By Scott McNee.
Mountain High Enough
By the time you read this, the referendum results will be in, and I will either be in a Very Good mood or a Spanish Inquisition mood, and the aftermath will be hanging over every single conversation you have. To prevent this column disappearing from the minds of the Telegraph’s three readers as soon as they finish, I’ve decided I’ll need a political bent. Thankfully for the three of you, I’ll be talking university politics and not the referendum. Don’t go, I’m only getting started.
University’s a good time for politics – free time, like-minded people and all that Grange Hill shite. You just have to be careful. Like-minded people rarely criticise each other. And when nobody criticises each other, well, things get stupid. For example, your cause might be something very just indeed, but if all your group can muster is a fecking bake sale, no one is going to care.
They will, of course, eat your cakes. They just won’t care about your stance. It occurs to me that there’s a metaphor about life in there somewhere.
I get it. You just left school, my little fresher. You’re excited. Nobody on your course will know of that shameful incident in the school toilets. You feel like you could do some good in the world. Things are looking up.
I’m here to disembowel your optimism and roll the corpse into the Clyde.
Students are traditionally involved in activism. It’s a great thing, at heart, but there’s one problem. When everyone is shouting, it all becomes background noise. It’s hard for real people to take us seriously when we’re as deeply invested in the societal implications of NekNominate as we are about fighting the injustices of the system. You can see it in this very paper – we like to be outraged and comment on everything, and therein lies the problem. Sometimes, and I’ll break this to you gently Strathclyde, sometimes your chosen issues are hilarious.
We’re supposed to be smart. Our ‘HANG THE B*STARDS’ approach to every little issue is fun, but it gets us nowhere. Here’s a little test: if it seems like an issue that should be brought to the diversity team, or the staff, or even the police, it’s probably a good cause. If however, your issue is a belief that a lecturer doesn’t understand your genius maaaan, perhaps you should consider that you might just be terrible at your chosen subject and better suited to becoming horsemeat. It seems unbelievable, but I’ve seen people try to rally their peers into a conflict that only exists in the form of a poorly spelled rant on Facebook.
Not everybody gets to be a revolutionary. And nobody ever got to be one by agreeing with everything their mates already proposed. In 2011, Strathclyde had nearly 20000 students. Thinking outside the box when the box is that size is difficult. But if you want to be heard, and you actually have an issue, people will flock to a self-aware speaker. Don’t be a parody of an activist, sitting sharing terrible Facebook articles with friends who are slowly coming to hate you.
Remember, chances are your cause is good, but odds are similar that your approach is about as welcome as John Prescott’s nudes. Instead of just starting the hike up the mountain, check to make sure your trousers are on.