With whats recently been happening in the capitol over the past few days, I thought I'd try and deconstruct how I feel about the whole student protest debacle. I say deconstruct because as I set out in this post I actually don't know for definate how I feel about it, my feelings are mixed for a number of reasons and I'm hoping that going through them will help me work out how I feel:
1) I did a three year Sociology degree followed by a one year postgraduate Masters in Social Research Methodology. Although I received a loan for the first three years, I funded myself for my postgraduate studies - this was before the rise in tuition fees of a couple of years ago, and way before this proposal of a £9000 limit on the fees. I struggled to raise the funds to study for that extra year. I worked over my summer, scraped and saved, and then still had to borrow £5000 from family members. Knowing how much I struggled, I can't even comprehend how it must feel to be 17 years old with the prospect of possibly having to pay £9000 each year to study. I have come out of University with £20 000 worth of debt to the Government and £5000 loan to be paid back to the family, students going to one of the 9k Universities can expect upwards of £30 000+ worth of debt when they start their working lives.
2) On the other hand, I have friends who work in London. One of my University friends works in a building which overlooks one of the epicenters of the violence. Having spoken to her over the past couple of days, she told me how scared she was, how the violence erupting below was so unlike what she thought the protest was supposed to be like and how she has "no sympathy for students after the way they acted...".
3) The general pretention which surrounds even the most well meaning student protest kinda grinds on me. It ground on me in the years at Uni and it grinds on me now. My job takes me to the local University for a number of days each week, and one of the main things I notice each day (aside from the seething jealousy I feel that they are living the life I was naught but 12 months ago) is the idea that somehow being in the University environment empowers these people with knowledge the lay man just doesn't understand. At the protests on Wednesday, apparently one student was quoted comparing their plight to the anti-war protests of the 60s and 70s! No. Just no.
In general, I think the students have shot themselves in the foot. The protests won't be remembered for the cause, but for the actions of those few teens who took it too far. The UK press have slaughtered them (and, now the lecturers who support them) - whilst I wouldn't think twice about wiping certain parts of my body on the Daily Mail, I believe there are a great number of people who put a lot of stock with the rag. If there were fence sitters before these protests I believe now they may be lost to the Conservative garden. I think now I realise that whilst I support the cause, I believe it may now be lost, and without the cause there can be no effect, the protests were for nothing. Violence for violence sake.