Fresh out of Kentish suburbia, I arrived at York a decidedly centre-right thinker. Two years later, studying what the department of Politics website describes as a “diverse and challenging degree course that covers the spectrum of political thought,” I find myself au fait with many more liberal thoughts, and shaving less. Far be it from me to dismiss this unprecedented head start into Sikhism, but in sporting such savvy cheek fringe, it has been made increasingly clear that my university, as a rule of thumb, is inextricably bound by agenda.
Indeed just as it is the agenda of traditional Christian and Jewish seminaries to produce religious Christians and religious Jews, the agenda of modern British universities is to produce left wing, politically active secularists. The difference is, of course, the religious seminaries are honest about their plan and do not try to hide behind the guise of academic analysis.
Two weeks into my first term and tasked with writing an essay comparing, but notably not contrasting, the aspects of conservatism and fascism, I began to wonder if my voting Tory six months previously might hinder my chances of a decent mark. But while there is no great crime in changing your political views – in fact, I wish the older generations would realise that it is in fact possible – it is important to note mine did not so much change, as they did disappear. Within hours, my views on a flat tax rates were abandoned in fear of failing any one of my four Marxist modules.
Certainly, there appears to be an assumption amongst a number of Britain’s sixties’ universities that young people will take every opportunity to rebel against the establishment, and I admit rocket sales of Che Guevara t-shirts have done little to suggest otherwise. However, while there is perhaps some vague level of common ground under the label of “left,” from my experience, the communist converts at York are not as genuine as they have been taught to believe they are – the £40 polos speak for themselves.
The charge that all politics students are raving Marxists, bent on correcting the wrongs of Western oppression, is fascinatingly misguided, not least disproved by the number of likeminded students to myself, who spend the majority of their essays arguing against something they agree with.
There are left-wing students at York, just as there are at any university, but the number is not so great to justify the myopias of the curriculum. The fact that York Tories is the biggest political society on campus lends itself conveniently to this argument. Besides, prior to the great betrayal of 2010, no one was that left-wing anyway; rather, most students were moderate Lib Dems, for high public education spending, leaning towards nuclear disarmament and against tuition fees.
In 2012, The University of York has its fair share of Tory tykes and Lib Dems, the undecided and the unaffiliated who clearly prove that the entire student body is not left-wing. Could it be that the student left has a history of being the most vocal political alliance? Is it this loud mouthing that leads to the warping of our degrees?
In reality, York’s politics students are not an undivided army of radicals, but rather a cohort of intellectually diverse students who had come to study politics, but were instead force-fed an unambiguously liberal agenda. Though some have embraced the agenda, others, like myself, are found wanting more than “Capitalism is wrong because …”