Ten years and more than 2,000 articles later, Reece Goodall, a legend within The Boar has retired his status as our most dedicated writer to take up a permanent fellowship with the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) at the University of Warwick. Whilst Reece’s time as a student was defined by his celebrated articles in The Boar, he is also a real-life time capsule, who has witnessed the better part of a decade at Warwick.
The cultural and social change in universities brought about by Brexit, Trump’s election, the rise in social media, and Covid-19 has shaped how students lead their lives now, and Reece has observed it all. In his final interview for The Boar, we delved into his time at The Boar, his thoughts on in-person exams, and major political change at Warwick.
Similar to many of Reece’s articles, his story at The Boar has a great beginning. He started in 2013, as an eager Fresher, but shockingly, Warwick didn’t have a Freshers’ Week back then, as events were dispersed throughout the first two weeks of Term 1. Reece said: “I joined the Film Society, as I never saw myself as a writer then, more of a hack doodler.”
He added: “I went to a few cartoonist meetings, and I was nudged in the summer term of my first year to write something for The Boar.” I laughed and asked him: “So that’s how it all started? When you were nudged?” and he replied: “It was spontaneous, and I just wanted to challenge myself, so I wrote my first article recapping the 24 television series for the Film section.”
Reece added that: “In my second year, I started writing regularly and challenged myself to write for every section. It took me a couple years; I struggled with Finance and Sports, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing for Film, because it’s my specialty, as well as Games, and Scitech.” I jumped in: “Don’t forget News! You were instrumental in breaking classic campus news when I was Editor.” He smiled and said: “I definitely saw a lot of change on campus throughout the years, the rise of social media coincided with the change in the political culture on campus.”
Moving on specifically to the social and cultural change Reece saw in his decade at Warwick, I asked: “Do you think you could characterise the political change you’ve noticed on campus?”
Reece replied: “One of the major political events I remember was the 2015 general election, the change from the coalition government to a Cameron majority. Students at Warwick were not happy with the increase in fees and the conservative government.”
“In general, I’d say there were more hustings on campus in the past. MPs would come onto campus to debate in the run-up to elections, and we had more society-driven political speakers. Politics at Warwick seems to have become more binary and less nuanced now, but this isn’t exclusive to Warwick.”
I couldn’t agree more. Despite current Warwick students having experienced unprecedented levels of academic turmoil, from Covid-19 during our first and second years, to disruptive UCU strikes that has left a lot of Warwick graduates without confirmed degree classifications, student activism doesn’t seem to be as loud as it was in the past.
On this, Reece said: “I’d love to see more of a debate at Warwick, and a range of political choices.”
Sticking to the theme of change at Warwick, I was keen to ask Reece his thoughts on a significant footnote in Warwick’s academic history; the transition from in-person exams to a heavier emphasis on coursework, and online teaching.
Describing what it used to be like, Reece said: “It’s a shame because even before Covid, Warwick was stripping away choice for students. There used to be a lot more options to how you could be assessed compared to now.”
He added: “ I guess more assessment options means more paperwork. There used to be a lot more optional modules, even 7.5 CAT modules.” Deciding to follow up on his comments, I mentioned how there is a petition signed by over 120,000 students in the UK who claim they deserve a refund from UK universities for their degrees.
On this, Reece spoke about his own relatable personal experiences with covid, and how it affected his PHD: “I have a lot of sympathy for first years during lockdown. They were really done over, and I don’t think anyone could claim it was the same experience as everyone else, and they definitely came to university expecting an entirely different experience.”
“As a postgraduate student, I felt somewhat neglected by the university during lockdown, and it was supposed to be an incredibly intensive learning few years for me. I think people could potentially claim for compensation but every circumstance is different.”
Shifting the conversation towards The Boar’s social change against the backdrop of Warwicks’, I brought up mine and my Co Editor-in-Chief’s current priorities to modernise many technical and operational aspects of the newspaper. On our attempted modernisation, Reece mentioned how he “thought it was exactly the right thing to do with a society like The Boar. With such a fantastic legacy, and a rich history, the worst thing a society can do is not move forward.” He addedt: “There would be mistakes made along the way, (naturally), but moving the society forward is best for everyone.”
Well there you have it, you’ve heard it from the master writer and Warwick legend himself. Modernisation is key, and it must happen. Carrying on with the subject of modernisation, Reece continued about print media’s transition to digital content, and spoke about how “as a kid, there were more newspapers, and there are probably going to be less and less going forward. There are funding pressures, and many of the subjects that major physical newspapers cover can often be found digitally.”
He offered an interesting thought: “You can never replace the feeling of having a physical piece of paper in your hands. Regional papers like The Boar provide a unique perspective into local communities, and this means there will always be a space for grass root newspapers to keep printing. There are great opportunities.”
Finally, on to my favourite part of the interview, Reece spoke about some of his more memorable articles, including article number 1000, a multiple section collaboration on Agatha Christie’s novels and their adaptations.
Discussing a small conspiracy theory, Reece mentioned how he had interviewed the Editor of The Babylon Bee, a news satire website on free speech, and a few months later they were banned fromTwitter for fake news and reality distortion.
Reece stated: “A lot of people thought Elon Musk bought Twitter to bring The Babylon Bee back, and there might be a little bit of truth in that, especially with what he’s trying to do.”
Lastly, in an interesting take on journalism nowadays, Reece spoke about his endeavour to maintain impartial journalistic integrity and how he has “written a lot of articles questioning journalists, and wrote about how some facts presented in the media were untrue.”
The interview ended with a poignant quote that is representative of Reece’s dedication to student journalism and The Boar: “As journalists we work hard to tell the whole story, and I’ve written some wonderful and wacky things in the past, and I’m glad I gave it all a go.”
We wish Reece the best luck in all his future opportunities and his teaching career at Warwick, and on behalf of all of the current executive, thank you very much for the last decade.