I rarely write about my own life or general day-to-day experiences here. I've still not mastered the delicate art of blogging. There's not much point in telling long stories about student life - it would only make sense to others on campus. So, I use this as a medium to express my thoughts about history, philosophy, politics and more. It's much easier to discuss ideas to which any sensible person can relate.
However, my time as Editor of The Yorker is coming to a close. Though I intend to continue contributing to its journalism, I imagine that my focus will slowly shift towards my own writing medium, where I can write more about my own experiences without fear of using a media outlet as a loudspeaker for my personal anecdotes.
It's just me writing here; there's no one else and I'm not tied to anything. That's something that matters particularly right now. On Thursday, I finished a self-nomination for a part-time role within the students' union at York. At 3:30am yesterday I refined the nomination to include a manifesto longer than "MANIFESTO TO FOLLOW." I hope to be elected to become the Policy Coordinator, a role that involves directing the creation of policy, holding officers to account and hosting a few union events as a chairman.
Putting my name forward for a union position brings about a peculiar feeling. After a year of critical journalism and years more of hearing no end of distrust and grumbling from friends, society members and colleagues, it feels bizarre to be applying to work (without a wage, alongside an MA degree) for YUSU. It's like I've been playing for a football team long enough to sing the chants and jeers about the rivals from memory, only at the end of the season to sign on to play for the other team.
My application to be in charge of the policy-making process is rooted in frustration. Putting it bluntly, rules aren't followed, staff mislead students and a handful of officers behave like unrestrained autocrats, inventing rules that don't exist and drafting policies without the need to run it by anyone else. I had to water down my anger, but my manifesto mentions a particular slip-up and nods to several others from the past.
To be clear, my students' union is not governed by malicious people. In fact, when you get to know the staff, as I have done before, all of them are generous, kind and well-meaning people who do want to make students' lives better. So where do these "unrestrained autocrats" come from? Usually, it's down to ignorance - not ignorance in the sense of stupidity, but ignorance with respect to a lack of knowledge about important constitutional instructions, policies and by-laws. My pledge is to do something to alter that. Following the rules laid down would actually go a long way to exposing mistakes and putting things on the right path.
"Why open up about this now?" you may be wondering. "Why open up about this here?" My involvement with The Yorker means that I can be a student journalist without kowtowing to frustrating union regulations, but even so, many would say that, if this appeared elsewhere, I would be using The Yorker as my own little propaganda machine in the pursuit of election. Here, there are no third parties. I am my own editor. I have the freedom to write without interference and without association with anyone else.