Recently, an opportunity to write for a online student magazine was sent to me via one of my university lecturers, something any English student with journalistic ambitions would jump at. As one of those English students, I did indeed jump and yet, upon reading the criteria of the position, I felt slightly less enthusiastic. As an example of undesirable subject matter, the advertisers suggested the Israel/Palestine conflict. Preferable to this, they stated, would be material related to ‘what students really want to know about’.
An inspection of the content already on the site demonstrated this prime student entertainment material predominantly drinking related posts, and typical ‘Uni Lad’ fodder. Now, I would be the first to admit that posts relating to drinking and nights out are entertaining. You can bet nearly every student house has communally read through the ‘which predrink character are you?’ articles, pinning personas (often justly) on their friends. Anyone who insists they never fall into the internet trap of endless memes on said student sites (on a moreregularthanyou’dliketoadmit basis) are not to be trusted. The majority of the material then admittedly falls into the category of ‘what students really want to know about’, things immediately applicable to our situation. Yet to prioritise this narrow, generalised view of ‘campus life’ is to isolate and ignore those whose interests might extend past the so called ‘student bubble’.
Yes, perhaps not many will put down the Jäger on a Friday night to sit and look into the situation in Iraq. Of course, socialising and having a laugh should be at the forefront of this brief, expensive period of education. Yet we should not promote a lack of awareness an understanding of the world around us is key to our growth. Alright, serious articles are less fun to read but somber though the material might be, serious issues should not be ignored in the provision of student content. Most university students do keep a balance between real life and their social life. Yet the young writers of this popular site are actively instructed to avoid weighty issues, the absence of which resultantly discourage students to take interest. This not only curbs serious journalistic ambition, but also promotes an alarming youth apathy towards anything not directly relatable to the student experience.
Thankfully, student writing sites that encourage diversity of content do exist. Indeed, these issues shouldn’t have to fall short of the university bubble they should be included as part of a variety of material, which applies to us as not simply students, but people.