Comment Editor's Opinion: Working as a team


Michael Athey on the importance and joy of belonging to a team at university

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Image by Lucy Cooper

By Michael Athey

Writing is most commonly associated as being a solitary activity. Yet, contrary to the impression that people assume when they see our names etched next to our articles, I have found my time at Nouse a far more collaborative experience than people might expect, and I haven’t felt this sense of ‘teamwork’ stronger than during this most recent term.

Our previous edition was in my opinion a huge success, but despite this the atmosphere for some of us wasn’t quite as celebratory. This was understandable, as this was the first edition that was printed out of lockdown, and it presented a lot of issues for us to tackle. Although these issues were solved, they were stressful.

However, what impressed me was how as a team we rallied together. Not willing to accept that this outcome was set in stone, that people will always be a bit deflated after a week of production, we have collectively strived together to improve.

This meant thinking anew and tearing up the rulebook. I mean this quite literally, for we created two new positions on the senior team – now filled by the lovely duo, Gracie Daw and Emily Hewat – which involved changing our societal constitution. This has had the benefit of relieving the pressure of some of our more senior team members. We’ve also worked on improving things socially, with a mint Halloween social as well as an incredibly enjoyable evening watching Wes Anderson’s French Dispatch together. The team’s current comradery is truly quite special.

This newfound invigoration to work together has definitely been embraced here at comment too. Sonny, although facing the difficulty of being the ‘new guy’ on the block in a team that already knew each other, hasn’t whined, complained or been fazed by this at all. Not just hitting the ground running but rather strutting with elegance and showing myself up especially! Ben has balanced being a committed team member for Uni Lacrosse as well as being a star here in the comment section, proving he’s a right blessing for both societies. And lastly, Molli has been the linchpin of the entire team and has done it all while battling tonsillitis. Move over Gal Gadot, here’s the real wonder woman.

It may be the English student in me, identifying symbolism where there is none, but I feel this theme of teamwork can be picked up on in lots of our section’s articles this edition. Valentina’s emotional and brave piece depicting her cancer diagnosis during Covid-19, shows the loneliness that comes from the absence of not being able to support each other through tough times. Dom and Lilli’s articles both show how we’ve got to look out for the whole of our teams, regardless of differences and learn to break those boundaries down. Finally, the excellent Clash of Comments on Insulate Britain delves into teamwork on a critical level. Questioning, in the face of the biggest existential threat of our lives, how do we unite to tackle climate change in a productive manner that works for all?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find two teams where I belong during my time at university. Firstly, at James College Badminton, where I am one of the captains, I don’t know what I would’ve done without them this last year. They’ve picked me up when I’m down countless times and provided some of my favourite moments at university. As we currently battle for our leagues’ title, I feel nothing but pride and gratitude for the people that make that club so special. It’s also become abundantly clear that Nouseis my second community. As my bond to this society only grows stronger and stronger, my encouragement only grows stronger and stronger to those of you reading, to go out and seek your team at university.