I’ve been wondering recently if all University life actually is, is high school without the parents or teachers looking over your shoulder. Acceptance into University evidently doesn’t automatically upgrade you to grown up and no amount of UCAS points can prepare you for another three years of exactly the same behaviour that you thought you were leaving behind, just on a larger scale.
To start with, the multiple anonymous Facebook pages can only be described as the modern equivalent of writing on bathroom stalls or scratching messages into science desks. Only now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, all your activity is logged and available for future employers to discover with a few clever searches. This may still be like high school, but it doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t higher.
Then there’s the number of guys who still haven’t learned how to talk to girls so believe the only way to get a girl’s attention is to place their hands on her body uninvited. I was previously under the impression that we had left games of “tag you’re it” long behind us, but apparently not because plenty of people still think that that’s the only way to pull. Yet, if I remember the rules correctly, the aim is to stay away from the wandering hands and avoid being caught. Maybe that’s why most people look so annoyed at getting grabbed.
“Popular kids” were certainly not left behind when we graduated, only now they have a new name: BNOCs. These are those individuals who make their presence on Campus known early on, probably by running for halls committee or getting involved in every aspect of the different sections. It is generally assumed that it is impossible to run against these people for any sort of position just as it was at school when the “popular kids” planned prom and the year book. Now, just as then, these well known individuals are the ones who make all the decisions that the rest of us live with. Only we call it Union Council and mask it as democracy.
Just as with Year Councils at school, no one knows what Union Council actually does, when it meets or really cares about it. It is mentioned at the beginning of the year when elections are held and that’s the extent that most people ever know. The fact that more people will vote on what to name the new shake bar than had a say on restructuring Union democracy will go unnoticed by most and those who are aware probably are not that bothered.
For those who don’t love sports or elections or volunteering, there is a wide variety of societies available but we haven’t progressed that far from rugby lads and drama geeks with the way the societies are viewed. This became apparent to me at the last Council when, in a throwaway comment about the rebrand, one VP assured us that Societies would be able to keep their “quirkiness”. Quirky is one of those synonyms like “great personality” that stands out implying oddness and a certain lack of the “cool factor”. Not that that will probably come as a surprise to anyone within a society but it does have a certain ring of all those times the “popular kids” and high school jocks called others weird for band hoodies or slogans on t-shirts that were bought somewhere other than Topshop.
I am pretty sure I remember University being sold as freedom and independence where everything would be awesome and far removed from the previous seven years. Yet the only signs I see of that is that no one tells me to take my earrings out or not to stay up too late any more. We’ve swapped cliques for committees and upgraded to Mean Girls: The University Years. I have to say, I’m with Bowling for Soup on this one; I’ve seen it all before, I want my money back.