By Rachel Ecclestone, Danick Trouwloon, Piotr Dudek
When on the first night of Introweek I, Danick, tipsily mentioned I was not allowed to cut my hair, I was met with sarcasm. I had come across as arrogant, having mentioned I am signed to a modelling agency and, as a result, don’t have the freedom to go bald. This upset me a little at the time (thanks to the booze) but it also got me thinking about the role that prejudice plays at UCU.
In an environment that prides itself in being rich in personalities and cultures, what room is there for prejudice? Why do we UCU’ers so readily draw conclusions from individual pieces of information, and how much should this matter? After a month and a half on campus we, three fresh faces, would like to express our views on this.
Funnily enough, throwing together a body of students wishing to live in an international community does not create a “perfect, non-judgemental bubble”. It’s not only the physical judgement that can be highly irritating, rather than disappointing, but also the mental capability association which undoubtedly follows. Surprise, surprise, we’ve come to the ‘dumb blonde’ argument.
Just because you look a certain way, doesn’t mean you are: spoilt, anorexic, depressed, always happy, nerd, gay, dumb or (insert country stereotype). You can also reverse the situation, looking at it from a different angle: Just because you are “someone” – a musician, an artist, a fashion blogger, a model, or (insert another social role) – does not imply you have to behave, dress or simply speak in any specific way. We found it very amusing to overhear an ‘in-front-of-the-bar’ conversation of two guys saying: “Man! I just admire the way you are being gay. It is so not obvious”. Or another story of a girl talking to a boy, with an irritated face, with an accusing tone: “You don’t dress as gay, you should be wearing skinny jeans!”
Of course, these are just basic examples. However, so far it is clear that this is quite the extensive list for only having been here for 7 weeks. Prejudices are real, there’re here, and are most definitely enhanced by the multitudes of social stereotypes which can be referred to, all due to the Bubble’s diversity. We UCU’ers however have to accept that there are judgements, that there always will be judgements. We are living in a competitive environment which breeds superiority or inferiority complexes, an environment where people are continuously grasping for that one likeminded individual. Well, then there’s a lot of people to get through, right? Using prejudices may somehow allow us to subconsciously sort through peoples more quickly, yet sadly, in a very superficial manner. It’s not all doom and gloom though. If you feel like you’re being judged negatively, UCU definitely provides the opportunity to prove that individual completely and utterly wrong.
So all in all – dear UCU’ers who can’t get rid of your prejudices, we just wanted to say huge – Thank you! Tusen takk! Dankjewel! Dziękuję! – for providing us with the inspiration for writing this article, for not paying attention to the differences which exist between UCU students, by which you only underline them more. And to those of you who feel affected – don’t let yourself become too irritated by the narrow-mindedness of some of your fellow students. We hope that you will have much fun watching the confusion appearing on their faces, as we have every day, when you break their expectations.