By Michael Freeman and Ipsita Sarkar

Get to know this term’s columnists! With six writers covering topics ranging from medieval mythology to masculinity, politics to film, and disability to the environment, this is our largest columns team thus far. Read on to get a preview of the topics they will cover – there’s something for everyone.

Most columns will be published weekly: keep an eye on The Oxford Blue‘s Facebook page to see when they come out!

Hayden Barnes – On the Other Hand

By Michael Freeman

My name’s Hayden (he/him), and I will be acting as your current affairs columnist for The Oxford Blue. I am a fresher at Keble, studying History and mostly wasting time at Port Meadow. I take great pleasure and joy in the act of writing and spending my two cents in the public sphere, which I hope you will be able to see when reading what I have to say. In my first year at Oxford, writing for the Blue has grounded me and provided a channel for voicing my dissatisfaction at the way the world is currently run. My articles will take a topic of the time – be it Keir Starmer’s merit as Leader of the Opposition, the state of American democracy, or more positive revolutions around the globe – and I will put my spin on it, describing its cause and/or predicting its impact. I hope to make a valuable contribution as a proto-pundit to this friendly and prodigal paper, and I thank the Blue for this opportunity.

Ellie Redpath – Disability Looks Like This

By Michael Freeman

I’m Ellie (she/her), a third year Classics student at Magdalen and your disability columnist at the Blue for this year! You can usually find me trying to convince the deer in Magdalen Deer Park to make friends with me, dreaming about the day when charity shops get to reopen, and/or getting angry at the university or the government about various things. Writing and activism are my two passions and with this column I’m hoping to combine them. I’ve worked lots with the Disabilities Campaign before, been Welfare Executive for my JCR, and now with this column I’d like to give disabled students in Oxford more of a voice. Lots of my articles will be based on my personal experience, as a student with dyspraxia, ADHD, and mental health problems, but everyone’s experiences with disability are different and so I’ll also be speaking to and interviewing lots of other disabled students and organisations too – hence the name, Disability Looks Like This, because in truth there’s no one way for disability to look.

Max Spokes – Climate Column

By Michael Freeman

Hello! I’m Max, (he/him), a second-year His-Pol undergrad at Balliol, and I’ll be writing a Climate Column this Trinity. I say Climate, that’s just to make sure the title is nice and snappy, but it’ll include much more than that: on my radar are stories/issues relating to the climate crisis, but also our relationship with the natural world and those creatures and plants with whom we share planet Earth. A green covid recovery, rewilding, and inclusive climate justice are all of particular interest, and will no doubt form the crux of much of my writing. I’m also one of Balliol JCR’s E+E Reps, and work with Green Recovery Now in their outreach team. When I’m not reading books and writing essays, I enjoy cycling, walking, listening to the radio (I’m not an old man quite yet), and drinking cider, which my friends rather provocatively label ‘mouldy apple juice’. Inspired by a trip to Costa Rica a few years ago, I’m also learning Spanish – el cambio climático (climate change) – was one of the first words I learnt! Apparently I have a tendency to ramble on about Costa Rica and its many species of hummingbird, so perhaps this is a good place to stop, although I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to follow in my column…

Jess Steadman – More than a ‘Fairytale’

By Michael Freeman

Hwæt’s up, it’s Jess. I’m a first year English student at Univ. My special talents include; climbing 90m cliff faces in an extremely misguided attempt to cure my fear of heights, spending my student loan on shows that I may never get to see (thanks COVID-19, great job there!) and teaching myself Old Norse to procrastinate doing actual real-life tutorial work. My column, “More than a ‘Fairytale’”, is a love letter to all the things I love about folklore and medieval history. Be prepared for dragons, witches, unicorns, heroes male and female, villains, medieval ‘Kardashians’…

Think of it as folklore unchained. Folklore released from its endless representation as cliched, childish or simplistic. It is a genre that is interesting in its intricacies and its influence on the world today extends far beyond Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. You might find yourself learning something new, you will probably find yourselves looking at popular culture slightly differently, you will almost certainly never watch an Avengers movie in the same way again. What will absolutely come from this column is the appreciation that the medieval world with all its monsters and magicians was, and still is, really quite magical (pun intended). I mean they had dragons!!

Martha Wilson – What to Put On When You Want Everyone to Go Home

By Michael Freeman

Hey, I’m Martha (she/her), a second-year English student at St Hugh’s. This is going to be my second column for the Blue, having written on Boyhood in cinema in Hilary Term – not that I have to tell you that of course, you’ve already read it and are a massive fan. This term I’m moving on to my favourite bad films of all time, telling you ‘What to Put On When You Want Everyone to Go Home’. Imagine: it’s the end of the night, you just want to go to bed, but your mates are not getting the memo – so put on one of these films and you’re guaranteed to clear the room in minutes. The column comes from my two main hobbies – watching films and writing – but these aren’t my only interests. I’m very into videography (which I now realise upon writing sounds like the same hobby under a different title), the guitar and banjo, and, conveniently for my degree, I quite like reading. Student journalism has been my only organised extra-curricular, I have edited for Cherwell and am on the Literary Team for Industry Magazine as well as writing for the Blue. I hope you enjoy my column. 

Anonymous (starting in May) – Dear Men, Love Men

By Michael Freeman

Hiya, I’m a male (he/him) student at Oxford. I’ve been interested in feminist and egalitarian issues for a number of years and am going to be writing a column called “Dear Men, Love Men”. Inspired by a number of experiences in my personal life, articles that I have read (including from Alice Garnett’s excellent column – see here for more) and propelled forward by the increased dialogue instigated by the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, I want men to be better. There is a monumental lack of positive productive conversations coming from men about issues affecting women and what it means to be a man. “Dear Men, Love Men”, is going to be a man, writing to men, and for everyone. I want to tackle issues in the patriarchy and toxic masculinity one step at a time, looking at topics such as: what is men’s responsibility in making women feel safe; lad culture and how men interact with each other; men’s relationship with the media and society – and a whole lot more. Masculinity can and should be wholesome; I want all men to be emotionally literate about relationships, sex, and everything related. I want to help build men up, demand more of men, and help men demand more of each other and ourselves. 

What I write is partly informed by my own mistakes as well as from other people’s, and I am still learning. I will do my best to ensure that what I say is as sensitive and as productive as possible. We all should be examining our behaviour, and instead of finding a way to excuse what we may or may not have done, we should instead ask what we all (and yes, ALL men) can do better. This column is about allyship; tune in to read me discussing what being a man in this world should be.