Thursday, 2 October 2008

University Students ‘Forced To Know Stuff’

Knowledge-Based Initiations ‘Cruel’, Say NUS

Several universities are under investigation after allegations were made by former students that they were to take part in bizarre and degrading initiation rites. Amongst the allegations are claims that before being allowed entry into some universities, students were made to “Display the ability to comprehend complex concepts” and “Show understanding of a particular topic through properly-structured essays and reports.”

One secretly-filmed video, believed to be an entrance interview for Trinity College Cambridge, shows an elderly man subjecting a young female student to a barrage of humiliating questions. The fifteen-minute clip shows a university professor repeatedly asking the unnamed student about her aptitude to study English literature, her knowledge of Chaucer and Shakespeare and her understanding of post-structuralist theory. At one point, the leering don is heard asking the clearly-shaken student to show him her A level results.

NUS spokesman Bradley Ebbsfleet said “Some of the reports we’ve heard are horrific. One Durham student was forced into a room with 35 other students, where they were locked in for over two hours. They weren’t allowed to leave until they’d written 4,000 words on The Council Of Trent, including citations. When one of them complained that he’d planned to spend the day fucking around in Starbucks, he was told he’d be kicked off the course if he refused.”

The initiation rituals, known as ‘examining’, are believed to be spreading to universities across the country, according to Ebbsfleet. “Students just want to fit in and be part of a group. It used to be the case that an undergraduate could do that by simply drinking cider all day and making their hair look like a bungled gorilla abortion. But in many universities, students risk not completing GTA IV because they’re forced to read lots of books, do research and - in extreme cases – reach independent conclusions on subject matters based on logic and reasoning.”

The rise of ‘examining’ students is a throwback to twenty years ago, when the practise was commonplace on campus, according to Ebbsfleet. “In those days, a university would think nothing of forcing a student to go to over 20 hours of lectures a week and would punish anybody that failed to show a good grasp of their subject matter by giving them a low final mark. This used to be known as ‘grading’.”
Ebbsfleet has called for a ban on these practises and has warned all students to be careful when choosing a university. “It’s easy to tell students that have been the victim of ‘grading’ rites” said Ebbsfleet “As they are the students that actually know what they’re talking about on a given subject and look vaguely employable."

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