News travels fast in this town. I doubt there are many students who have yet to hear about the article on the Telegraph’s website titled “Kate Middleton is a typical St Andrews girl” and the ensuing Facebook-based outrage.
For those who are in the dark, the article basically makes highly generalized statements about the women, or ‘girls’, at this university. Apparently women come to this school come from uniformly upper middle class families and hope to get a fancy wedding out of it.Now I am a student here and a woman at that, yet I don’t bear any resemblance to the type of student the author describes. Neither do most of my female friends. The author seems to have little knowledge of or interest in reality.
Sadly, our university is not doing a good job to represent us, the student body, or the institution. The press statement issued in relation to the announcement of the royal engagement was appalling. The spokesperson pointed out that “St Andrews is a special place – one in 10 of our students meet their future partner here, and our title as Britain’s top matchmaking university signifies so much that is good about this community.”
This just reinforces the article’s statements about ‘girls’ coming to this university only to get married off to some rich, potentially royal, pure-blooded male. It is disgusting. Personally, I came here for their great reputation for studying International Relations – I wasn’t aware that my degree came with a husband.
I am not saying that there aren’t women here that are exactly like what the article describes, and I can’t comment on whether or not Kate Middleton belongs to that group – I don’t know her. However, that is true for Oxbridge and any of the Ivy League school in the US. The description of St Andrews as a traditionalist country club where boys come for degrees and ‘girls’ come to pick up their very own Prince Charming is far from reality.
The truth is that this university has a diverse student body with people from many different backgrounds. And also, we do actually study here – the academic requirements to get in are on par with Oxford and Harvard. In my experience, women who attend this university are intelligent, individual and motivated. Sadly, that is not what we are known for.
We all have to endure a certain degree of stereotyping from the moment we applied to this university. Personally, I got a lot of questions along the lines of “So you must really love to golf then?” or “Ah I see, hoping to run into Prince William?”. Tell someone that you attend the University of St Andrews and they immediately think you are a snob.
Right before I arrived here as a fresher I was sure that I would never fit in. I wasn’t from a rich family, didn’t attend some posh school and I didn’t own a pair of UGGs. Much to my relief I wasn’t alone. However, these stereotypes don’t just come from outside of our little Bubble though. We all do it, everyday. History of art students are yahs, every american studies IR and so on.
Stereotypes are earned and St Andrews probably has a higher share of students from high-income families than other schools. However, when those stereotypes become what this University is most known as it is a bad thing.
This university offers far more than top matchmaking and royal romances. Being a student at the University of St Andrews is great, but not for any of the reasons highlighted in that article. There are wonderful students here, we have amazing lecturers and a unique community. The University should make an effort to represent all students part of our community. Talking about “typical St Andrews girls” and putting “top matchmaking university” on their CV detracts from all that this university really is.
You would think that the spokesperson would be aware of the implicationsof such statements. I don’t think I’m alone in being tired of the overemphasis on finding your lifelong partner here. Just thinking back to my welcome address by Dr Richardson makes me cringe.
The University of St Andrews will soon celebrate 600 years. This place has seen many changes during the past six centuries. It has become a top range school, renowned for research and academics, and the home to a range of bright students.
I hope that this won’t be eclipsed for the next year by the fact that Prince William found his bride-to-be here.