Deception in St Andrews

Has it happened to you?

I remember being a fresher acutely. I remember everyone that helped me. I remember throwing up on my academic father and him laughing about it later. I remember butting into the head of Modern History’s office uninvited and begging to be told where my tutorial was, and he kindly offering me an apple and a couch. I remember every extension of kindness to me because I was so desperate for it at the time.

So last week, when a blonde-haired and blue-eyed boy asked where Ma Bells was, I felt obliged to walk him there. I figured it was time to pay tribute to the older-buddy system that benefited me so graciously. We traded small talk on the way; I asked him where he was from and how he got interested in the society throwing the party. He told me he was a fresher living in DRA, giving me doe-eyes as we crossed the street hiding his open can of Dragon Soup from the cops. I assumed the position of Older Knowledgeable Student Lending a Hand, chuckling as he told me how excited he was to be a part of this university.

Upon parting, he shook my hand, invited me in, and told me he’d like to buy me a drink. I smirked smugly, thinking how cute it was that a freshman wanted to court me with overpriced royal-tainted alcohol, and skipped off feeling virtuous.

“Hey, if you do end up coming,” he called. “Bring your friends!”

What? Why did he care if my friends came? Minutes later my friend told me that she had tried to intervene before I had left with him. The ‘fresher’ had been trolling Greyfriars all night, looking for people to show him where the party was. Turns out it was the president of the society throwing the Ma Bells soiree. My scared blonde fresher had a fake name and a full bio online that illustrated his extensive involvement with the society in question, complete with cheeky misogynistic quotes.

He got me good, and my radar is usually better than this. Apart from it being deceitful and creepy, this guy single handedly did the only thing you can’t do in St Andrews: you can’t screw with the hierarchy. You can eventually redeem yourself for a ridiculous amount of things: you can urinate in marquees, you can streak down the Scores, you can throw up in the bar stall next to your philosophy lecturer. You just can’t bruise the goodwill of upperclassmen. It’s a 600-year-old rule. I don’t condone hierarchy sins being more scathing than the list above – they just are.

This is how this town functions. It’s what we base our traditions and social lives around. If it changes, I’d like a memo, just so I don’t have to know this prick got the best of me on what I thought was standard practice.