University of Leeds

Classism still exists in uni culture, and I’m tired of everyone denying it

It’s not ‘banter’

We are supposed to be the generation of equality. We are the supporters of feminism, the LGBT movement and the punch line of Jeremy Corbyn's campaign. And yet here we are, dressing up as "chavs", mocking the working class and living up to be the posh, elitist brats that they told us we'd grow up to be.

But it's just 'fancy dress', right?

Fancy dress is not synonymous with discrimination against the size of someone’s bank account. It’s not stereotyping and degrading people because they don’t have Daddy to pay for a new Tommy Hilfiger sweater. A “chav” is not a role you get to play for one night. There is a human being on the other side of that stereotype. They’re not an outfit you get to try on, instead of your Jimmy Choo's because you didn’t feel like being Daddy’s little girl that day.

Would you wear a Hijab, paint your face black or dress up as a "tranny"? I don't think so. Most Millennials consider sexism and racism as despicable. We wouldn’t dare invoke “fancy dress” upon them, so why do we think classism is acceptable?

Because the class system is bullshit

We use "chav" socials as a way to mock both the elite and the lower class, because we think that our student debt entitles us to. We think that we are above classism as educated Millennials. We joke about "champagne flutes" and "K ciders" as though the entire class system can be defined by an individual's choice of alcohol. As a result, we're only proving that the uni bubble has left us ignorant to the real world.

The uni prospectus sells students on the culturally diverse and welcoming community you'll encounter on your first day. In freshers, you’ll mock each other’s accents on how the Londoners say “bath” and the Geordies say “book” and it’ll all be banter. Until three months in, when one flatmate can’t go out because money is too tight and the other says, “you’re just rich girl broke, that’s what your overdraft is for.”

The poor student is a universally acknowledged stereotype

We have student discount, arranged overdrafts and student loans. Some students can't afford to go to uni without their loans, while others are millionaires. But the majority of us, have to rely on part time jobs, our parents and an overdraft – and we hate it. We’re twenty-something and struggling to be financially independent.

Classism is not just between the "chavs" and the elite. It’s between the student who doesn’t have to work and the one that does. The student who occasionally cancels on a night out and the one who buys all the drinks. It’s the student who has to save for weeks to buy their books and the one who can just text Daddy.

Rich, poor, working class, middle class – it’s all irrelevant when it comes to students. You can be from a middle class background and stuck in your overdraft. You can be working class and rolling in it.

At uni, classism is prominent because of our diverse community. Of course, the rich girl is gonna be judged by the poorer students for having designer clothes. And the poor student is gonna be scrutinised for not being able to afford the extortionate prices of Canal Mills and Beaver works.

Classism works both ways and it needs to stop

We mock the class system because we think that we're smarter than it. We post instagrams, tweets and snapchats slagging off Theresea May and worshipping Jeremy Corbyn. And then we call it "banter" when we dress up as the lower class and prove the student stereotype right.

We are the spoilt, elitist brats, who spend our student loans on the Christmas Ball and think we have the right to mock the lower class because we're "student poor." However, poverty in uni and the real world are two entirely different experiences.

Students claim to be politically involved, but we are insensitive and ignorant when it comes to the class system. Poor is not owning the latest trend piece from Urban Outfitters and going to Canal Mills every week. Your student debt does not entitle you to mock the lower class because you think being a student makes you part of it.

Classism is at the heart of student culture and that, is on us.