The Times newspaper is at it again. Since the 1st October, it has been attempting to whip white British right-wingers into a fury by portraying freedom of speech as being in danger. According to The Times, students (read: white students) are falling prey to authoritarian demands that they accept “personal guilt” at St Andrews University. Odd, that only since it beat Oxford and Cambridge to the title of the UK’s top university, has the paper fixated on St Andrews’ supposed institutional villainhood like a rabid dog.
CW: Discussions of sexual harassment and abuse
Conversations around sexual assault, particularly the danger to women, are often sparked too late. The horrifying, untimely deaths and treatment of Sarah Everard and Blessing Olusegun by police rightly attracted attention, but vigils in their names cannot undo the violence against them. They can instil solidarity between those mourning and sympathising, but often, once the tealights are extinguished, so are the conversations.
Last week, as I walked past my housemate’s room, I overheard her in an online meeting with her dissertation supervisor. ‘My uncle’s a lecturer in the same topic,’ she said, ‘so he can help me with that.’ At the time, I marvelled at how convenient that must be. But then, I started to think about how frequently I see this: middle class students aided by family or family friends in their studies, often receiving a great deal of support and extra resources. Are there any instances, I wondered, where I as a working class student have benefitted educationally from family connections?
This month, many returning university students are settling into house-shares in the private rental sector, as the first-year intake prepares to move into halls of residence shortly after. However, for students whose families live in poverty, there are a number of barriers to accessing rental homes, which have worsened this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has also constructed new obstacles to prevent poorer students from relying on campus accommodation.
By Henry Webb
Higher Education institutions have the power to decide whether the fossil fuel industry lives or dies. The dominant players in the energy sector may seem unstoppable. After all, as long as the oil keeps flowing, they’ll find someone to buy it. Their lobbyists will make sure of that. But these behemoths require resources beyond those of just the raw coal, oil, and gas that we are so dependent on – they need capital. Without investment banks to finance everything from pipelines to offshore rigs, the costly infrastructure needed for fossil fuel extraction just wouldn’t exist.
By Rowan Gavin
We are the morning greeting. We are cold boots on colder ground. We are the smiles in the winter sunshine. We are the chants and the songs and the stiff-limbed dances. We are the fascinator of freedom, the little red coat of resistance and packet line soylidarity. We are the educators, learning in a new classroom. We are the outrage, and the laughter. We are here to fight the power. We are power.
The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.
The only way to make the word ‘politics’, that great indicator of all manner of corruption and trickery, more contemptible is to plonk the word ‘student’ in front of it. It almost feels like you‘re not pronouncing ‘student politics’ right if you do it without a sneer, or at least a shudder. Student politics has an image problem.
By Jess O’Dwyer
Content warning: mentions suicide
Going to university is a challenging time. For many it is their first time away from home with full independence. New students are presented with countless opportunities and choices, many of which will shape and change them as people. For people with mental health issues, however, this challenge is often exacerbated.