviously it’s a pity there’s no answer booklet.  Now that’s pressure.  Especially since there’s only a finite amount of people here!

Forever incomplete.  And tomorrow I turn nineteen.  Maybe this time next year I’ll have more answers.  I’ll hopefully have a few successful tries under my belt by then.  And some issues of The Orbital.