Following Oxbridge’s recent attention from national papers, Alice Udale-Smith from Cambridge University’s Varsity examines why they get a bad press.
Last week whilst struggling through revision I fell into a spiral of procrastination, devoured everything I could find to read online, and ended up on the Tab website. There I flicked through a feature inviting me to vote for the “Rear of the Year”. My initial reaction to the article, which later made headlines in the Telegraph, Guardian, Sun and Daily Mail, was a roll of the eyes and a simple “well, it is the Tab after all”. This was followed by “oh dear what would the Daily Mail say?” before quickly forgetting all about it. Even after a second look at the two offending articles that caught the attention of the national press I found little to offend. Yet stories like this one and the inevitable photo spreads of drunken students on Caesarean Sunday continue to make headlines.
The reason is rarely found in the content of the story itself but instead is due to the nation’s on-going love-hate relationship with the institution of Oxbridge. In this instance, as in most cases, the story itself is relatively tame and little more than frivolous fun. This, however, has very little bearing on the position from which Oxbridge is viewed by the national press. The two universities are either portrayed as intimidating institutions for the privileged, out of touch with modern society, or as places where common students run wild holding obscene rear of the year competitions and bringing the name of their prestigious university into disregard. Whilst these two views are equally misguided they nevertheless persist in the national consciousness as the most common views of Oxbridge. Why Oxbridge is attacked for its traditions one minute and praised for them the next is a topic worthy of its own PhD. However, at a basic level it seems to stem from the public’s discomfort with such obvious establishments of traditional elitism whilst also feeling incredibly protective of them as a proud part of our national history.
Full story here.