Publishing our 350th issue is somewhat of a daunting task. Knowing you are part of something with a history far greater than you and your year of editorship is both comforting (hearing tales of how other editors made mistakes, missed print deadlines and managed crises) and intimidating (just turn to page 12 to learn about our brilliant alumni currently working magic in the media).
To mark the occasion, our writers have worked hard to produce a digital map of campus with Concrete’s biggest, and strangest, news stories plotted out. To see the fruits of our efforts, head to the website at concrete-online.co.uk. You can look up the last 26 years of student reporting on your halls of residences or see which of your favourite musicians have graced the LCR stage. There are some surprises in there – in a series of videos about UEA accommodation, Comment editor Jack Ashton takes a look at a Concrete news story from 2008 which reported on the projection of a pornographic video onto the side of Paston house.
Features editor Tony Allen has also interviewed Gavin Hudson, who runs the students’ union’s venues, on the most notable artists UEA has played host to and on the UEA Gig History project which collates these.
We have also taken a look back at something UEA does best: protest. From ‘die-ins’ over fossil fuel investments to lecturers on the picket line to students occupying the Arts building, UEA students have never shied away from voicing their views on the issues of the day.
This sentiment has been echoed in recent weeks, with UCU industrial action continuing against proposed pension plans. Although the two organisations involved have been in talks, it doesn’t seem like much progress has occurred. In the last fortnight, I watched as the UUK had an absurd Twitter spat with those confused about when the next resolution negotiating meetings would take place. Sometimes it is reassuring to see that the gap between adulthood and adolescence isn’t too great, but when it could potentially be something the future of academia rests on, the lack of maturity is worrying.
Whether you’re ardently supporting the cause or not, it is fair to say campus is getting cabin fever, with many classes cancelled because of strike action or snow. If you’re stuck on what to do, Comment has provided a tongue-in-cheek to-do list on what to do instead of working out how much money’s worth of teaching you’re missing out on, on page 16.
On our website, News editor Matt Nixon has also compiled a timeline of the UCU action, from our first story on the ballot to take action in December to the latest news. He also spoke to lecturers on strike, and you can watch these video interviews online.
In Travel this fortnight, Megan Furr ponders whether colonialism has had an impact on tourism in countries like India, with statues and monuments still casting the British Empire’s long shadow. How we commemorate and remember the immoral and horrific aspects of our past is a compelling debate, and one that has been discussed to great ends in the last 26 years of this newspaper.
On page 5, Louise Lazell writes about the universities’ minister’s opinions on recent student movements to decolonise the curriculum. It seems to me that the minister has misunderstood the movements – our curriculums should challenge narratives of the past, not cement and reflect them by neglecting to include the voices of women and people of colour.
To celebrate International Women’s Day last week, Features spoke to some of Concrete’s female editors, past and present. Don’t get me wrong – we’re proud of every Concrete alumnus, regardless of their gender. But these women represent to me what I love most about Concrete and, dare I say it, student journalism. The editors we spoke to are determined, committed, and have gone above and beyond the remits of a 9-5 job in their student journalism.
Finally, thank you to every writer, illustrator, copyeditor who helped with this issue and the 350th project. Everybody at Concrete is a volunteer, and your hours of work do not go unappreciated.