Monday, 20 December 2010

Outrage at the student violence, or just an excuse to express a long-standing distaste towards university-goers?

The vast number of middle-class students at middle-class universities studying middle-class subjects and leading middle-class lifestyles has caused an explosion of hatred towards a social cohort that was once deemed the revered future of our country. People don’t hate students because they smashed a few windows and vented their anger at the tuition fee rises through violence. They hate them because all they hear about today’s students is that they get drunk, engage in a three-year pseudo-intellectualist ego trip and clog up weekend trains. The violence of recent weeks has finally given the masses a tangible reason to detest the presence of students.

The symbolic outpouring of students gave self-righteous adults everywhere a reason to release their pent-up hatred for their imagined psychoses surrounding the ‘wasteful’ lifestyles of students. Very few tax-paying adults believe that an arts student deserves funding from their tax contributions. Nor do they see that it is their society and their lives that will be enriched as an indirect result of what John Sutherland called ‘the diffuse benefits’ of arts teaching.

Hell hath no fury like an indignantly suited-and-booted ‘authority’, verbalising his disgust at hedonistic students flushing the country’s scarce funds down the proverbial toilet. Such base, simplified ideas infiltrate through society because they are just that: simple. Everyone likes a quick soundbite that they can bleat out on social occasions. With the burgeoning hatred of the student population finally finding its outlet in the violence of the protests, frustration will continue to grow. Vitriol directed towards students is vitriol directed towards the lifestyles of students and the state-funding of degrees where people cannot draw a direct benefit between their taxes and the improvement of the services society receives. It is this narrow-mindedness and the certainty of the people who perpetuate these ideas that will continue to paint students in a negative light. The violence just gave people a way of justifying their long-brewing distaste for students and recent graduates alike.

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