SU Elections: Susie Crawford emphasises inclusion and sustainability

Crawford currently serves as Editor of Radius, the paper’s arts and culture supplement

It is clear from the beginning that Susie Crawford’s position as newcomer is central to her campaign for University Times Editor. As a participant in the first ever seriously contested election for the editorial role since it was first established independently in 2015, Crawford would be the first editor to not previously hold the role of deputy editor. Trinity News sat down with her to discuss her hopes for a more inclusive paper and her qualifications as a candidate. 

Now a Senior Sophister student in English Studies, Crawford joined the paper in her Junior Sophister year and currently works as the editor for Radius, UT’s arts and culture supplement. She thinks that contesting the position has forced both her and her opponent, Cormac Waston, to run better campaigns, and that the paper is better off for it. In her eyes, “if you’re just appointing someone as deputy and they’re the only one who runs every year, that’s not really democratic”. By running for Editor, she hopes to show people that “UT doesn’t have to be this hierarchical institution” and that “people feel more encouraged to run in future years”. What others may question as a lack of experience Crawford seems certain is “an advantage”, and will help her “change the perception of UT on campus and actually achieve the goal of making it a more accessible, more inclusive institution”.

A focus on events is important to achieving that engagement since so much of the making of the paper happens behind a screen. As it stands, Crawford thinks the workshops organised by UT are “not well attended” and “only appeal to people who are already super interested in writing for the paper, or who already write”. She thinks UT is in a “great position” to host masterclasses and speakers with extensive journalism experience to “draw people in” from outside the UT bubble. But most important would be waiting around afterwards, “with maybe some free wine” to talk to people and put a face to the paper. By doing so, Crawford believes “you engage with them on a personal level, you have a face, you’re a human, and that’s how you get people to want to be involved”. 

In this same vein she thinks the paper should “definitely” have accessible office hours. As it stands, the UT Editor is the only sabbat officer who has not ensured their office hours allow access to students with disabilities, which Crawford believes is an important step to helping students “feel included” by the paper. She wants to let “people with disabilities on campus know we are at least making an effort to say we want to hear your voice, we want to reflect your experience, we want you to be heard”. She told Trinity News her idea to hold permanent accessible hours has already been shut down by Estates and Facilities because of a lack of campus space, but she has spoken to the officer for students with disabilities Courtney McGrath about holding events and accessible hours in a new, larger, student with disabilities space set to open next year. 

She also wants to build out the communication within UT, to avoid the “issues for new writers” she herself faced. With a few exceptions Crawford claims she “did not meet a single member of staff” or get access to the style guide in her first year writing for UT, and points to her track record running Radius where she “made a huge effort…to make sure that every single writer is shared in”. As Editor she wants to make sure the writers who contribute their time and energy to contributing to the paper are acknowledged and communicated with since it’s her job “to apologise and to explain and to be completely accountable to them”. Her campaign would also like to implement a mentorship program to connect aspiring journalists with those currently working in the field, since “the biggest thing the UT does isn’t even the content it provides it is the opportunities that it provides”. Crawford has spoken to Milly Farrell Kelly about her launch of Trinity Women in Law mentorship scheme which she thinks is an “incredible” example that is “definitely achievable” for UT.

Social media engagement is another important item on the agenda, especially considering Crawford’s promise to cut UT’s print run by 40% should she be elected. According to Crawford, despite the paper’s 5000 followers on instagram, the engagement rate is “terrible” at only 1.87%. She looks to both the Phil and LawSoc instagram accounts as proof that the UT could be doing better, as examples of large societies with consistently high rates of engagement, much closer to the average 5% desired by accounts of such a size. The content already being produced by their writers and photographers puts the UT in a “wonderful” position to up their social media presence and ensure what they produce is actually reaching the student population. 

The decision to cut print by 40%  is “purely for sustainable reasons”, and Crawford plans on carbon offsetting to supplement the remainder of the UT’s footprint. Similarly, she has already carbon offset her campaign with the help of the nonprofit Cool Effect, “to make sure we’re not going to ruin the planet trying to win”. 

In terms of finance Crawford does not plan to cut costs as she believes these are already “extremely low” but instead focus on increasing advertising revenue. She admits that past UT advertisements have “not always been super ethical” and that past sponsorships from private student housing companies (whom often charge over 1000 euros a month for a single room) should have been “more carefully considered”. Instead she plans to focus on local businesses and startups with exclusively ethical advertising, which she describes as “not advertising insane things that students can’t afford or things that are out to exploit students, and advertising things that have value for our student body”. Similarly, Crawford sees the paper as a place where it can be important to “encourage action” on relevant issues, with the potential rent increase on campus being a “great example” of something the paper needs to take a stance on. 

While Crawford is certain her fresh perspective within the UT is an asset to her campaign she does not think she is without the experience and work ethic necessary to do the job well. She thinks the Editor “isn’t just reporting, the editor is doing so many things, overseeing social media, overseeing advertising, keeping SU accountants happy”. Crawford tells us that “I know what it is to multitask, like I know what it is to work 30 hours a week and go to class on my lunch break while writing for UT, while writing a blog”. Most importantly, Crawford wants us to understand that her commitment to UT comes first: “I know what it is to be busy, I know what it is to work hard, and I know how to do it well…I love this paper so much, there is no way I would run for this if I wasn’t going to put in the hours and make sure that I am equipped for this role”.

Madalyn Williams

Madalyn Williams is a Deputy News Editor for Trinity News.