I like to hope all students come to University with a head full of dreams. I certainly did; moving from a farm to Belfast and being the first Noble to attend University, it’s been quite an adventure. The past three years have exceeded all my hopes for what Queen’s could mean and be for me. Among all the ups and downs, there has been one constant fixture; this newspaper. I starting reading The Gown in my A level years and have given most of myself to it for three years. It’s hard to believe that my time with the paper is coming to an end.
I came into this year wanting to shake things up and I haven’t done this as much as I wanted to but there have been core moments I am particularly proud of. Holding our Vice Chancellor to account and reporting that he believed pay was not a high motivator for his staff (yet earning the tidy sum of £249 K), being kicked out of Elms during fresher’s sign in because we led with a story on students failing to get places in halls and in this issue, bringing to attention the cuts to bursaries and Queen’s priorities regards funding.
Yet being a good editor is as much about reserve as it is bravery. It is as much about the stories you don’t publish, or can’t due to the likelihood of running into legal difficulties. There is nothing more frustrating than discovering wrongdoing but with a source that wishes to be anonymous and the editor being personally liable for any legal repercussions, tongues must be held.
There are stories I could have published this year that would have interested readers a lot but of which the ethics of doing so did not sit right with me. When feeling unsure about the strength of a story it is important to ask, is this in the public interest? The public may well be interested but if it veneered more to the tabloid, gossipy side I believed it was not the direction this paper should take.
I want to thank my team, contributors, readers, The Gown Trust (with special thanks to chair Maeve Quigley) and Orry Robinson for whom 60th celebrations would have been impossible without. I send my warmest wishes to Niamh McGovern and Niall Coleman, next year’s editor and deputy editor respectively. I am very excited to see what they bring to the paper next year.
For, I and so many of my peers, a wonderful and challenging time in our lives is coming to an end. I will miss this paper so much, miss the bubble of QUB and I am more than a little scared of what the world beyond Queen’s is like. Maria Keegan, writing for The Yale Daily News before her tragic, untimely death, in an essay entitled “The Opposite of Loneliness” sums it up perfectly.
“It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt…These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group-texts.
This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse — I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.”
Yet with an ending, there is also a beginning and this doesn’t just apply to those among us who are graduating. You may feel elated with how the last year has gone or you may have had a tough time and are weary. To those still at Queen’s next year I reiterate what I wrote in my first editorial; get stuck into life beyond your studies. I probably have done so too much but I don’t regret it as it through student activism and extra-curricular activities that I have learnt the most.
Wherever you are next September, I wish you the very best.