Working-class students should reject identity politics
Following the latest trend of trying to cram students’ unions with as many ‘liberation officers’ as possible, students at the University of Oxford have decided to appoint a working-class student officer. Oxford, it turns out, is actually a bit late to the party, with King’s College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies having already elected someone to ‘protect’ us working-class students from such evil microaggressions as middle-class students assuming we buy our onesies from Primark.
When I heard about the move I suddenly realised that I was feeling what a lot of my LGBT friends had been feeling for some time now – that I was being lumped into one homogeneous group. This means I can potentially look forward to having some student politician speaking on my behalf and carrying out censorship in the name of my emotional wellbeing. Once made a member of this ‘protected’ group, I would be expected to think and behave in a certain way. I’ve seen it happen with LGBT friends, whereby they are expected to have the exact same political views as the rest of the group, or else they risk being ostracised. We have already seen the effects of this. Last month, out-of-touch student officers told working-class students that they couldn’t hold chav socials because they are ‘classist’. With the introduction of working-class officers this problem will only get worse, as liberation officers are voted in by a tiny minority of those they are supposed to represent.
I know this may come as a shock to a lot of student politicos, but us working-class students are not here for you to pity and coo over. We are free-thinking individuals who do not want to play your games. We can think for ourselves, we can stand up for ourselves, and we do not need some patronising student politician telling us what is good for us. Working-class students should reject any candidate who tries to represent us – keep the post empty or, better yet, stop the position being created in the first place. We need to send a message to those who think we are too weak to look after ourselves. If student officials weren’t so out-of-touch, they might notice that once you get to university the line between middle class and working class all but disappears. We are all in the same boat, because, as students, we’re all bloody skint anyway.
Ieuan Joy is a writer and student.