Joe Goodman’s wrong to blame Cambridge for making him that way

On the one hand studying at Cambridge awards us a kind of mystical aura, a level of praise saved only for us and the others in Oxford. On the other hand, this isn’t altogether helpful as it only serves to fuel other fires – the accusations of privilege.

Sometimes we don’t help ourselves – think back to this article written by an Oxbridge snob, done, apparently with satirical intent – but a lot of the time the press come looking for issues. We only have to keep an eye out for the Daily Mail paparazzi who skulk around Jesus Green on Caesarian Sunday to see this in motion.

It’s very rare, however, to have an attack from the inside. That’s because once you are a student here, the aura and the façade built around us disappears and you realise that for all the pomp and ceremony, we’re largely just normal students working towards a common goal. (Not failing, if you’re wondering.)

Joe Goodman’s article for the Huffington Post is such an attack. Well, from someone that was on the inside and just got out. Joe was a student here for three years, he wrote for The Tab, he went to May Balls and he took part in all the trappings of Cambridge life. Then Joe left Cambridge and used his position of privilege, to complain about privilege, to get his shoe in the door as a freelance journalist.

Back in better days, when Joe presented hit Tab TV program Seven Deadly Cindies.

One of us: Back in better days, Joe presented hit Tab TV program Seven Deadly Cindies

Why did you do it Joe?

At first glance, maybe you’ll take Joe as he wishes to be seen – a gallant defender of the working man and denier of privilege – you know, once he’d already gained it and exploited it for himself.

Perhaps on closer inspection we might decide Joe is spewing this self-deprecating nonsense in order to fit in with the rest of society – I mean, he does write for Vice now. Doesn’t that just defeat the point of his argument? By distancing himself from Cambridge to fit in with everyone else, isn’t he just further distancing Cambridge from society?

If you want to take issue with anything in this piece – and there is plenty in there to take issue with – it’s the comments on access students that really niggle. For Joe, students that come into Cambridge from access courses are co-opted into this seedy world of favours and exclusivity. In tearing them away from their working class roots we are apparently jeopardising the future of the working classes and forcing them toward “a detachment from the working man’s plight”.

I used to be normal, then Cambridge turned me into a post-exam cava-spraying twat. What decadence.

What decadence: I used to be normal, then Cambridge turned me into a post-exam cava-spraying twat

I’m an access student. I came here from a local London college, with a few GCSEs and no A-Levels. I worked hard to get here and I am appreciative to the university for giving me a chance to come here and do well. I am not appreciative of Joe Goodman telling me I will forget my roots, that I will abandon who I am just because I’ve worn a gown to dinner and spoken to people from outside of my class bracket.

Selling out to the bourgeoisie.

Selling out to the bourgeoisie

The idea the traditions of the university are “propping up the class system” is as ridiculous as it sounds. Does the class system work in the same way as trickle-down economics? I had no idea what goes on behind college doors at Cambridge is the reason behind the entrenchment of the class system in the UK. The reality is not everything is about Oxbridge and the real causes run deeper.

As for his diatribe on May Balls, I attended the Wolfson May Ball because I ran it. If you can’t afford a ticket, maybe get involved with your college. Also, as an organiser I saw the entirety of my budget was covered by ticket sales, tickets that covered food, alcohol and entertainment for nine hours.

I think Joe Goodman is right – he is an arrogant brat, but I don’t think it’s got anything to do with Cambridge.

  • this is

    pretty right on.

  • Joe

    is right. I am a recent graduate of Cambridge and it made me into a terrible person, and it wasn’t until I left that I realised that deep down I am so much better than everyone there.

    I didn’t come from a rich background and my parents had to WORK to afford all the private tutors they got me. When I arrived at Cambridge I hated those from public schools and didn’t want anything to do with them, until I realised their status afforded them many perks and I was forced to try to impress them to become one of them. God I hate how Cambridge forces you to be this kind of person to get ahead in life.

    After years of living this lifestyle, I realised things were changing. I was no longer excited about being rich, it just felt kinda natural. I was no longer embarrassed when I passed a homeless person, instead just learned to ignore them completely. I even started saying disparaging things about the poor, destitute and general minorities, which i would have only just thought before. Damn Cambridge. Damn damn damn it for making me into this person.

    The worst part is how they make you spend so much money to keep up with all the people who have so much money. I didn’t want to do it, but if I told them I couldn’t afford it, then they would immediately dismiss me as poor, also I’d be lying because I could easily afford it so why not? Fucking Cambridge.

    I remember one day I was looking at a picture of me looking at some fireworks on Facebook and thinking, God you look so cool and you really are the bomb. And with that, I saw how easily I could buy my way into feeling special, forcing me to continue doing that forever. FUCKS SAKE CAMBRIDGE

    Now that I am graduated I want to start giving a lot it back, which is my I’m going to be paying my student debt and not being unemployed. I’m working for a finance company – I’m not going to say which one just that it pays really well. I have thought about giving money to charity or even some to my family, but the life of excess I had at Cambridge has made it hard to go back to Basics now that I’m used to Taste the Difference (that’s a metaphor, I shop at Waitrose now). What you have done Cambridge sickens me.

    Cambridge changed me. And even though I’m such a good person to be aware of how it’s made me an awful person, I’m still unable to shed the dickishness it has instilled in me. That is truly how poisonous Cambridge is, and you have all been warned.

  • what on earth

    is all the fuss about? Cambridge has some weird traditions and lots of posh people sure but there are also people from less well off backgrounds. there are so many charity societies events and organisations run by students… cambridge has helped me to help people – why would it make you into a snob? it depends who you hang out with i guess??

  • S

    If the attitudes learned at Oxbridge aren’t one of the things reinforcing the class system, I’d like to know what the author thinks is.