This town is a crucible. And a small one, at that. In St Andrews, everything clashes, then combines. Identities are forged just to melt back together. We’re one substance, complete and inseparable – whether we like it or not.
This rude awakening has been the major motif of the year, and is present in every important issue from September to May. Let’s jostle our memory for a moment, recollect ourselves, and look back at the pivotal stories.
The Kate Kennedy Conundrum
No one cared about it, but then no one could stop talking about it either. How enthusiastic do people have to be about apathy before it’s not apathy anymore? How much do we have to care about not caring before it finally dawns on us that yes, actually, for some reason we do care about the Kate Kennedy Club / Fellowship debacle.
The issue serves as a perfect microcosmic view of St Andrews politics. Students at this University are constantly on the lookout for a new way to split from the norm and start anew. The reason this occurs is simple: it comes down to the standard psychological profile of a typical St Andrews student. We’re resourceful, smart, opportunistic, and think we matter more. We’re so diverse, from too many backgrounds, that incongruence is not only encouraged, but programmed into us. Add to this the limited and tight environment of the town of St Andrews, and it’s inevitable that people will constantly, often needlessly, break themselves from an establishment to see if they could do any better.
In this case, that establishment was the Kate Kennedy Club. And in this case, the Fellowship break was not needless. It was a credible break, for honourable reasons, with progressive intentions. But what everyone wants to know now – and don’t give me shit about “not wanting to know”; of course you want to know; there’s nothing else to care about in this town – is where the Fellowship is going.
A few weeks ago, the College of Fellows met with Alistair Moffat, the newly elected Rector of the University, and an honorary Fellow himself. Nothing earth-shattering was discussed or decided, but some interesting ideas were floated. Among these was Moffat’s claim that it was his hope, along with Principal Richardson’s, that someday, perhaps years from now, the Club and Fellowship would reconcile and join into one body. In my opinion, Moffat’s point is more than a hope – it is a persuasive prediction.
The Club and Fellowship are on an inescapable collision course, and the conclusive and culminating point in which they meet is a cocoon. Two somethings will go in, and one something will come out. Whether this happens tomorrow or ten years from today is anyone’s guess.
So it’s like I said. We’re all in this together, even when we’re separate. We’re all in the crucible, trying to break out, but always finding ourselves flattened down to equality again.
This is an issue I have to confess to not understanding very well. It’s also one you probably tried to ignore. But the deferred National Union of Students vote was one of the most decisive events to take place this academic year. And not for the reason you’d expect.
What’s most interesting about the NUS vote , and the Union’s inability to cope with an NUS vote, is that it highlights the general inabilities of the Union itself. The place is a snake pit. Everyone is working behind everyone else’s backs. The Sabbs, the SSC, and the SRC have displayed an absolute inability to work together. I’ve lost track of all the backstabbing.
The Union is meant to be a conglomeration of student representatives working together to improve the University. The petty actions and behaviours of Patrick O’Hare, Daniel Goldblatt, Chloe Hill, and the rest of our “representatives” do not serve this express purpose.
The Union is a crucible, just like the University itself. Everyone’s in it together, trying to stand out. And it’s failing because they won’t lower themselves to work together.
Here in the bubble, we often try to care about things outside of our tiny world. But we never get it quite right, the sympathy. We can never really do it any justice, the charity. In the end it’s just egos flashing and competing.
The Kony campaign was a terrible embarrassment for the student charities of this University, but also a poignant insight into how closed off we are from global reality. Students identified a problem: Joseph Kony is kind of a douchebag, and then tried to solve it: send money to Invisible Children. But we skipped a crucial step: figure out exactly where the money is going, what it will be paying for, and why. That step turned out to illuminate the fact that students were funding a war.
That so many gullible students got sucked into this logical fallacy without researching what they were doing just goes to show how separated we all are from the rest of the world. As much as we try to join the global community, as much as we try to be aware of the outside, the bubble sucks us back in. We’re stuck here.
So there you have it: the year summarized in three pivotal events. And it all comes down to one terrifying but unavoidable realization: as students of St Andrews, we are confined to a small world from which we must break free, but cannot.
My advice? Embrace the chains that bind you. Accept your dismal reality. Just smile and enjoy it.