This story was originally published in The Crown, Redeemer’s student newspaper, and has been republished with permission.
“As staff, we had a collective sense that we were breaking new ground and making history.”
You may have spotted Richard Van Holst’s office beside the Security office, but did you know he is a Redeemer alumni and former copy-editor of the Crown? Not only that, but he was involved in the naming of “The Crown” and working on this club during the newspaper’s formative years.
When Redeemer was established as a university in 1982, there was talk about starting a newspaper. “It was met with a lot enthusiasm from the start,” explains Richard, “but there was not enough impetus yet, as everything was in the beginning stages.” The idea was put on hold, to be revisited later on.
Eventually, a campus-wide competition was held to decide the name of the future newspaper. Richard submitted several ideas, and one of his suggestions was “The Crown.” The motto of Redeemer is “Agnus Dei, Omnium Rex” (Lamb of God, King of All) and this is reinforced by the image in the crest of a Paschal Lamb with a flag, trilliums, a cross, and an open book displaying the Greek letters, “Alpha and Omega,” referring again to Jesus.
Richard explained that he aimed to choose a name “that denoted either the Trinity, or the Kingship of Jesus. I didn’t particularly think this was any better than any of the other names I’d picked, but people liked it, and it stuck. I don’t really remember many of the other names I thought of, except for ‘Trillium,’ which was already taken by another institution.”
Richard worked as the copy-editor for The Crown. His role was to check “incoming articles for grammar and syntax.” He wasn’t a reporter in the traditional sense, for he didn’t do interviews or write articles. Richard explained, “I actually liked copy-editing other people’s writing. It was a way of having one’s finger in the pie without being directly in the limelight.”
Sometimes the work got overwhelming, especially since Richard had other schedules and
assignments (nothing’s changed, students!) He said, “Today people call it multi-tasking,
although back then, if I had put the idea into words, I might have described it as ‘keeping my
head above water.’ There probably would have been some stress if reporters submitted articles
late. But I don’t remember a lot of this, so it probably didn’t happen too often!”
Copy-editing is still something Richard enjoys practising today. His job at Redeemer consists of various behind-the-scenes jobs. He is a research assistant, whose duties include “maintaining databases for research centres, copy-editing various publications within and outside of Redeemer, indexing, translation, and tutoring.”
When asked about the biggest changes Richard has seen The Crown undergo, he noted how it has “grown from a practically hand-made product put out by a group of students who were not always sure how to proceed—speaking mostly for myself—into a much more sophisticated publication with a bigger staff, better quality paper, and an online presence.”
Richard has observed the broader changes in Redeemer as well, saying, “when I was a student, everything took place on the original campus. This was the Bell Cairn School on Beach Boulevard, which had been closed in 1981 due to low enrollment. I remember sitting in a child-sized desk during the first French class and the desk tipping over!”
Back then, Redeemer consisted of 97 full-time and 63 part-time students. Although Redeemer’s
students and faculty seem to be mainly of a Dutch background, the school was far less diverse
at its outset. Richard said, “Now it’s more obvious that we strive to be more ecumenical by
including people from various backgrounds and denominations. Whether we always succeed in
this as much as we profess to do is another matter, but dealing with people from different
branches of Christianity is something which needs to be learned, and I truly hope that we have
made progress here.”