Strathclyde Telegraph

Editorial: Freshers’ Edition

By Émer O’Toole

This month’s news has been all about the ongoing refugee crisis. Public opinion was divided partly because of the widely published graphic photographs of children who had drowned trying to reach Turkey. Living in a privileged country like Scotland and being in the fortunate position of being able to attend university, it can be far too easy to disengage yourself from these issues if they don’t directly affect you. So while it isn’t necessary to see a picture, sometimes it helps. When we see those pictures of children sleeping on benches or walking along motorways, we see ways of rescuing them. Bob Geldof has offered to put up four refugee families at his houses in London and Kent and Finland’s Prime Minister, Juha Sipilä, also offered his house in the Kempele area more than 500km north of Helsinki, to refugees. Sipila said the house was rarely used at the moment and would house asylum seekers from the start of next year.

It shouldn’t have come as a shock to us. We had been told it was happening. Stories of children dying during the crossing of the Mediterranean have been coming out since the crisis began in 2011. But a picture of three year old Aylan Kurdi’s body was what it took to make everyone realise that it was people we were talking about, and not as Katie Hopkins has called them in her unpopular Sun column, “cockroaches.” Like Kafka’s Metamorphosis in reverse, the “cockroach” became a person and people took action. David Cameron announced plans to accept 20,000 refugees over the next five years while in stark contrast, Germany accepted around 18,000 refugees into the country in the same week. Closer to home, on this campus, the Strathclyde Students’ Association showed its support for the refugees by teaming up with the Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers to hold a collection drive in the Union (see our wonderful front page story by News Editor, Mat). It’s easy to criticise the media (especially since the independence referendum) and the future of journalism can look bleak sometimes, particularly when you consider that according to Reuters, only 45% of 18-24 year olds in the UK trust the news they access. But the refugee crisis is the kind of situation where the media can work as an advantage.

If you’re not reading this online, I assume you like a newspaper in a physical format (or a copy of the paper was forced into your hands at the freshers’ fair and you were too polite to refuse.) Following the news that the successful independent student newspaper, The Journal, has shut down after going into liquidation and many other student newspapers are switching to an online-only presence, we’re one of the few student newspapers in Glasgow still printing a physical copy. This year we plan to update our website more frequently to keep up with the competition, but we’ll keep printing the paper every month and putting it in our stands in the Union, Livingston Tower, McCance, Java Café, the library, James Weir and the ground floor study area of the Biomedical Science building.

Print needs to adapt and evolve to stay relevant as a medium and with the realisation that the paper will turn 55 this year, I sat down with the team to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. You can still expect to see student-related news as well as news from around Glasgow. In the three years I’ve written for the Telegraph, we’ve had a team of small but dedicated writers. However, new aspiring Woodwards and Bernsteins are always welcome and this year each section editor will be picking an Article of the Month from each edition (credit goes to Features Editor, Rachael Procter for this one). In a Telegraph first, this year we’ve ditched the recurring year abroad column in favour something different. Jennifer Constable’s ‘Sex and Sensibility’ column is sure to be a hit with students and Hannah Wong’s uniMUM comes from the rare perspective of a young student mum. We’re still looking for a Web Editor, Sport & Health editor and people to do layout so email me at editor@strathclydetelegraph.com if you’re interested. We’ll be holding by-elections for the above positions as well as a social on Thursday 24th September in the Lounge, level five of the Union.

Some of you will be starting university next week and this edition is packed with advice on how to make the transition from school to uni as painless as possible, from the ins and outs of my MyPlace and Pegasus on page four to how to make friends (page five). For others (like myself) this is going to be the final year- the one that really matters- full of sleepless nights, deadlines, stress, exams and dissertations. Of course, when you reach my stage in your university ‘career’, there will be things you wished you did better. We’re our own harshest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping in. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. On multiple occasions I’ve looked back on my high school self and thought: how did I do that? How was I so motivated? Maybe our private insecurities will always follow us.

Don’t worry if you don’t make lifelong uni friends during freshers’ week- you’ll meet them when you join societies’ or when classes start. In the meantime, get involved in everything. Leave your comfort zone and if you’re lucky enough to know people from school who are going to Strathclyde too, don’t feel like you need to stick with them at all times. I’d also advise actually studying. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

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