Columnists Muse

Decisions are made by those who show up

Jenna Luxon discusses how to be the change you want to see in your society

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Image Credit: NBC, 2004

I wrote my first article for Nouse in January 2019.  As my Dad was driving me back to York after the Christmas holidays, I sat beside him and typed out a review of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the notes on my phone.

I sent that article off to the then Arts Editor, and so began my time at Nouse. And while I would like to tow the party line and speak of how I instantly felt right at home, that wasn’t really the case.

My first few months at Nouse weren’t what I had expected. Nobody gave me any feedback on my articles, or told me if or when they would be published. Nobody tried to explain to me how this complicated world of student journalism I’d just entered into worked, and for the first few events I went to in person I’m not sure anyone even asked my name.

Nouse felt cliquey. And while I wanted to keep writing, I was confused when people spoke about the paper as being this big, happy family when I felt like, at best, a very distant cousin.

But the more involved I got at Nouse, the more I began to feel like part of the team. I got to know people and at some point stopped feeling like the clueless newbie on the side lines and like someone who actually knew what they were talking about.

I’m now not just part of the paper because I had to be to keep writing, but because I truly love it. Because Nouse continues to shape my time at university in so many positive ways, and because I now do feel like part of the - albeit dysfunctional - Nouse family.

When you start university, everyone tells you that you need to get involved in societies but what they don’t often tell you is that doing so isn’t always an easy process; sometimes things don’t instantly fall into place.

But if you want to get involved with something at university, it‘s worth sticking it out even if it doesn’t feel like a perfect fit right away.
Your time at university is short. And while I hate that I’m now a world-weary third year who goes around saying things like that - it is true.

Now I’ve been at Nouse nearly two years, the tables have turned. It’s my responsibility to welcome new writers, and I hope to do a good job of it.

I try to remember what it was like for me, and the responsibilities I have - to give our writers feedback, to let them know when their pieces will be published and to try my best to explain how student journalism works, although there are a lot of parts I’m still not too sure about.

‘Decisions are made by those who show up’ is an Aaron Sorkin quote that if you've read my answer in this edition's ‘Ask the Editors’ will make sense. You can’t influence how things are run from the outside.

If you join a society and there’s something you don't like about it, that isn’t necessarily a reason to avoid it. In fact, it can be a reason to stay.

If you don’t like the socials, become social sec and be the person who organises them. If you think there’s a problem with representation, get on the committee and make a change. If you think a society could be more welcoming to new members, stick around and welcome next years’ new members yourself.

Join the group anyway - stick it. Societies at university are constantly changing and you can only make the decisions that change them if you show up and are involved. It’s not always easy, but that tired out cliché is true, being part of societies at university is worth it.

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