Arriving at Durham university can feel like stepping onto another planet. It’s hard to deny that there is something unique about this place and it’s easy to be swept along for the ride. Sitting down at this table we all want a slice of the Durham pie: gowns and suits; world heritage sites; balls, of course. Though novel for many of us, taking this seat seems well-deserved after fourteen years of education. So why not tuck in?
One of the reasons I am interested in this commission is because though many of us buy into this kind of “Durhamness,” from day one, there’s a lot more to this pie than meets the eye. Take a look at the stories in the newspapers, remember some of the conversations people (proudly and publicly) have here, and ask me about some of my own (negative) experiences; these are things that people come to accept as “just Durham.” Yet at the same time we are surrounded by people trying to make a positive difference. With my background in colleges, everyone I know is on some exec or championing some cause - though I know that this is mirrored across the whole student body. I’m always amazed by the many communities we have here and how they are nurtured by students, staff and residents alike.
What I want to understand is how these different sides to Durham University’s culture interact. What behaviours does Durham’s culture encourage and inhibit? Though I have certainly done my best to make myself at home here, I also often have to stop and remember to stay true to myself. Through this commission I hope we can show that being a Durham Student doesn’t have to be a balance between success and sacrifice and allow everyone here to take ownership of “Durhamness,” as the people who define it.