110 minutes with WU?
Two of our writers infiltrated the inaugural ‘Whose University?’ meeting. They emerged as shells of their former selves
Tonight we spent almost two hours at the first Whose University? meeting. (Incidentally, that question mark is annoying. We propose dropping it).
By the time it was over we had mutually decided that almost all those present in that horrible, energy-draining room would be top of our Cull List.
Initially, it started OK. It was packed out: there were at least 50 people sitting in a circle. It was like Circle Time. Everyone said their names, preferred pronouns, etc. Then someone got out a guitar and we had a little kumbyah. If by kumbyah you mean circle-jerking about the evils of Cambridge Colleges. Without a guitar.
If it had been delivered in a concise, well-managed way, we wouldn’t be writing this article whilst grinding our teeth and strongly considering group therapy to deal with the inanities we had unwittingly exposed ourselves to for almost 2 hours.
We’re all for sticking it to the man. Sadly, in this case ‘sticking it’ meant lengthy, petulant complaints about how our colleges don’t treat us ‘like human beings’. Oh come on, we’re hardly treated like battery hens. Get a grip.
‘The man’, meanwhile, happens to be one of the most privileged and nurturing places to study in the country. We live in the lap of luxury, in stunning surroundings, we eat our meals in banquet halls. We have what are essentially servants cleaning our rooms and looking out for us. We have a 24 hour concierge service in the form of porters. But WU? insists we are being horribly, wrongfully neglected.
WU is a campaign that isn’t sure what it’s on about. There is no doubt that some elements of what WU are standing up for – rights for disabled students, less privileged students, and those with mental health issues – have inherent value.
But in getting tied up in logistics, WU resolved to do…absolutely nothing. 90 minutes of the 110 minute meeting was spent establishing meaningless ‘ground rules’, doing jazz hands whenever you agreed with something, and discussing what kind of aims the Whose University? campaign should stand for.
That’s right — not what those aims should actually entail — but what kind of aims they should be. Whether those aims were ‘overarching’ or ‘underlying’. No one could come to any consensus on what the WU mission statement actually was. All of it meant precisely nothing. It was mind-boggling drivel. Rest assured absolutely everyone had an opinion about it, though.
The inspired idea of actually communicating directly with colleges was only raised in the last 5 minutes of the meeting, and then was promptly shot down.
It came up that the counsellor for Homerton had offered to meet with WU to discuss the issues raised from the Facebook testimonies. But the consensus was – no. Associating with those evil counsellors (by the way, all the counsellors are evil. EVIL) was off the cards. It was democratically agreed that it was probably just a deadly ploy by those bastard Homerton counsellors to find out which students had been complaining, and then lynch them.
Sorry, but how do WU expect to get anything done if they refuse to communicate with the university? The whole thing was just idiotic.
Our personal highlight (and by highlight we mean the moment when we actually considered gouging each other’s brains out with a pen via the ears, anything to stop that mind-numbing dross) was when a girl claimed that because she had never turned up to one particular Fellow’s weekly classes, sabotage in the ranks had then caused that particular fellow to give her a Third whilst she got a First in every other module. At this point we felt it essential to bellow ‘THE INJUSTICE! MAYBE ITS BECAUSE YOU DIDNT ATTEND HER LESSONS AND THUS LEARN ANYTHING!!!’ but had to settle with doodling various 18-rated torture scenes on our notepads.
The one moment when someone (ok, one of us) actually challenged the energetically hand-wringing, anxiously-nodding (but not-much-fucking-else-achieving) group, they – undemocratically – decided to ignore it.
Our suggestion was that perhaps we’re not exactly in a place to compare our treatment here to that within other unis when we have unmatched facilities, an abundance of libraries and 1-on-1 teaching that most Russell Group students can only dream of.
This was met with an awkward silence (and an unprecedented stillness as the jazz hands dropped) followed by the group organiser mumbling something along the lines of ‘We’ll just put that on the list of things to discuss later’. A list that was conveniently forgotten as the meeting went on. A list which apparently also featured ‘engagement with the Tab’, by the way, because we had the audacity to publish an opinion piece last week about someone having a positive experience.
Our complaints could go on, but unlike most of the 60 or so attendees of the event, we are conscious of waffling and thus driving our captive audience to despair.
The Tab was originally planning a more long-term, fruitful infiltration of the organisation, but we can honestly say we’d all rather hurl ourselves off King’s Chapel than ever enter that particular ‘safe space’ again.