Big Brother is watching you. Has anyone else noticed a fairly police-state feel to the news at York this week? It doesn’t matter what you do—you will be caught and you will be punished. Late for an appointment in town? Want to skip a bus fare? If you don’t have exactly £1.27, including at least one coin from the year 1997 and an old-style 50 pence piece with a small nick on the side nearest the back of Her Majesty’s head, you can’t have a ticket. In fact, for the simple act of asking for change from a fiver, First Buses will take you to court for fraud, and God forbid you don’t take their threats seriously, just because the paper they’re written on is purple and bends in the middle like a novelty sex toy.
Or what about exam stress? Having a breakdown? Why not have a friend who doesn’t do the exam subject or even attend the University take it for you, just out of the kindness of his heart? But beware, you’ll both go down for fraud as well. Urgent! The Advice the University Doesn’t Want You to Read! Next time you plan to have somebody else sit an exam on your behalf, choose somebody who looks remotely like you. If (to be unkind and obscure for a moment) you look like Obelix, don’t get somebody in who resembles Asterix to pretend they’re you. The University’s administration may be unbearably incompetent, but they aren’t blind.
And that’s all before we even get to Heslington East. Don’t the plans look exciting? Our own internal bus system to take the laziest of us from Goodricke to the other side of The Charles once every hour or so? Fantastic! A lake that will stay clean and shopping-trolley free for all of about six months? Awesome! A brand new campus that will drain all the money from all of our degrees but that not one of us here today will ever see the benefits of? Um… great. Thank you ever so much, Ruth Kelly. You have succeeded in turning a mismanaged university into a mismanaged university with a half-billion pound tumour.
I wonder what the new inhabitants of Greg Dyke College and Cantor College will think of the old campus. With students that fail to get past even the first round of ‘The Weakest Link’ and a recycling system on the verge of total implosion because nobody has been trained in how-to-pick-up-a-box-properly, we must look like an extremely backwards bunch to the athletic, well-entertained and well-fed Dental and Theatre students of tomorrow, with their super-venues and their sports stadiums. It’s just a pity that it will never happen. Why not? Because those responsible for the future of this university couldn’t lead the way out of a wet paper bag, let alone lead the way to a successful and prosperous future. The only ones to benefit will be the geese, and only because it will give them more drunken students to eat.