Illustrations by Hannah Robinson

Amidst COVID-chaos, I’ve conducted a (telephone) interview with the founders of an up-and-coming student journal called Level With Me. This journal is specifically for working-class students to detail their experiences at The University of Edinburgh, where they are in the minority.

Cameron and Poppy are fourth year students who, after four years of living in an institution that does not feel built for them, have decided they want to create something they can leave behind; something that the next generation of working-class students can look to and feel comforted, knowing that they are not alone in their experiences.

They are accepting submissions currently and the format of these is very open. The pair excitedly discussed this range with me, telling me that they have already received multiple blog posts of personal experience testimonies, opinion pieces, and even a poem. Ever-welcoming, they appear extremely flexible, as their sole aim is to get a wide range of voices out there, with the hope that it will not just be those similar to them who will engage. Their aim is to receive a wide audience for their online journal, to ensure that this discussion that is so often contained within groups of friends from similar backgrounds, is held up to the public eye. Passionately, they told me that they want their journal to be a record documenting people’s experiences so that people don’t feel the typical working-class student at an elite university isolation. These experiences are mirrored, and Poppy and Cameron want everyone to see that they are not alone.

Something I was really impressed with was their desire to maintain inclusivity across the board. When I asked them about the format of their site, they told me that they are more than happy to interview those who are not comfortable with writing, so as to ensure their experiences are still voiced, but to avoid the intimidation that can exist in having to write about these for yourself. This will avoid their journal denying the voices of those who do not want to write, and thus have not been able to express their individual experiences in print before. Largely, they are looking to be contributor-led, happy to keep posts anonymous, help with any kind of editorial that writers may want, and provide support and encouragement for people who are perhaps nervous about speaking out.

Though independent from the University, their site will be based on the experiences of those at Edinburgh University, and I envisage it becoming a kind of extra-curricular community that will make people feel at home in a place that feels so very far away from home. I’m excited for Level With Me to get up and running, and I can clearly see, from our virtual conversation, that Poppy and Cameron have the passion and care to ensure this project flourishes.

If you would like to submit a piece, or find out more about what they’re doing and why, email levelwithme2020@gmail.com. You can check out their site here at  https://levelwithme.org