I’m Lottie and during my final year as a Classical Literature and English student. I was also the Managing Editor for the University of Leeds’ Undergraduate Human Rights Journal.
For the first couple of years at university – like many English students – I had my heart set on a career in journalism. I got involved in all kinds of activities: Lippy (Leeds University’s alternative women’s magazine); Leeds Student Newspaper, Ones to Watch (a student journalism website showcasing the best of national student media); and some free-lance writing for various online blogs. As well as my editing roles, I was writing articles on the problem of poverty in Leeds, the humanitarian crisis amidst the Syrian Revolution, the law that forces women to marry their rapists in Morocco, the participant of Afghani women in international sport, a Guardian journalist’s run-in with Russian intelligence, the plight of mothers seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, and artistic dissidence in countries of conflict. I also had managed to interview an academic who went to see the conflict in Syria for himself.
I knew that I only really ever had an interest in writing on humanitarian issues, so I was quickly turned off the idea of journalism. I realised that this kind of journalism wasn’t the kind of stuff that sold and I would be better writing articles on ‘what your Halloween outfit really says about you’ (no offence to The Tab).
I met Hannah, the Editor-In-Chief for the Human Rights Journal, at a charity event for Leeds Friends of Syria. I explained to her about my interest in humanitarian issues, and she told me about the Human Rights Journal. Hannah was the Editor in Chief for the Human Rights Journal, which was just about to start working on its second edition. I applied for the role of Managing Editor, which I was successful in. Although the journal was still a very new project, the first edition had proved to be such a massive success and we were determined to live up to this reputation.
As Managing Editor, my role was: communicating deadlines among the rest of the Editorial Board, authors and designers; editing and making necessary improvements to authors and working with them to agree a final copy; supporting Peer Reviewers on the Editorial Board and sharing the peer reviewing / editing work board; proof-reading final copies (then proof-reading them again and again and again); assisting the Editor-In-Chief with various admin tasks, including budget plans, funding applications, and making sure that we created and worked within a realistic time-frame; as well as actively contributing ideas to shape the Journal’s development. All of this, as well as handing in my final year dissertation and also being the Editor in Chief for Lippy, was pretty heavy going…
Working on the Human Rights Journal was the most challenging but definitely the most rewarding part of my university undergraduate experience. I think it’s because I was able to meet and work with a range of students my age with the same interests, where we were able to work to work together within an academic environment to highlight a range of issues relating to human rights. We managed to bring together a group of talented undergraduate students to showcase what they are passionate about: this included essays on LGBT rights in Lithuania; Sino-African relations in regard to human rights; photography capturing the hardships of NGOs in Madagascar, and even poetry depicting the issue of race in the American Deep South. The Human Rights Journal prides itself in allowing students to express their views, passions, and interests using an array of different platforms. For me, it was a writing platform that was solely dedicated to what I wanted to read and learn about; and it was being read by people who felt the same.
One of the best things about being involved in the journal was it was all a huge learning experience. Not only was I developing my editing experiences, but I was also able to learn about a range of humanitarian issues from around the world. A lot of the work that was submitted to the journal were academic essays that had been worked over meticulously for months on end on topics that students had been researching as a part of their degree. The journal provides the reader with academic insight into human rights but from different academic fields’ perspectives, such as International Relations, History, English Literature, and Law.
Being Managing Editor for the journal was great fun, but it was also tough. We had quite a few meetings that should have only really lasted one hour, which slowly turned into two… or three… but we managed to put together another really amazing academic piece of work, which definitely show-cased the amazing range of talent here in Leeds. We also struggled to find a designer until the very last minute; we had a brilliant collection of work to showcase but no one to help us make it look good. Luckily, it all fell together and everything went according to plan. And luckily my degree also went really well; I graduated in the summer, and I’m back this year to do a Masters in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to have a read of the Human Rights Journal yet, I couldn’t recommend it more – both issues published so far are pretty amazing! And keep your eye out for the journal around campus this academic year, because it’s in safe hands and I’m sure it will remain a huge success!