For all the wrong reasons.
Can I ask you a question, what do you think university life is all about? Or more to the point what is ‘fresher’ life all about? Well I can tell you now from my personal experience and what I gather from the sea of articles, Facebook groups and photo albums that it is not about the education you pay over nine thousand pounds for, at least for the majority anyway.
I’ve seen it first hand you know, I’ve seen it for myself. And I can categorically say with empirical knowledge that alcoholism, drugs and the opposite sex are the focus of almost everyone that embarks on the supposed path of the learned academics. Well I can see why, for most people this is the first time living away from home, the first time there are clubs with ridiculously cheap drinks and plenty of ‘socializing’ less than a stone’s throw away, and for the most part people will turn a blind eye to almost anything you choose to do. Let the good times roll, sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll right? Well you’d be wrong. Excess is a killer kids, and if it doesn’t get you in during fresher’s it will at least leave you in a perpetual hangover, rarely seeing the daylight, lacking the motivation to even consider your lectures, getting stuck in some nasty habits and of course gutting your bank account like a fillet ‘o’ fish. An article from the Guardian called drink the biggest problem at universities, not fees. But in all honesty you can’t really expect people to control themselves when there is something going on every night and the drinks are a pound or less.
Has anyone stepped back and had a look at the self cannibalising, self-destructive, self brainwashing culture that has given birth to itself on the social networks? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. Either way it is very much in full swing, and it is putting a rather hedonistic slant on just about everything we see at university. Just like ‘FHM’, ‘Nuts’ and ‘Zoo’ before them these ideological geysers promote alcoholism and a stronger psychological barrier between men and women. They also make it ‘cool’ to put your education at the bottom of your priorities list. Now you could put your hand up and say “hang on a second, they’re just selling a lifestyle. It’s not really doing any harm!” But you would be oh so wrong. I’m a fresher, I’ve been on the nights out and taken advantage of the cheap booze. I’ve seen the reality of ‘lad’ culture, and yes I bought into it. It was funny at first, but it gets monotonous and dangerous very quickly. People can’t get enough of it, and it stays fresh thanks to the first year generations which are reborn every year.
Where does banter cross a line? Where does banter just get dangerous? Perhaps when it promotes or trivialises rape, as ‘UniLad’ ever so eloquently discussed. In their ‘stories from university lads’ with ‘the occasional sexist rant’ they do what mainstream music videos, magazines for women/men and pop culture in general try to do (only they don’t hide behind a facade of deceitful promotion and precariously designed lifestyles), and recently they had to apologize for their ‘degrading attitudes’. I don’t need to go into this any more, look up ‘UniLad’ on Facebook or via their website, and have a look for yourself.
It is quite often mentioned in the media that students are finding it hard to get jobs at the end of their degrees, this is a scary thing to read for prospective students. But as soon as you get to university you realise why almost straight away. People flunk their way through degrees, not everyone (I want to make that perfectly clear that I am not talking about every student out there) – just most. For many courses (especially in the school of art and design) they can be as hard as you want them to be, you have to put the work in and you make the connections. So if you get by on a whim as a good ‘lad’ should then don’t ask why you can’t get a job in your respective field when you graduate!