Izzy’s Column ‘Amplify’ is a celebration and amplification of QMUL student projects, voices, businesses and more, where she aims to provide a platform for people that might otherwise be unheard.
I’m excited to be writing this, and that you’re here reading the first post of what I hope will be many within Amplify. I’m normally not one for long-winded introductions; I dislike few things more than the ice-breakers where you have to give a fun/unique/interesting fact about yourself, which only makes that initial awkwardness even more unbearable. However, in this case, I think an introduction is necessary, and I hope that your first meeting with this column won’t be the sort of encounter that I just described. There will be no fun/unique/interesting facts about me here, as that’s not what Amplify is about- it’s about you: what’s important to you, what’s loved by you, what’s created by you.
In today’s world of tweets, trends, and trolls, the latest news gains momentum at dizzying speeds. Interest and outrage are sparked with frenzied energy. But, often, despite the force with which a story makes the headlines, it can quickly fall under the radar. All too often we see news quoted with ‘WHY IS NOBODY TALKING ABOUT THIS?’ or ‘HOW IS THE MEDIA IGNORING THIS?’. Recent calls to sustain the drive behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement has instilled in many the hope that we are beginning to deviate from this pattern, because it isn’t just a trend to be disposed of when your timeline becomes tired of it or the newsfeed prefers to be ‘neutral’. We need to continually amplify the issues and causes and people that are important to us, and I hope that this column can be one place to do so for the students of Queen Mary.
QM is an institution founded on a history of inclusivity and diversity- you don’t need to be a history student (although I am) to know that. A quick visit to the uni’s website will tell you that the Queen Mary we know today has grown out of an amalgamation of four colleges; The London Hospital Medical College (1785), St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College (1843), Westfield College (1882) and Queen Mary College (1887). Each was established to serve the inhabitants of the East End, whether this be through medical care, higher education for its women, and technical education for its working classes (before later expanding into higher education for them too). Combined with the fact that QM’s home borough, Tower Hamlets, is one of the most diverse local authorities in the country, with 2/3 of its residents belonging to BAME groups, there is little doubt that these institutions were designed to bolster people whose voices were unfairly drowned. However, a series of unfortunate (to say the least) events have highlighted that this proud history is not always reflected in the actions of the university. Most recently, graffiti highlighting the systemic racism which plagues our university structures and the SU staff’s strongly-fought but unsuccessful #QMFurloughNow campaign (covered here), shows the uni has been failing its staff and students in more ways than one.
During my two years here, I have worked as a student ambassador, lucky enough to be paid to tell people everything I love about QM. I always mention the campus- its compactness and distance from the city, which gives it a community feel, as well as the friends I have made that I would most likely never have met had I stayed in my small hometown. When these things coalesce, QM to me is the best higher-education destination I could have chosen, but I can’t ignore that this has not been the same for everyone at the uni. That’s why, when brainstorming ideas for a column, I threw away my first idea for one where each week I discuss a historical event mentioned in the song We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel (cringe), and got to work on something more important. Amplify was inspired by the all-too-apparent disconnect between the university and its students and staff, as well as the dislocation caused by the current global pandemic which has incited a need to reconnect the community at QM by shedding light on its students and sharing their talents.
Amplify will be a place to empower and protect the voices of QM students, aligned with the values our university was built upon. This will be done through interviews with students who want to speak out about their experiences at the university, discuss causes or charities close to their hearts, promote their businesses and societies, and celebrate their art, music, fashion, and film. I have a few ideas for people I want to share with CUB readers, but I really need your help and suggestions to make this amplification sustainable!
I want to emphasise that Amplify will be a column for collaboration without mediation across QM’s student communities. CUB’s tagline is Created For Students, By Students, and that’s exactly the purpose that Amplify will uphold! After all, my go-to fun/unique/interesting fact is usually that I have family who live in Malaysia, which is technically not even about me, and I suppose explains why I’m eager to write a column that focuses on the experiences, messages, and projects of others.
So that’s it, intro over! I hope it has given you a sense of the transparency, collaboration, and celebration that will go into Amplify. If you have any suggestions or want to put yourself forward to be featured, please DM @cubcolumns on Instagram or me @izzygrime on Twitter. Thanks so much for reading!
Izzy Grimes is a second year historian at QMUL and hopes to bring a new sense of community within our university with her Column.