God Save the King: the low-down on Student Council

Interested in submitting a motion to honour the King? The key is to show up to council.

multiple writers
12th December 2022
Image credit: Wikimedia
Last Thursday the history, reputation and dignity of The Courier came under attack. That may seem dramatic, but I believe no other word appropriately describes the proposition at the Student Council other than an attack.

A motion was put forward in which two Newcastle University students, who have no role in student media, propositioned to change the name of The Courier to The King’s Courier. They cited two main reasons for this renaming, the first being, that the Students' Union is yet to properly honour the Queen with a ‘meaningful gesture.’ To which I ask, why are they demanding the name reference the King rather than the Queen? With that, any students who want to make a meaningful gesture to a figure, I kindly guide you towards The Courier’s Opinion section, or even better yet, if you have a message for the Students' Union, here at Campus Comment. The solution is not transforming the name of an outlet for your own political motive – and let’s be clear here, it is political.

The frankly rude and condescending second point referred to how the name would ‘lend to the legitimacy of the past.’ This point refers to how when Newcastle University was still incorporated with Durham University as ‘King’s College,’ we were known as King’s Courier not a reference to the monarch, but the college. Following the transformation to Newcastle University, we became simply The Courier and have been publishing weekly ever since. Now, I would be fascinated to know what legitimacy would be gained with the reinstalment of a simple noun. And more so, how ignorant to suggest it would “add to its reputation as a professional organisation.” The Courier approaches 75 years next year, and in that time, the newspaper has won the Student Newspaper of the Year in 1994, 2012 and 2014, and continued to be a voice for all Newcastle Students, regularly connecting students interested in journalism to people in the industry.

Journalism is about the lack of bias or affiliation, it’s the golden rule

These points were mentioned by a range of student media representatives at Thursday’s student council. Meg Howe, Student Media Officer and Editor in Chief of The Courier highlighted the origins of the newspaper name, and reiterated how it is no connection to the monarch. Sophie McNally, our Deputy Editor, discussed how “journalism is about the lack of bias or affiliation, it’s the golden rule.”

Strangely, the proposer of the motion did not attend the council on Thursday evening.

As a result, the student who seconded this motion was left to defend it. This student was the only person to speak in favour of this – even going as far as admitting to not having read the motion properly before singing his name. This student was met with several questions from irritated and enraged student media representatives and others present.

Lauren Gilbert, our Disability Officer, asked if the proposers were aware of the decolonisation issues related to this subject. She argued that “this motion would go against every attempt made by our Students’ Union to decolonise education.” Lauren was not the only one to raise this issue, with the representation of international students and their views on honouring a British monarch in this way being discussed. Sophie McNally also touched on the topic of decolonisation stating the new name would be “both gendered and reignite issues of monarchical colonisation.”

An astronomical 98% voted against the motion, conserving The Courier in its original status

The criticisms did not seem to meet a valid reply or answer, with the proposer of the motion, unfortunately absent. This, therefore, surprised no one when an astronomical 98% voted against the motion, conserving The Courier in its original status. Though the Student Council is a completely democratic and free approach for students to suggest motions, one must once again question the motives behind this proposed renaming. To demand such defining change upon an institution you have no part of, to propagandise a belief central to oneself epitomises the sense of entitlement that has no place in the University. Luckily the Student Council recognised that too. Thankfully, the 98% saw one (or a couple) of people’s views cannot reflect an entire body of people. Maybe next week I’ll propose ‘The Gregg’s Courier’ – it’s not like you have to turn up to back up your ideas anyway.

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