Ad Dei Collegium
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In his first piece for the Stephanian Forum, Nitish Vasav delivers an acerbic message about people in college.
I made my way out of choking rooms full of people—full of people full of themselves, who as usual, had their timidity to cover it up; quite like the average Economics classroom in St. Stephen’s. However, this was a party fortunately and it was just the smoke. Cynicism aside for a bit, it was a good party with good folks. I left the party feeling weird. The replacements were lovely, but they are replacements after all.
In the slowest way, a blow can possibly crush you; people you begin looking up to are extricated from familiar spaces—the café, the lawns and corridors, to be replaced by people you look down upon (only to love more dearly later). While I am mostly ranting in this article that might disguise itself under the garb of critical commentary, I am also writing this in the hope that the new students don’t fall face first, down the vortex that college can be. Let’s take a step back before we return to this.
The outgoing batch was delightfully old school—reminiscent of old plays and Urdu poetry, with strange solidarity that would manifest in groups like the Mess Bench. And now, post the transition of two batches, behold the kids who are as millennial as they come in 2017. ‘Lit af’ is the new ‘Brilliant’ and well, this diverse and enthusiastic bunch of people seems rather lit af. Eclectic and promising but I don’t think that’s quite how it works here.
Over the course of a few months, all the eagerness and enthusiasm is suppressed. It starts with pathetic attempts to “get to know your juniors” through what we call ‘Intros’—the most insipid possible way to welcome the new members of college. This annual cycle of subtly oppressive “humour” is just about as funny as the occasional excuse of a joke you hear in the morning assembly. Ah there, there, there. Through generous injections of dread about assemblies and timings and rules and teachers, we begin to chip parts off the first years, but it doesn’t help to lay out the worst picture. Step 2 is a process of weird socialization where the incoming first years are slowly forced to fit the trope of a ‘College Kid’. Don’t be too excited. Don’t have it all figured out. All you’re allowed to have is sleeplessness and loads of coffee. Well, the last part is brilliant but my point still holds (without even getting to debauchery domination). Some people shall force the to-hell-with-it-all attitude down your throats, I mean that’s the tune of the times (quite literally, cue “Yahi umar hai karle galti se mistake“). Stuck in the sludge of mediocrity, these people, maybe through the best of intentions, are set to drag you in. Newtonian Laws don’t apply here for the further you are from dread, mediocrity, and general meh-ness, the more the sludge draws you in. Anything new, anything that’s out there and not hiding in the shadows is met with such harsh reactions that it would put the toxicity of the Chemistry Lab dump to shame.
Now, the Elections and the Open Court. Let’s have a glance at a largely ignored side of this game—us. Nobody seems to care about which candidate is better addressing an administration that’s using its power in ways akin to governments around the world today, or whose leadership would be most effective. They do however care about personal histories and regionalism. Engaging in meaningful dialogue and identifying areas that demand immediate attention does not seem to matter. All that people are here for are gaffes in the Open Court which will give them at least something to talk about until next year. Well, the only court for most people is not the one where leaders sit but where jesters do, because that’s what they try to make of the candidates.
Whenever there’s someone who takes a step forward, we pull them down with the entire pressure that our lack of balls creates—in the classroom, with first years whose excitement we slowly kill and more recently, with the three candidates whose dedication we brought down with debates on regionalism and bad-memes-that-in-no-way-contribute-to-the-political-discourse-we-need. Before this gets more political and we begin to discuss how fruitful fruit shops are, and how alarming monkey alarms can be, let’s reverse this deviation.
This article was never meant to convey an explicit message in the end but oops, don’t we all preach at the slightest chance? At first, I wanted to end it on a sparkling note of how despite everything, we thrive and shine because of the indomitable spirit of Stephania. However, this is more about people acting at their worst sometimes and there is no thriving and shining at the end of generally downward paths.
But hey, college isn’t an endless void, it is the endless expanse of a magnificent ocean so go on, be a sailor, a pirate or maybe just a plankton but for heaven’s sake, don’t be a mindless sponge. You are brilliant and special and amazing and *chokes on cheese* yeah, you’re fantastic the way you are so go do your thing. If you are reading this, especially if college has just started for you, and even partially understand what I mean by this suffocation, pulling down and forcing of the to-hell-with-it-all attitude, do exactly that.
Featured Image credits: Julie Mehretu.