If there’s one thing you can do today to help student journalism across all London universities, it’s to vote in the ULU elections.
ULU has become an increasingly irrelevant part of our lives at the larger London colleges, and though it still plays a role in the smaller, specialist schools that make the University of London so fantastically all-encompassing, last year the elections for the presidency of Michael Chessum saw a total of 1482 ballots cast. Of this only 1469 were valid, and in the final round Chessum received a total of 770. Queen Mary contributed just 90 votes.
The University of London has 120,000 students across its London colleges, and another 50,000 overseas. Despite this enormous electoral roll, the total turnout for ULU elections is always depressingly low, and in total votes cast it has often had fewer ballots cast than in elections at individual colleges. In this arena, every vote counts, you and your friends could swing the election.
University College London is a relative unknown when it comes to student media, much like Queen Mary. However, most notable of many student publications in London is The Cheese Grater, UCL’s satirical, investigative and often heavily critical student ‘magazine’, produced initially, in much the same manner as The Elephant, as a response to a lacking union-supported media, is a shining exception. I say ‘magazine’, with heavy quotation marks, because part of the charm of this primarily-web publication is that it’s entirely black and white and has never been professionally printed. And despite this lack of physical quality, the journalism and reporting produced by the relatively tiny investigations team, is some of the best content produced by any outlet nationally.
This year the investigations editor has been Oscar Webb, and this year he is running for the editorship at London Student, a publication that, along with its parent body, has become less relevant with each year I’ve spent at Queen Mary. Oscar has the drive and determination to plug the holes in the sinking ship of London Student, and use his experience, investigative know-how, and downright balls to put our London-wide newspaper, with an enormous potential readership, back in the drivers seat on student matters.
Having met Oscar I know that – in the old style of investigative journalism – he believes in the power of the press in being able to publicly reveal and pressurise officials in their often behind-doors dealings. His manifesto highlights the cost of living in the capital; prices asked for by both private landlords and the astronomical rise in the unaffordable 51-week contracts of private halls are becoming unsustainable for all but the most privileged.
He also understands the power in brevity and simplicity: in scaling back the London Student website, and simplifying the newspaper, whilst improving the design and format, he will provide a much cleaner and more relevant outlet for students to both visit for content and use to display their own. He recognises the power of the London Student in bringing all the outlets across London together to save money on mass-purchasing, and co-ordinate coverage and workshops to improve the skillsets of student journalists in every college in the capital.
If there’s one thing you can do today to improve student journalism in the year ahead, it’s to login to your QMUL email account, search for your ULU voting password and visit the elections site to vote #1 Oscar Webb for London Student Editor. Thank you.
If you wish to read Oscar Webb’s manifesto yourself you can do so here. He is running against Katie Lathan, whose manifesto can be viewed here and she has produced a support video here. Voting closes Friday 8th March.