Farewell to Insanity (for now…)

Yesterday I closed the door to the media suite for the last time before the SU shuts for a lot of the summer. In ten weeks time I am going to return with a sudden realisation that this is the longest I will have spent away from the media suite since I started my involvement with Insanity Radio 103.2FM last October.

The suite is both a fantastic place and also a curse. Clocking in 10 hours a day on certain occasions, it’s not always a healthy place to spend time, particularly when spending time there ends up dragging you into helping with projects which are nothing to do with your role. One case study is that of Insanity’s involvement with E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. I cannot remember why I was there, I think I had a few meetings and some admin to sort out for the Summer Schedule, but I ended up becoming involved in an application for funding to get our members over to LA. It was a cool thing to do but definitely not what I was there for in the first place! On a related note, the outgoing Head of Marketing and his companion managed to make it over to E3, disregarding the wonderfully proof-read application, and the coverage is in full swing at http://www.insanityradio.com/e3. Sticking around in the media suite, as with any office, is probably not fantastic for your health though, with people who have been there for a long time becoming easily irritated and developing a growing affinity for the vending machine, or worse not eating at all for more than 8 hours. Whatever role you are in, please look after yourself in the office, keep hydrated and fed, and set limits for how long you stay and what you do whilst there – and this goes for all situations, within and outside student media.

A break from actively creating content for Insanity will probably be a very good thing, but that doesn’t mean that there are no shows in the next ten weeks – for a start the SU isn’t closed for all of that time and I haven’t planned my holidays around when Insanity is accessible by any means! In fact, by the magic of technology, between now and when term starts in September, there are approximately 24 hours of radio scheduled to feature my voice, on a myriad of themes from scoliosis to summer camp. Keep an eye on the Insanity Radio website to find out more about who you can hear over the summer and look out for my scoliosis special on International Scoliosis Awareness Day (25th June, 12-2pm).

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March 2015: Orbital board elections

In March 2015 I was privileged to be elected as Deputy Comment Editor for the Orbital, the official magazine of Royal Holloway’s Students’ Union. It was a decision I had been considering but, according to my blog from the time, was something I had talked myself out of by the time the election came around. However, the position was called for and nobody stood so I wrote a quick speech and when they called again I ran unopposed and was duly elected to the position for the 2015/16 academic year.

This is where the board politics come in. A couple of months later the Editor resigned, which was not unusual with her being the third editor in that academic year alone, and so the Deputy Editor stepped up to the position of Editor temporarily until a bi-election was held in September to confirm her position. Holly Pyne, who had been elected Comment Editor, was co-opted as Deputy Editor, which left me as Acting Comment Editor for the summer, during which we produced five mini issues for Welcome Week to give the new students a taste of the Orbital and what to expect in university life. I dealt with running the section on my own and I was praised for getting a large amount of articles in from my section members.

However, my position was not secure as I had effectively also been co-opted and was required to be officially elected to the role of Comment Editor in an election in October 2015. In doing this, I also forfeited my role as Deputy Comment Editor, which didn’t worry me at the time because of my proven ability in the position. I hadn’t counted on the fact that the newest members of the Orbital had the ambition and ability to match my year’s experience and I was outvoted for both the role of section editor and deputy, the latter position going to the member awarded Best Journalist the previous year.

The period after the election was not a good time for me, but I refused to walk away from the Orbital and set about writing as many articles as possible and show as much commitment as would have been required from a board member. From attending socials to submitting 4 articles a month, I was certainly not slacking in my involvement! Over six months later I can now say that losing the board position is one of the best things that could have happened to me: I won Best Journalist at Societies Ball and had I continued as section editor I would have been far more likely to run for Deputy Editor, meaning that I would not be able to have as much involvement with Insanity Radio.

The moral of the experience is don’t take anything for granted and don’t dwell on failed dreams – make new ones and have fun along the way! But don’t be afraid of the repercussions that come from things not going as you hope: it is completely fine to be angry and sad and never feel like you have to suppress your emotions to be strong or look good for other people. All I can promise you is that things will be okay in the end, and you should always remember that.

Elections and campaigning

Today is the day of Police and Crime Commissioner elections, local council elections, and elections for the London mayor. Next month will see the EU Referendum, where the UK will decide whether to remain part of the European Union or become independent from it. A year ago, on the day of the General Election, I wrote a post on my blog entitled ‘Facebook and political campaigning’, which was a very in the moment response to the amount of friends who were posting about their political affiliations on social media. However, in the last few months I have been heavily involved in campaigns for student elections, where much of the campaigning is online. How far have I contradicted my own words from last year?

“Political campaigning has no place on social media, unless it is for the purpose of encouraging the act of voting” – I was vaguely part of two campaign teams during the Students’ Union officer and media head elections, strongly sharing my support for the candidates I believed to be the best on Facebook. I did this via text posts, in which I also explained the reasons why I had chosen to back that candidate, and added profile pictures and cover photos which showed who I supported. I also aimed to encourage people to do their own research and vote in elections which they may otherwise have not have known about (in the case of the media head elections particularly). There’s no doubt that my words last year have become hypocritical, but the SU elections are a particularly grey area. There was no physical campaigning for the media head candidates, leading the campaigns to be solely based online and via word of mouth. My investment in the media outlets on campus meant that I was very keen to get my favoured candidates elected and so I was active on social media, but had this been a national election I would not have been as vocal on social media.

“I am becoming increasingly irate at the multiple posts from people blatantly promoting their political affiliations” – This is very true. I don’t want to see a news feed full of Vote Labour/Vote Conservative/Vote Green etc. posts! They get aggressive and that is not encouraging for anyone else to read who holds different political views. In local and general elections the opportunity arises for physical campaigning and I feel that this is the better way to gain support from the electorate. In fact, even during the SU elections I found it more helpful to see manifestos in paper form than online. Actual political party affiliations are best kept outside of social media.

“By all means use your right to vote, in fact I implore you to do so” – If this is the only thing you take in from this post, please take the opportunity today to vote in whatever elections are going on around you! People died so that a wide spectrum of the population can have a say in who represents them in government. Whether it’s a Police and Crime Commissioner, a Borough Councillor or the London Mayor, please take the opportunity to vote.

Although I may have not listened to my own words, please take care on your usage of social media around the election season. Be open to those with other political views and make sure that the idea of voting is at the forefront of any campaigning you do.