Parents cramping your style? DAVID DOUGLAS-PENNANT fights against the pampering parental unit piercing the bliss of the university bubble.
“They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad”. If only Newnham JCR had adhered to Philip Larkin’s mantra for a generation of teenagers whose idea of University constituted a means by which to escape their parents. For those of you who’ve had their fill of parents after an overly family-fuelled festive season, Newnham’s advert for a ‘New Parent’s Lunch’ is enough to bring up your dinner. Screaming signs invite you to “Bring you parents to lunch and show off your college!”; and with Emmanuel College also hosting a twice termly ‘Parent’s Formal’ and Sidney charging you £40 a head for the pleasure of dining with those responsible for bringing that twat next door into this world, it’s obvious that parental interaction is becoming a University-wide plague.
Remember Fresher’s week? Remember how your parents dropped you off, Dad brandishing a packet of Hobnobs and encouraging you to use them to ‘get chatting’ to people on your corridor, Mum sobbing silently and reminding you that eight weeks is really not a very long time? Remember how the main objective was to get your parents safety buckled into their car seats as soon as possible, before people started to notice that you were clearly a very large apple of your parents' streaming eyes/you had something in your eye yourself?
Initiating parents into the Cambridge social scene can only have a hideously negative effect on your image. That boy who portrays himself as a grubby northerner in reality calls his parents ‘Mater and Pater’ and lives in a Yorkshire mansion. The Pitt Club member who wears a cravat? One-up one-down in Diss and his Dad wears Kappa. That girl who spends her whole student loan on ketadrone? Her dad still thinks she’s a virgin. Let’s not even get started on those foreign students. And as for those aspirational Middle Classes; can you imagine being stuck between two helicopter mothers outbidding each other with their respective darlings’ childhood achievements? I honestly don’t care if Katie got her gold swimming badge at the tender age of five. Family arguments? Keep it to the car. Alcohol loosening tongues? More bothered that it would loosen belts and watches, and a swinging racket would start up. St John’s even has a ‘Parent’s Group’ to connect them when they are pining after their little darlings. Sick perverts.
Let’s go back to the druggy slut (just like you did in week six last Michelmas). Parents are not the signifier of your identity, and so University is for many a means to independence. On a recent family holiday, my Dad put on his pyjama top, a baseball cap and reading glasses while holding a screen of large numbers to pretend he was in a prison line-up for that casual holiday photo opportunity. If anything’s going to ruin my rep with the lay-dies, I’d rather it be my shit sense of humour, not his. More importantly, Parent’s Groups and get-togethers are indicative of the ridiculous nanny mentality that inspires farcical health and safety measures that Claire Whelan rallied against at the beginning of this term. Seeing as students are (despite any financial or moral support they may rely on) independent personalities from their parents, why do colleges offer ‘Question and Answer’ sessions to parents on Open days? Why were there accompanying parents at interviews? These dah-ling parents that want to come to formals, open days and interviews need to stay at home and get their own life. And, more importantly, stop ruining those carefully crafted personas/nicknames that we’ve been carefully cultivating since our arrival in the bubble.
Bristol University’s website even goes so far as to lament that it is unable to act in loco parentis. University is now seen as obligatory, as a continuation of school education in which parents and guardians have a significant and decisive role. By including parents in the curriculum of life at university, students are reduced from adults to children. This results in students no longer being expected to be able to stand on their own two feet; someone tried to show me where Sainsbury’s was on my first day, they called themselves my ‘College Parent’. If, at eighteen, I can commit murder and be imprisoned for it, why can’t I find Sainsbury’s by myself? It’s in the middle of the fucking town after all. If they think I can’t find Sainsbury’s, how do they think I am going to fare when faced with the interpretation of the role of Kant in the development of Formalist art theory? Presumably I’d ring home, cry, and get Daddy to do it for me. After having spoken to the college counsellor about my identity crisis.
By pandering to parents who lament the empty nest by organising these horrific events, colleges help to undermine any self-confidence gained by students while here by treating them like babes in arms. By the age of twenty I am most definitely an adult; I just read an article recommending sexual lubricants instead of writing an extremely sophisticated essay with a foresight to engaging a supervisor on a challenging intellectual level. I categorically do not need my Mummy for that, so please don’t ask her to come here any more often than she already does. Nor do I want to meet anyone else’s blood relatives; let’s face it, my friends are pretty weird, so what the fuck are the parents who spawned them going to be like? I am perfectly happy to reside in a world of ignorant bliss, unaware of whose parents are pushy/pretentious/pathetic; unless, that is, your mum turns out to be a MILF. In which case, your mum is extremely welcome to pop up for formal, and I’ll have a stack of pennies (and a tube of Durex Play) at the ready.