Editor's column

Concrete at the dawn of a new decade

Welcome to Concrete’s first issue of the new decade. We’re happy to be back, and this issue is packed with content. From Piriyanga Thirunimalan’s dissection of the media blackout in India to Ted Tuthill-Jones’ report on UEA’s postponement of a talk by feminist speaker Prof Kathleen Stock, this edition is sure to captivate you. 

A new year always brings a bundle of promises and resolutions. I started the New Year fairly sober, sitting in A&E in Cardiff of all places, looking after a friend who’d taken a tumble. It was the first day of the New Year, I wasn’t hammered, and so I thought I’d give Dry January a go. Sadly my birthday falls right in the middle of the month and so I may’ve failed. No need to dwell, there’s always next year.

The other option is Veganuary. To be honest, I’m not even going to pretend I tried. As I jumped on my coach home from Cardiff I was holding a bacon bap and a sausage roll. Apologies to the environment.

I’ve been wondering whether in a few decades’ time students will view our generation with disgust. ‘They actually ate animals? I thought that was a myth’. Maybe that’s what they’ll say Norwich. It’s fairly progressive here.

Talking of progress, the Concrete Mental Health Crisis campaign has achieved so much already and I believe that’s something to be proud about. There have been obstacles but at last we’re starting to see some real change at the top. In December UEA announced a raft of initiatives including one to inform a nominated third party about a student’s mental wellbeing if that student consents. It’s exactly what our campaign has been calling for – if students consent to it, parents or guardians should be told. But more than this, we’ve seen a shift on campus in terms of the way our community is approaching mental health. For too long a number of people have buried their heads in the sand. People tried to tell us this isn’t a crisis and that we shouldn’t talk about mental health. As if hushing things up would solve the issue. 

Last week we saw students come together for STIGMA, an event organised by SU welfare officer Amelia Trew to reduce the stigma around the conversation about mental health. The day was a success, and I’m glad to say Concrete teamed up with Headucate and UEATV to run a 24-hour mental health chat show– it was a great team effort.

Looking ahead to our next issue I’m sure many students will be excited to hear we’ll be publishing the results of our Sex and Drugs Survey. So far we’ve had a record number of respondents, with more than 1,400 people taking the survey. We’ve got the team working on the special edition already – photos have been taken, articles pitched, and we’ve even had a peak at some of the survey’s statistics so far!

I’d like to take a moment to say thank you and good luck to our Lead Photographer Roo Pitt and Senior News Reporter Samuel Woolford. Both have done a stellar job and are now heading off for their semesters abroad, and we wish them all the best. Harry Chapman will take over from Roo as Lead Photographer and we will announce the new Senior News Reporter in the coming few weeks.

Finally I’d like to touch on another new addition to Concrete. I may have failed my New Year’s resolutions, but as the name would suggest, Concrete is made of tougher stuff than I am. Phrases such as “post-truth” and “fake news” have eased themselves into our everyday vocabulary, but there is still a place for dedicated journalism. At UEA that place is Concrete. We don’t pander to anyone. We are UEA’s unbiased and official student newspaper, and we have been for close to thirty years. We are delighted to announce our new motto is “Striving for Truth”. It’s what we have always and will always aim to do: solid journalism, finding stories that matter and publishing them for you to read.


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Chris Matthews