Sunday, September 28, 2008

Student magazines and drinking cultures

I really don't want to feel as if I am lurching into reactionary chuntering, but something struck me today about the way that student magazines and publications continue the established tradition of writing about drinking, drinking cultures and the implicit assumption that the raisonne d'etre of student life is to regularly get utterly hammered.

You see, I do understand that drinking has been a significant part of student life since 4ever, like, but even so it's disturbing to see how much of a dominance the 'pleasures' of getting shit-faced still are in student writing.

Looking at it dispassionately the student population is increasingly diverse. Mature students are not immune to the desire or delights of imbibing but for practical reasons (childcare, part-time study etc) it may not be able to be the same sort of club- and party-orientated consumption of the average 18 year old let loose from home for the first time. International students are another constituent groups for whom the excessive consumption of alcohol may not be a major priority: I'm not saying none of them take it up, but I'd hazard that the influx of Chinese and other Asian students don't fill up A&E on a Friday - or any other night - with bladdered incoherence. And whether Christian or Muslim, I can't imagine that those students coming from strict religious cultures to the UK take up the drinking games in huge numbers. And this is before we get to the UK based students from similarly strict backgrounds. or those who - heaven forfend - just CHOOSE to not get drunk as much as possible as their first action one starting Uni.

So why would student publications continue to not engage and speak to/for such elements of their population? Superficially there is always talk of being inclusive - but when most of your writing emphasises drinking as an assumed activity, wouldn't this alienate many groups from the start?

Why do this?

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