The Most Natural Thing of All
Apparently, people have been having sex on campus, ON campus. There is little to no surprise there; at the very least, we’ve all heard stories… For reasons of prudence and propriety, this habit has been condemned by both students and staff. But there is no inherent harm to public sex. And, realistically speaking, most students are past the point of getting shocked by sex. The most likely thing to do if surprised by people getting it on in, say, an empty lecture hall is cheering them on or leaving themselves to it. In truth, the only justification for banning public sex is to perpetuate the culture of frigidity, which was what a topless Scout Willis was trying to combat on Instagram last week. Which is, obviously, not a strong justification. Generally speaking, on bans of nudity or sex our society has few things to say apart from “We just want it to stay that way.”
We realise our taboos in laws and rules, thus ensuring that they will live on. Because people have a tendency to respect the law solely because it is the law. We assume justification where there is none. One could argue that punishment is the only motivation for respecting the law, yet that would only be half the truth. Rules take root deep within society and shape it. We learn from early on that “we shouldn’t do x”” and we soon stop asking questions as to why. If people have the uncontrollable urge to have sex in public places, and the harm in it is little then there is no reason why it should be banned. It probably did wonders for student stress levels around exam time. Our right not to be disgusted or offended cannot possibly be the basis for limiting people’s freedom to bump uglies.
At the end of the day there are much more important issues concerning sex to be addressed, such as exploitation and misogyny. Focusing on the smallest of lesser evils only draws resources from dealing with real problems.
In a League of Their Own
There’s nothing educational institutions hate more than league tables, and with the release of the Guardian’s 2015 edition the nightmare begins all over again. The reliance on that one obscure, sometimes irrelevant statistic that means they are bumped a good few places down the list, meaning they are disregarded by the more ambitious prospective student and his/her parents. If they had it their way people would just visit their university, have a look around, have a browse of their prospectus then decide. But to reduce the attributes of such an institution to a set of, in some cases very broad, figures that tell one not very much about the actual quality of the education they provide must be infuriating.
For example, the percentage of graduates who find employment after graduation; many students may have skipped over a gap year to take one when they finish university, or they may have enjoyed studying so much they may have wanted to become a postgraduate. The staff/student ratio is also something that must be scrutinised, as different universities have different teaching methods, as do different subjects. The ratio adheres to the pseudo-Darwinian paranoia that the larger the number of students per tutor the poorer the quality of teaching, which is simply irrelevant, if the difference, in some cases, is a fraction of a percentage.
Some statistics do tell you something useful about the university such as the average UCAS score of their entrants. Which gives you an idea about how clever your fellow students will be, which at least satisfies the ambition of many school-leavers when making their choice. But trying to rate your whole university experience, both social and academic by a numerical value from 1 to 100 and then a newspaper taking an average from that will tell A-level students nothing.