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The archives: 1920s letter scorns editor of The Student

ByEce Kucuk

Feb 17, 2020

This week we take a look at a particular piece from the archives, a “Letter to the Editor of The Student” from the 1920s, intended as a response to an editorial written prior.

Interesting in its essence due to the fact that The Student writing does not have a section for this any longer, the decisive writing and intended impact of the letter seems to portray that it was an important, and popular, part of the newspaper back then compared to now.

The writer takes the time to address multiple issues he has with the editorial that was written by the editor of The Student at the time. He suggests that certain topics are not being discussed, such as women in university, politics, relationships between professors and students, as well as articles with more literary content.

In short, he claims that the newspaper did not cater to the needs of all the students that went to the University of Edinburgh; and that its shortsighted outlook, along with its assumed style and chosen topics, caused The Student to leave out a portion of the student population.

Still one of the major publications at the university to this day, and a winner of many awards, The Student arguably still stands to make a major impact on its readers. It begs the question that, because of its constant and impactful presence in student life at Edinburgh, are these still concerns that students have today? If The Student were to bring back “Letters to the Editor”, would students utilize this opportunity and what would they have to say?

Although it is safe to say that The Student has grown immensely since the time this article was written, there are still and always will be concerns when it comes to publications; and the topics they do or maybe don’t talk about.

First published in 1887 by Robert Louis Stevenson and established by the S.R.C. otherwise known as the Students’ Representative Council, The Student began as a mere magazine publication containing editorials and other literary pieces. As defined by the University of Edinburgh website itself, the original goal of the publication was to “faithfully to record the passing events of University life” and “to form a bond of union between present and absent sons of our Alma Mater.”

Over the years, The Student evolved to incorporate more information and harbor a broader perspective on University and life in general. There is a possibility that letters, such as this, could have been part of the reason why the newspaper  has grown to integrate a wider variety of voices and topics.

The writer diagnosed the greatest problem The Student had at the time which, according to him, is that it didn’t get enough readers or attention due to editorials, such as the one in question, which contains a laissez faire “hands-off” attitude and blame the reader for publications not doing as well as it should.

He makes an interesting point to say that if The Student wishes to be taken seriously as if it were not just a student publication, that it should stop acting like one; that, for a student at Edinburgh to be proud of their publication relevantly named after them, then their newspaper needs to be willing to change its image and broaden its horizons.

Image: via The Student Archives

 

By Ece Kucuk

Ece Kucuk served as President of The Student in 2021/22 and is currently a regular contributor to the paper. She was previously Head Editor-in-Chief and Features Editor, she has also been a writer at The Student for over two years. She is going into her Fourth Year of a Master of Arts with Honours in English Language and Literature and plans to do her Postgraduate in Education and Child Development. She has written for every section of the paper as well as written for The Rattlecap and other publications. Some of her favourite works include her reflection on being the child of an immigrant, her piece on introducing ice hockey, as well as her interview with children’s author Mariam James.