Friday, December 08, 2006

Confessions of a Holylands “Degenerate”

by Paul Headley

Strolling down Rugby Avenue, the Times Square of the holylands, can be an intensely exhilarating experience. At times it can feel surreal, like a little kid skipping into Disneyland gazing in astonishment at Splash Mountain. There is a magnificent aura of pubescent energy to be latched on to- if anything your I.Q is knocked down a few points! But when you have a few 1000 students latching on to this energy at the same time that’s when problems can arise. It is like setting off a firework at night, let off one not many people will notice- put on a full blown display - now that’s a pretty loud racket.

And really that’s what it all comes down to- that’s the problem, its not individual students, it’s the sheer concentration. Landlords were allowed to keep packing more and more young people into these houses unabated, and now the process is almost irreversible. Greed is a powerful motivator, Landlords knew the vast amounts of cash that could be made from Real Estate in the Holylands area so they went for the jugular. Whether it was charging extortionate rent or dividing a 4 person house into a 8 person house. Its something akin to global warming- capitalism won no matter what the consequences were.

The result is undeniable. If you squash 1000’s of students, many of whom have led reasonably sheltered lives, into one area it doesn’t inspire a collective feeling of responsibility, any adult labouring in the workforce right now who believes they would have behaved differently are surely being naive. I do have a profound sympathy for some of the noise levels the remaining residents are forced to endure at times, many students just don’t realise how loud they can be. That’s exactly why the only solution is increased supervision. No matter how many ad campaigns are started they will fall on deaf ears.

It occurred to me, whilst preparing to write this piece, the immense capacity people (particularly those in the media) have for manipulating the truth. The image of the average student in the holylands has been corrupted and distorted into some Pete Doherty-esque caricature which completely ignores some of the obscene treatment many of the tenants are forced to endure from landlords. I myself have lived in the holylands area for two years and during that time I have been chastised continuously regarding our heathen lifestyles and the downright depravity of our existence.

I am also a firm believer that the destructive behaviour, beyond noise, is greatly exaggerated. In all my time living in the area I have seen no more than handful of incidents of violence which were all resolved quickly. Given the vast numbers in the area (and the vast quantities of alcohol consumed) that’s quite startling. I would also like to point out that any acts of vandalism, such as getting into fights with phone boxes and other such activities, occur far less frequently than often portrayed, and are in no way essential to the average student’s night out. These acts of vandalism can be largely blamed on a very small section of morons. These activities have been condemned, and rightly so but too often all students are unfairly tarred with the same brush.


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