Fresher’s Fortnight is a distant memory of too much alcohol and regret, the loan is waning, deadlines are looming and the days are getting rapidly chillier and darker. With the initial excitement of seeing friends and of spending Monday nights in Connected wearing thin, many of us are nostalgically looking back to days of summer freedom.
For our Student Officers the past month has been a holiday. Their real challenges are about to begin. Last Thursday night Council sat for the first time this year. Although mostly a humdrum affair of electing committees, two motions were passed. One opposing cuts from Stormont and another related, opposing any proposed increase in fees for five years. These words remain feeble platitudes unless there is real action on the ground from Officers; time will tell.
Unusually this year we have seen before Council sat, a flurry of political activity on campus with the unity and neutrality referendums. Many have lamented that it is disappointing to have seen such strong activism focused on the constitutional future of this country. Indeed it would be commendable to see such energy dedicated to issues related to student welfare.
Yet for a period, the SU was alive with activity and passion. The referendums reached beyond that of ‘SU hacks’, with it becoming commonplace to hear in passing conversation, the referendums mentioned. The SU has fallen back into a quiet existence but with Council active again and the Department of Employment and Learning facing cuts of 10.8%, I don’t expect it to remain so for long.
Throughout the referendums there was much debate around the quality of student politics but it should I hope be clear, that student journalism continues to go from strength to strength. The Gown was proud to collaborate with Tori Watson and Paul Wyatt of QR’s news show “The Scoop” in hosting The Big Referenda Debate and offering students a chance to hear arguments from both campaigns. Although The Scoop may be our rival, they are a worthy one.
The Gown were the first media outlet to break the story on QUB Sinn Féin’s plans to hold a referendum on Irish Unity and it was rewarding to have the mainstream media notice this. I was fortunate to be able to represent The Gown on BBC Sunday Politics and UTV. Next week several members of the team will be taking part in a video editing course. We hope that we will be able to soon implement video reporting to our increasing online coverage.
Keen readers will note that this issue is rather late in going to print. I apologize for being unable to get the paper out in October. Due to the resignation of our designer and thankfully the acquiring of a new one, we have been slightly set back. The Gown is run entirely by student volunteers and without the hard work of the rest of the team, this paper would not be possible.