Last week I decided to go on a night out with my university's English Society. Despite being a mature student (only by age), I headed to a club with the posse to show them my Tap and maybe attempt to teach the art of courting.
Whether it is innate, like cats unable to withstand an empty box, the majority of students seem to roam around in flocks, like sheep. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever ascribed this animalistic form to students – the bar, Baa Bar, does it shamelessly.
This is no choice of the students though. Herded from one educational pen to another, students (generally speaking) become accustomed to this formation, creating a fear within themselves of straying alone into a world of self-made decisions and an audible voice (baa).
Undoubtedly, there are always exceptions to the rule, but those black sheep are usually discouraged from their unorthodox thoughts, together with an, ‘I told you so’ sign at the ready. What the herd doesn’t understand is that, despite that lone sheep getting stuck in the barbed wire as it tries to flee the flock over and over, one day it will succeed, and life on the other side WILL be greener.
As a student myself, who pays full fees and is committed to attending my course to get as much information as possible, I feel entitled to raise questions about what I’m being ‘sold’. Does the salad have nuts in it? You would ask at a restaurant if you were allergic to nuts. Do you have this in a smaller size? You would ask the shop attendant after discovering with glee that your shirt size is now too baggy. Why, then, should a student not be able to question the products they are being sold by the university enterprise? The reason I am told (one I do not believe) is that if you baa too loudly, the shepherds (tutors) will come and segregate you from the herd and shave you prematurely (reduce your forthcoming grade) as a lesson to others. I love fiction.
Anyway, so I’m in the queue praying for the clock not to turn midnight; it’s a penny entrance before. While standing there, more flocks arrive and are veered to the back of the line—some sheep are yelled at, others whistled to, the rest are pushed, plucked or conveniently positioned. Some roam around showing off their Golden Fleeces, which in reality is just plain wool stained by spray tan. The instant you step into the paddock of pleasure (paying a pound instead of a penny due to false advertising, but who’s going to say anything?), more shepherds are waiting to direct you into the different pens on offer. At one point I had to transfigure myself back to my human form in order to shout back at the shepherd who was shouting and shoving me into the back of a ewe, as if to force me to reproduce!
What happened to the protesting students of yore, the ones who, despite receiving an education for free, would still stand up to, and challenge, those who did not have the best intentions in mind for the future of our nations? Don’t worry, my soapbox is currently in repair. This is me on my tiptoes.
Since high marks are what people want in life, speaking up and raising questions, which will inevitably unsettle inches of dust, causing visual impairments, breathing problems and a general discomfort, is, to the majority of modern-day students, implausible. The development of a student community continues to remain individualistic. There are a few who I watch attempt to escape the herd (like Rocky from Chicken Run), but just need that little bit of help from others to succeed.
I have made my generalisations, with reason, for a reason. It is time to shake that wool from our eyes and look at where we are being taken. As students, humans, we have a right to defend ourselves and not take life as it stands; a sheltered journey into the slaughterhouse.