LEXI ABRAMS on the student protest: “most were just using the protest as an excuse to sack off a day of work and have fun”.
Most of the 52,000 who decided that it would be a good idea to cause complete and utter mayhem in London on Wednesday probably thought that the adventure promised a coach ride to “booze, babes and banter”.
In their eyes, it would be a memorable day in the capital with thousands of other excitable students. Friends from Nottingham, Durham and Oxford would have pledged to be there with their own new, fit friends, all eager to make it a day to remember. There was also the possibility that after all the passionate protesting against rising student fees, there would be a seriously memorable after-party.
Obviously, the way a student chooses to show the world the glittering effects of university is to go out and have a party, full of the false bravado that we all seem to acquire on a night out. Partying is what we do best. When there is a party crazy enough to shatter glass, and dropping beats goes hand in hand with dropping fire extinguishers, anyone who’s anyone is sure to go and throw themselves into the pit of politics. Smashing Tory windows is always a good idea, and possibly what most had been wanting to do since they had decided to become politically minded (for most, not more than a week ago). Then again, most of those involved were probably smashed themselves – it was only fair to extend the effect to the windows.
The atmosphere was described as one of “euphoria”. It was somewhat reminiscent of the Notting Hill Carnival, except without the bright colours and summer-tinged music. Instead came hoarse voices showing off through speakerphones (probably once bought with the intention of wreaking havoc at a college rugby match), and the confetti was replaced by banners and placards flying through the sky.
Ostensibly there was a political intention to support the march, but it was only held by a select few. The over-riding reason was to trash and get trashed. There were certainly some present who were driven by a stubborn determination to keep the world of education fair and open to all. Aaron Porter and that unmasked idiot with a fire extinguisher certainly demonstrated their dedication to the cause, whilst getting a hell of a lot of attention in the process. Kudos to them. Yet most were just using the protest as an excuse to sack off a day of work and have fun, and I guarantee only a small proportion of the crowds would have been able to boldly clarify their political intentions. As one observer from Millbank tweeted, “It’s a mixture of pretend violence and pretend partying.”
For many, the hazy memories of dubstep, sweat and mindless chanting will have resembled a night out on the town. The broken glass outside Millbank could not have amounted to much more than the snowstorm of shards on the Cindies floor. The violence was characteristic of any club night that gets out of hand – just last night a bouncer knocked out a slightly over-excited dancer at one of our own nightclubs. And the gossip afterwards was enough to beat any post-Cindies “how many people did I get with?” analysis. Try, “how many people did I get with whilst making a crucial political statement and getting arrested in the process?”
We are students – let us do things the student way. Everyone has a motive when they go out and get drunk – to shark on a girl, forget their troubles or, as this week’s events demonstrated, to change the world. Student activism is just a publicly acceptable way to party and it’s coming back in. Splash out your student loan on some placards and get involved.