Misinformed, angry, coffee-addled ranting.
At this time of year, the attention of University students up and down the country turns to one thing – just how much toilet paper can be stolen from the library restrooms before someone notices. And of course, Varsity.
For those who don’t know, the term Varsity typically refers to a sporting contest between two (usually local) rival Universities. The most famous of these is of course the Oxford vs Cambridge boat race, or the prestigious midget-tossing tournament that all the staff pretend they know nothing about.
Varsity season is a fantastic time for students, who all become united in a common cause – namely, mutual hatred of thousands of people they don’t know and have never met. And mutual support of a select few people, who most likely, they have also never met.
Aside from neatly expressing Tajfel & Turner (1979)’s Social Identity Theory and its suggestion of in-group bias and out-group depersonalisation (BOOM! Psychology Student Knowledge Bomb!); Varsity season is good fun. Mostly.
The format of Varsity varies between Universities. Indeed, some Universities don’t even have a Varsity season, most likely because no-one wants to play football with them because they’re a bit weird and smell faintly of wee like that kid at school who no-one liked.
One thing though that is typical of most Varsities is the sheer rivalry that develops during the period. This is exemplified by the chants and slogans developed by the Universities, some of which are genuinely impressive, but most of which are at best unimaginative and at worst, completely fucking retarded.
As a lot of University rivalries play on the power-dynamic of a well-established educational institutional against a modernised former-polytechnic; the simplest and easiest format to adopt is the idea of Posh Rich Snobs against Unintelligent Un-Academic Plebs.
As such, most of the chants from the more ‘traditional’ Universities will focus on the lower entry requirements of the other University, such as:
“Two E’s and an NVQ; that’s why you go to XXU”
It’s not clever, but it gets its point across. “We’re better than you because you’re stupid”. Simple enough. ‘Polytechnic’ is still often used amongst students as an insult. This has lead to quite possibly the single stupidest comeback in the history of the world:
“I’d rather be a Poly than a c**t!”
I know people who genuinely believe that this is a clever comeback (which doesn’t help to reaffirm the stereotype that polytechnic students aren’t too bright). They may as well just go “Yeah…well…fuck you” if that’s the level of wit they’re capable of. One ‘poly’ I know of like to spell out part of their University name at sporting matches, because if people are calling you stupid, clearly the best way to prove them wrong is to spell a five letter word out loud. Well done. Gold star.
That’s not to say the ‘Uni of’ psyche is much better. For some reason, despite University fees being equal for most students, traditional stereotypes have implied that ‘University’ students come from rich backgrounds while ‘Polytechnic’ students ended up in higher education by strapping themselves to the underside of cars like illegal immigrants and giving blowjobs to pay for textbooks.
This has lead to a number of (hopefully self-aware) chants from University students, often along the lines of:
“Your Dad works for my Dad!”
Now as unbelievable arrogant and factually incorrect as that chant is, it is at least funny. Pair it with the polytechnic riposte:
“You can shove your daddy’s pony up your arse!”
Not only does this simply sound bitter, it’s also a poorly thought-out insult as it doesn’t specify which of my daddy’s ponies I should be inserting into my anus.
Before I get some angry comments, I want to make it clear that the point of this article is not to mock ‘Poly’ students at all. I attend a supposedly prestigious traditional University, and a worrying amount of my fellow students are absolute fucking idiots. What I am trying to point out is the unfortunate position ‘Poly’ students find themselves in, as there is very little they can say which can be used as an accurate insult for their opposition.
Perhaps this is why the Varsity is so important. It allows academia to be taken out of the equation, and allow differences to be settled through (mostly) friendly rivalry. If nothing else, it is amazing the lengths people will go to to support their fellow students.
At last year’s Varsity football match, one of the rival University’s players appeared to aggressively stamp on his opponent, but did not receive a red card and ultimately helped his team to a win. Later that evening, he was unable to celebrate his success as students from my University had informed the bouncers at all the nightclubs that he was too drunk and should not be allowed in. Justice.
At any rate, Varsity is a fantastic tradition and one which I am very much looking forward to. At the very least I’m hoping that the chants at the matches might be better this year. If not, I despair for the academic future of this country.