When an instalment of your student loan comes in at the beginning of term, there is a temptation of the greatest magnitude to spend it on ludicrous, unnecessary things. You might buy a guitar, or a games console, and justify these expensive purchases as a valuable way to spend your ‘down-time’, when in fact you have lost the financial means to buy course books, or go to the Summer Ball. Perhaps it was a similar temptation that drove former Academic and Welfare officer Grace Fletcher-Hackwood, beloved of the student body and our Student Development and Charities officer alike, to dispense with common sense on receiving her budget for the academic year.
Nowadays on the University of York campus, if you’re feeling a bit low, if you’re sick with worry over upcoming exams or fear your academic work has gone down the shitter, you can have a talk with acting Academic and Welfare officer and YUSU bastion Anne-Marie Canning, speak to the counselling service or give Nightline a call. All of these resources will give helpful advice during difficult times. However, if you can’t face talking to someone about your problems, you can pick up a handy YUSU squidgy stress ball to remedy your plight, getting you on the path to a speedy convalescence – and don’t forget your complimentary keyring.
I had a look at stressballsuk.com, where you can buy bulk orders of stress balls in the shape of a house, like the ones branded with the custom YUSU logo, and orders start at a quantity of 500 at a price of £1 per item. It’s a distinct possibility that YUSU bought a lower quantity for a better price, but that still represents a lot of money going on items that serve no real purpose, unless a significant proportion of the student populus have chronic repetitive stress injuries. Instead of wasting money on a veritable Toys ‘R’ Us of useless paraphernalia, money earmarked for academic and welfare purposes could have found its way to funding Nightline, promoting Equal Opportunities or even buying condoms that don’t bleed semen. If someone had a serious problem and was presented with a stress ball, they’d be more tempted to hurl the thing in your face than engage themselves in squeezing it.
More than just a welfare and financial issue though, this merchandise forms part of an emerging trend of students being patronised by YUSU. The squidgy toys act as a nice visual representation of YUSU being approachable and friendly, and show that it’s there for all your welfare needs. But surely everyone knows that already? The neat paradox that was ‘Keep your Cool Week’ gave us free pens, Mario Kart, shampoo and handy timetables presented us with another case of misused money; people getting the best grades will be found under lamplight at the library and not at a petting zoo. “Take a stress ball”, they told me. “No Thank you”, I said.