What springs to mind when you envision society’s ‘underclass’? The ‘undesirables’ of your community – no need to be diplomatic, we all know everywhere has them! ‘Bagheads’, ‘Scallies’ ‘Chavs’, the ‘homeless’ bloke on the corner counting up his pennies for that ‘cup of tea’ we all know he isn’t really going to buy…We all have some kind of instinctual negative association with what we consider to be a lower echelon of our society. Do we think they can occasionally be intimidating? Do we sometimes consider their lifestyles to be irresponsible? Do we frown upon their social conduct, will them to spend their money on food and bills, not white lines and Tequila? I suppose most of us do make these inward judgements, although…does any of the above sound a little more than familiar to you?
How many students would you say binge drink? Go out drinking most nights through the week? Stay at home drinking copiously? How many of your student pals would you say would admit to habitually taking drugs? – Albeit perhaps ‘socially’. As for anti-social behaviour, during my time living in student halls, my flatmates often came home to find that their mattress had mysteriously transitioned from their (foolishly unlocked) bedrooms to faraway staircases/laundry rooms, one particularly unfortunate course-mate of mine once returned home to find her butter had been urinated in, after a considerably ‘wild’ night. Now, I’m pretty game for a laugh, but generally I would consider weeing in the butter to be a bit antisocial, and just weird. Moving swiftly on…When society considers student-life, do you think they are picturing an affluent lifestyle? Or even one of comfortable, sensible spending? Quite the opposite, it seems to be generally believed, rightly or wrongly, that students have better things to spend their student loans (Government ‘hand-outs’?! Reminds me of something beginning with ‘B’ and ending in ‘enefits’…) on than books, nutritious food, rent and bills. For instance, Monday nights at The Raz (insert squalid nightlife venue of your hometown here), post-beverage kebabs, 3 bottles of
vinegarwine for a tenner x absurdlyhighnumber, countless dvds to be watched once then exiled to a forgotten abyss of dust and darkness, more commonly known as ‘under the bed’, and more toilet roll than could ever possibly be used by the average-sized individual.
Now, some of you who may be thinking, ‘hold on one darn-tootin’ minute! I’M a student, and I consider myself to be a productive, resourceful, sensible, intelligent individual, who will not be likened to a homeless chavvy baghead relying on my weekly benefits to supplement my apparent reliance upon kebabs and loo roll, thank you very much!’ – To you, I say, i’m not saying that students are actually the real cretins of our society, i’m just making the point that you can’t deny society’s stereotypes of both aforementioned parties to be more than slightly similar.
It would appear that because of the promise you have seemingly made upon entering into higher education, to better yourself academically and go onto use your merits to better society by adopting some form of suitable and cyclically beneficial occupation, it is accepted that you will probably loaf around for a few years, amounting thousands in debt, doing things generally considered to be unsavoury, and living off the crumbs surrounding your communal toaster. If the forty-year-old woman living down-the-road from your mum started sniffing Meow and spending her savings on asda’s own pathetic recreation of Pot Noodles, you’d probably have something to say about it.