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LANCASTER: THE THOUSAND YARD STARE
Good day to you, dear reader – and your author means that as a farewell just as much as he means it as a greeting. If you are a first year, you might be excited to read a brand spanking new column from a firebrand young author who is ravenously chomping at the bit to breathe yet more new life into SCAN. You would also be very much mistaken, for Postscript, the conveyor of scents and hunches from power’s back passage, was actually A Thing in this distinguished organ for about two years – meanwhile, your author has been very much A Thing in SCAN for almost five. So why the absence? The reasons are many – I felt it was time to step aside and let some new blood own their space. The result? We have enjoyed the concerning attempts at harnessing language by the likes of Tom Fox, a man with the literary grace of a pachyderm with a brain infection, whose column would be far more relevant and engaging if ‘What Does The Fox Say?’ was followed simply by ‘Not a lot. As usual.’ If nothing else, we can at least see the positive in Mr Cameron’s intent to repeal the hunting ban.
There is also the fact that yours only is one of those LUSU Eff-Tee-Ohs – as it happens, the one with overall responsibility for this very publication. Anything I contributed would only be regarded as an attempt to use SCAN as a LUSU mouthpiece. After all, the temptation to lash out at people in this publication who try to say that ‘LUSU people’ shouldn’t swear because students own our DNA, or at Daniel Snape whenever he goes on one of his more fanciful expositions; like saying that buying the Vice-Chancellor a cheese scone is more effective than protest or that management played a Machiavelian blinder by utterly embarrassing themselves at University Court, is too tempting and looks so self-absorbed as to be inside-out. And, finally, since SCAN is so darned good at covering the news these days, it is far more relaxing on the schedule simply to pass on gossip to Mr Perry and let his team run with it.
So, how on earth is your author to conclude his last ever article in SCAN? Does he break his back blowing his own trumpet over his ‘achievements’ over the past five years? No. That is well documented, and those with an interest can seek it themselves. Does he meander through his ‘feelings’ as a LUSU Officer? No, because that would be utterly tedious and none of you want to read that. Does he do a standard ‘Postscript’ and give you the latest news and gossip? No, because SCAN is more than capable of doing that itself these days. So instead, let’s talk about the conceptual ‘baton’ passed between generations of students and staff; the idea that Lancaster is not the place it was when they arrived, and allow me to carry on that tradition.
Five years ago, the University of Lancaster was as unrecogniseable to its current crop of students as it was to students from 10, 20 and 30 years ago. Furness and Bowland Bar used to be dank, grottier, but with more charm and more people. I have seen the heart torn out of County Bar with the thoughtless and mean-minded bar restructure of 2012. I have seen the spirit of Bowland College wither and die at the hands of vindictive people who thought they knew better yet plainly didn’t. I’ve seen our previous scurrilous villain of a Vice-Chancellor replaced by a charming scurrilous villain of a Vice-Chancellor. I’ve seen the Students’ Union morph from an ineffectual band of pissweak, sock-puppet shills to a teeth-bearing body that hasn’t shied away from causing trouble, and now gradually into a factionalised playground and soapbox for people’s personal grievances with each other (this is a point I shall concede to Daniel Snape in his otherwise patchy article elsewhere in the latest edition of SCAN). Hell, I’ve seen the College Bars start to serve COFFEE, for goodness sake!
But, these are the mere ramblings of somebody who has been here far, far too long. The University’s current incarnation isn’t really my cup of tea these days, and I yearn for the past. But for you, dear readers, it is to be the paradigm of ‘your’ University of Lancaster, and when it inevitably morphs once again I have no doubt that many of you will splutter in disgust and reminisce over the days when the campus was fields and cobbles. So, enjoy it. Enjoy every last bit of it like you have only three years to do so. A degree is 10% of the ‘student experience’, and it ought to receive 10% of your effort. You are in a three year glory period where you can be as hellraising, irresponsible, hedonistic and absorbant as you wish without consequence, so seize it by the horns like the raging bull it is. Remember that there is injustice even in this snowdome; there are postgraduate students teaching you for sheer peanuts, there are unaccountable managers spunking money up the wall and justifying swingeing fee and rent increases in the same breath, and the buses don’t always run on time. Remember that we are a community, so get off YikYak and be good to one another.
I did, and look at me now – I’m a chain smoker and a heavy drinker with hair that is starting to thin, and I have absolutely no idea where I’m going.
Five years is enough for anybody.
AND SO TO BED