By Kalman Dean-Richards
Your university is growing. Not in the meaningless sense that all businesses and football teams claim to be growing, but in demonstrable, concrete and, you know, kind of endearing ways.
A number of courses – both curricular and extra-curricular – have joined the ranks of the most highly subscribed and respected in their fields in the country, and king of them all? Humanity Hallows – the university’s student magazine – has just landed its second print incarnation.
Sitting tightly in the hands of the students, the magazine and its myriad successes are the most accessible of this list of new, promising developments at Manchester Metropolitan University, and as the speeches unfurl at Number 70 Oxford Road, the collective sense of pride at the first launch event of the year is palpable. The magazine is expanding and developing its remit, and changing for the better as it does so, starting with its contributors.
First established in the Humanities, Languages and Social Science Faculty, the Student Press Office’s editorial team has grown exponentially this past term, with students from across the university joining the ranks and contributing their wealth of skills, collaborating in previously unseen ways.
The Humanity Hallows magazine is an entirely complete, comprehensive student operation and offering. Everything is done by current Manchester Met students – and Student Media Officer Natalie Carragher puts it more eloquently than this writer ever could: “Every word’s written by our writers; every photograph taken by our photographers. The students are there at the conception, they’re the creative engine, and they’re marketing the magazine, too.”
Where this might feel like a subtle shift at first, it’s also an important one, with a singularly important implication. With no outsider input, the safety net has been removed. The stakes are higher. The tension is overflowing like a word-count-conscious-simile. The deal is that students are being offered the authentic experience of running a magazine, rather than the risk-free version. Suddenly, for better or for worse, this is “our thing.” Our thing, to “give, and [to] take what [we] want from…” to paraphrase former Editor-in-Chief Neil Harrison.
But there’s more, too. Student involvement isn’t the limit of the magazine’s ambition. As I wander around this launch event, and the free wine, and the free orange juice disappear like free things tend to, I feel like I should be careful to add that Humanity Hallows is itself being careful not to turn into some inward-looking, indulgent exercise in making students feel good about themselves. That wouldn’t be great for “growth.” Instead, the ambition here is to position the magazine and the students making it at the centre of the city: the university’s Writing School has just moved to the iconic Cornerhouse building, and the magazine is making a similar, metaphorical move, broadening its city-wide focus as it goes along.
Articles covering local bands are appearing, pieces like the Literary Tour of Manchester, and the history of the Cornerhouse itself, turn up in the current issue. James Draper, Manager of the Manchester Writing School, describes how “The University, and the Writing School, are always in the city – at the library, at the Royal Exchange, at HOME.” It’s about leaving a cultural footprint.
And the take home here is that all of this growing is going to carry on. That’s what the celebration tonight has been about. The cultural footprint is only going to get deeper, because the magazine’s continued existence has already been built in.
“The first print edition has brought [Humanity Hallows] to the attention of people at the University that probably hadn’t seen it before,” Current Editor-in-Chief, Jacqueline Grima tells me. This, the second edition, promises continuity – a strengthening of the foundations, and an expansion upon them. When Humanity Hallows goes to print for a third time, in March 2016, it will evolve again. It will be still bigger, still stronger, and still growing.
Want to be a part of it? Pick up a copy on campus and turn to page 25. You can also read online here: Humanity Hallows Magazine Issue 2.