• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

A freshers’ take on strikes

ByLottie Edmunds

Sep 29, 2023
Image of mcewan hall.

If I had told 17 year old me that pretty soon I would be living far away from any parent, in a building full of young adults, who found that their university priorities (now well into third week) were still finding wine deals at the Great Grog, aimless attempts at navigating the Turner TV, and napping, I would have been, naturally, ecstatic. And whilst both the city of Edinburgh and its embedded student community has indeed instilled in me a zest for adult life and for academic endeavours, the freshers freedom that still lingers due to strikes is beginning to feel less like a three week party, and more like an early on-set existential crisis. 

Structure when you’re moved to a new city can help give you grounding; a tutorial can lead to a friend, and help paint a slightly more coloured map of the city that falls around you. Structure takes you out of the pub on a Wednesday evening and enthuses you to see the 8am sun on Thursday morning as you make your way to George Square. But far, far more importantly is the cost to our learning. It goes without saying that professors aren’t to blame, particularly those who make the effort to inform their students on the reasons of their striking, and simultaneous regret on who bears the burden. We know that the strikes aren’t in spite of us, we understand the importance of the right to unionise, but should there not be a little more anger felt that its never been more expensive to go to university and I personally have only had two days of contact since mid-September? 

I decided to take a year out after school which is important in a double sense. You spend the final months of a year out (or at least I did) in nervous anticipation, awaiting the revamp of your dormant academic brain, hoping, praying you can once again find the on-switch. You are told that university learning is an exciting step up, that you will be surrounded by equally enthralled and enthralling learners and your education will fall into your own hands. You get really excited about learning. And whilst these strikes aren’t forever, they are neither a surprise, and it is unlikely to be the last of them. There is also an acute awareness in me that there has also been a change in the way we pay back university loans this year, to put it bluntly – thicker, and faster. University is meant to both educate and ease you into adult life and responsibilities, and my experience of it so far whilst incredibly fun has been dealing with debt that I can’t begin to comprehend and emailed PowerPoints from tutors I’ve never met. 

So how can we become politically compassionate strike supporters without university becoming an expensive revival of Ground Hog Day with revolving activities of pub, nap and reel? Our professors are not on reliable contracts, and we are paying for an unreliable education. By silently enduring the strikes we fail to perpetuate their political ripple effect. We need to converse with our tutors and professors about taking action of our own; the consequences of the strikes shouldn’t live and die with the students. It is senior management who make contractual decisions, and it is the unlearning student with nothing to lose. Because without an education to focus on, my mind is forced to dwell on far less useful pastimes, like managing finances, or boys. 

McEwan Hall, Bristo Square, University of Edinburgh” by dun_deagh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.