Student blogger: No Comment
Student Union president-elect Reni Eddo-Lodge chats to us about her political blog, No Comment...
Over the coming months, we’re going to be featuring interviews with student bloggers in the UK, covering everything from fashion and music to politics and - of course - student life.
This week, we talk to English-Lit student Reni Eddo-Lodge - student council representative, president-elect for the University of Central Lancashire's student union and Channel 4 highly commended blogger for political website, No Comment...
What is your blog about?
My blog is about politics. Usually I write about feminism, anti-fascism and deconstructing pop culture and the media, as well as the higher education funding debate. I’ve just been elected president of my student union so it’s likely that there will be lots more posts about higher education and students next year.
Why did you decide to start a blog?
I’d started writing comment pieces for my uni paper and just wanted a place to document my work online so I could show my family and friends at home. I used to keep personal blogs and diaries when I was younger; I’ve always been a writer at heart.
How frequently do you update your blog?
About three times a month but I don’t really regulate it. I tend to write when the mood takes me. That being said, I’ve just run an election campaign and handed in my dissertation and my blog has suffered for it.
How do you find time to fit writing your blog around your studies?
For the last two years of my degree I’ve worked a part time job, chaired a society, sat on student council as women’s representative, written for the uni paper and started volunteering for the sexual health charity, FPA as well as written my blog. It all sounds quite heavy but the answer is time management. Plus there’s been more than a couple of terms when I’ve been completely broke and couldn’t afford to socialise. That frees up lots of time!
Who do you write for?
For people with the same interests as me.
Describe your blog in three words.
To the point.
On average, how many visits do you get a month?
The F Word UK is a brilliant blog and the one that switched me on to feminism. OTND Feminism and Lipstick Feminists are good for questioning sexism in pop culture, too. Blackfeminists is a blog from a group I’m signed up to, and I’ve contributed to it in the past. Hope not Hate is an excellent tool for keeping an eye on the English Defence League, the BNP and far right activism in the UK, which seems to be disturbingly rising. I’m settled comfortably on the left wing of the political spectrum so I like to read voices from across the slate, from the centre left, to the revolutionaries.
Johann Hari is an Independent journalist who posts exclusive bits and pieces up on his blog from time to time- his writing is excellent and he likes to tackle taboos.
Then there’s sex educator Dr Petra. As a feminist I find her work really pioneering. She looks at sex education, teenagers and constructions of gender a lot, using science to expose myths.
Racialicous is a blog that looks at race and pop culture. It’s invaluable for critical discussion, even though it’s US based. BBC Newsnight’s Economic editor Paul Mason keeps a really good blog, giving depth to what he’s planning for the programme.
Sometimes I also have a read of Conservative Home as it’s great for sharpening my arguments!
What is your top tip for any aspiring bloggers?
Write about what you’re passionate about and the readers will come to you.
How have you built up your following?
I won a high commendation from Channel 4’s Best Young Blogger of the Year 2010 which sort of kick started things, as it was covered in some mainstream media outlets. I also did I stint at The Guardian last summer, and there’s a click through link on my Guardian profile to my blog which helps. The F Word also often link to my blog in their weekly round-up.
Twitter is a brilliant tool for debate, to talk about the news, and to discuss theories.
I still find it strange that people think I have something worthwhile to say- I didn’t start up the blog in the hope of getting a following!
How helpful do you think having a blog is for the career you are studying for?
I’m coming to the end of an English Literature degree, but I didn’t start my degree with a particular career in mind. The same goes for my blog. I write because I enjoy it.
You were also Deputy Comment Editor for your uni paper. What did your role typically involve?
It entailed writing about 650 words every issue on a topic of my choice, commissioning pieces to new contributors and editing their work.
You went along to the first student demo in London last year. What was your experience like?
I’ve been to every student demo I could get to. It was a great day, there was a wonderful feeling of purpose, with everyone standing for a common cause.
Would the rising of tuition fees have made an impact on your decision over which course to study or whether you went to uni at all, if you were due to enrol in 2012?
Definitely. The situation this government has left higher education in is an absolute nightmare. The subjects I’ve always loved fall into the bracket of the arts, humanities and social sciences, yet the coalition have somehow come to the conclusion that these subjects are no longer worth funding. It’s a slap in the face to culture and creativity. I don’t think I could have justified £9,000 a year for a degree. I don’t have money coming out of my ears and neither do my family.
And finally, what is the best thing about your university?
I go to a post 1992, former polytechnic, which is great for widening access. We’ve got lots of part time and mature students and we do plenty of foundation courses.
I fiercely believe that education should be accessible to all and I think my university achieves that. I’ve always said that the government’s free market plans for higher education were designed to destroy institutions like mine. The year ahead will be challenging, but I ran for president because I’m not letting that happen without a fight.