I saw a headline on Twitter this morning from a national newspaper claiming that it would do our “spoiled young” good to stay in Britain during lockdown rather than travelling over summer (can you guess which newspaper it was yet?) and it got me thinking. Why are generations before mine so desperate to tarnish us with a brush that makes it look like we care little about the nation we live in, or even those around us?
Students in particular have been given rough treatment for as long as I can remember. We are classed as idle, having everything handed to us by the government or by parents, and (my personal favourite), ‘snowflakes’. I think snowflakes means that we melt under pressure. In truth, I never totally figured out what that particular insult meant.
The sad thing is, as with most lazy stereotypes, if the people doing the stereotyping would dig a little deeper, they would realise that their labels are simply untrue.
My journalism classmates and I, for example, are not just sat at home doing nothing now Covid-19 means that we cannot go to lectures on campus. We are continuing to be assessed, which means we have to continue doing our university work, in conditions that do not suit journalism! We conducted an entire simulated newsweek from our bedrooms, using nothing more than the technology we have in our houses (which for the most part was laptops, mobile phones and free editing software courtesy of Adobe).
We also still have to do our exams, which has resulted in exams being sat with Zoom calls in the background, where moderators simply sit and watch us through their webcams – I have never known exam regulations as tight as those for exams sat from home. Not to mention the financial insecurity we face over our grades and our graduations. Will those of us in our final year or doing masters get our qualifications at the end of this year? One of our other authors covered this far better than I can, you can read more into that here. Life for students carries on as before, in more difficult circumstances, just as most people are experiencing. We are no different.
Then there is the issue of work. Almost every student I know – from first years who I share classes with, to housemates and friends who have graduated – had some form of job before lockdown was initiated. A housemate of mine now does his job from home, despite his company being desperate to get him back into his place of work as soon as possible. I had a job in a local bar and I am now furloughed, and contrary to popular belief I would love to be back there, and not for the money as I am still being paid. I miss the social aspect of work, and having spoken to my work colleagues they agree with me.
If all else fails to persuade you that students are doing the best we can during lockdown, I know that most of us have discussed joining the workforce as fruit and vegetable pickers, in place of the migrant workforce that cannot come to the UK this summer. It isn’t about wanting to give the appearance of doing something, or even that we’re out there for the money. We genuinely care about this country and we want to do our bit to help.
So before you give students a bad rep, think twice about what we are doing to, and how we are playing our part. We are all in this together, and dividing us further will do no good for anyone. Students are doing their best, we don’t need lazy headlines about us.
Editor’s note: The Sun columnist in question appears to embrace some double standards when it comes to her headlines and her lifestyle. Twitter, as usual, has been quick to point this out, as demonstrated by this tweet from Steve Peers: