Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cambridge at the End of Term

I returned from London for the last week of Michaelmas term, to discover that people were occupying the Old Schools in protest of the UK fee increases. Since I really believe all education should be as free as possible and I think protests are in themselves important as a form of political expression and are often effective (they worked with the VCA and I do think even if they don't initially succeed they mean at least there's some sort of record of resistance, that resistance is felt), I got over my fear of walking into a room where everybody but me knew each other and went along. It turned out there were plenty of people I knew there and it was wonderful, a sort of energetic protest universe, and we blew up balloons and wrote anti-tory slogans on them. It's nice when people care enough to actually act when politicians try to do bad things rather than just being cynical and accepting it, and it was like a party, a party where everybody believed in everybody else's rights and everybody could do whatever they wanted and nobody wanted to hurt others... 

I really loved the occupation; it was like a universe that I agreed with, contained within a beautiful room in the centre of Cambridge, and it felt like even the room was happy, like the room was finally being used and loved as the social and intellectual forum that it had always wanted to be... 

Unfortunately, I missed the first three days because I was in London and the last four days because I was in Ireland. I wish I'd been able to be more involved, but I'm still really pleased I was there at least a little bit and really, really pleased that it took place. My supervisor mentioned to me that he thought for a lot of the younger students it was a sort of political coming-of-age that would really influence who they became as people, and I really think that that's a sort of lovely experience to have when you're nineteen, because there was just so much contained in that room, so much hope and energy and kindness and community, and it's really a good model to have in your mind for what a society should be.

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