Thursday, March 24, 2011

'Generation Angry'

I've started revision in earnest now, so suddenly the desire to blog has returned, sparking massive anxiety about time-wasting and the possibility of failing all my exams. Hell.

New wave of University Occupations
UCL went back into occupation this week, and have been dogged by threats of CCTV monitoring and the punishment of individual students by management. On the positive side they've taken over a fantastic space: a corridor of administrative offices on the ground floor of the South side of the main quad, off Gower Street. If you have a connection with UCL, do protest against the attempt by management to penalise individuals for a collective movement. Sign their petition here, or email the mega-rich provost Malcolm Grant at malcolm.grant@ucl.ac.uk. Rex Knight, UCL's Senior Administrative Officer, is also involved in the legal action be threatened against occupiers: his email is rex.knight@ucl.ac.uk.



Goldsmith University started their occupation of Deptford Town Hall, a particularly swish university administrative building near New Cross Station, on Monday night. Send them messages of support to

And SOAS went into occupation last night in the Faber Building off Russell Square. SOAS management are already moving in to threaten and undermine their actions: Donald Beaton, Registrar and Secretary, just sent round a universal mail to staff and students promising to kick the occupation out asap- the legality of this move is still to be established. If you have a SOAS link, email him to say you support the occupation at his email available on the SOAS site to current staff or students. Follow this occupation on Twitter @soasoccupation .

Why the new actions?
Well, lecturers and teachers in UCU have been on strike this week to protect their pensions. Younger lecturers and those with no pension plans as yet stand to lose up to £350,000 over their retirement according to proposed changes. I was on the picket lines in Russell Square on Tuesday where it was great to see students and lecturers showing solidarity for each other, which is essential for either to succeed in their campaigns.
Meanwhile, although we didn't succeed in stopping the law being passed allowing universities to charge up to £9,000 fees per year, it is imperative to keep up the pressure on the management of universities, who still have a choice as to how far they bump up their fees- and we have already seen from Manchester, Liverpool, Imperial, Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Exeter and even Essex that most universities won't balk at demanding the massive sum, and are not interested in any attempt to demand funding from the government, not from the nation's 18-year-olds. So it up to students and lecturers to act now!

Cosmopolitan and the Credit Crunch.
I know, I should just not buy it. But sometimes I just don't want to read about Japanese theatre on the train. I want to read Beyonce's Super-Sexy Rules of Seduction. ('Mix it up, surprise him, change your hair - be the woman he knows with a little bit of a twist.' So now you know- I just saved you £4.)
Well, there's a massive great recession on and young women are among those hit hardest, with youth unemployment at nearly 1/4 (not to mention all the job-seekers coming next year who can't afford university). Even Cosmo picked up on something in the air, translated into Gal-Mag language as 'We are Generation Angry!', a new series 'designed to address the problems you are facing'. 'Cosmo takes action', the four-page spread screamed at me.
On the first page they spoke to five young women about why they are so darn angry.

  • Lauren went to uni for three years, got herself into a lot of debt and still couldn't find the job she wanted.
  • Name withheld did an MA, since which she has completed 3 unpaid internships, and made it through 4 intense recruitment processes, only to find the companies had introduced 'recruitment freezes'.
  • Jess had to do a degree to become a youth worker, but half-way through has realised there are hardly any jobs.
  • Charlotte works nights in a 'dead-end minimum wage job', after graduating last year a fully-qualified social worker. 'What am I £25,000 in debt for?' she wonders?
  • Theresa pays a fortune on rent and the bank won't give her a mortgage as she has no credit history and no permanent contract at her job.

Obviously, these young women do not represent a fair cross-section of society. That, and the strong possibility that all of these women are the imaginative creation of a Cosmo features writer aside, it is immediately clear from their stories what their worries are and what they are angry about. MONEY, and specifically student debt. Also precarious housing and the abysmal job market. Just like the rest of Generation Angry! Just like ME! I'm in a rush to turn over the page now, to see how the 'Cosmo Task Force' [seriously] solves their problems. Should they strike? March on Westminster? Smash up Millbank? Hardest of all for a Cosmo reader, stop shopping at TopShop?

Sadly not. Here is a summary of the Action Points provided by the Task Force to the Angry Young Women.

  1. 'Do something you love.... Doing this will keep your mood high and work miracles for your confidence.'
  2. 'Challenge the world around you... Challenge the idea that a woman's value lies in her ability to attract a man...By taking the time to do this, you will begin to define what's important to you.'
  3. 'Busy your mind... When we're not fulfilling our potential, it can affect our self-esteem and make it hard to know what we want in life.'
  4. 'Look outwards... at what you can give to others.'
  5. 'See people who make you feel good... whether it's making time to meet a friend for a drink, or calling your mum.'

Well, I tested this so you don't have to (that's what we do, here at shareorshelve) and I found that when I had followed all five action points, I still actually had a ginormous student debt, and no one would give me a mortgage! Freaky. Mind you, I'm not sure I understood point 4. (Outwards where? The garden?)

Funny how a magazine like Cosmo can pick up on the genuine anger currently felt by a whole generation, and twist it into a self-congratulatory, semi-spiritual, badly worded list of garbage. Mystifies me every time.

See you Saturday
It looks like Saturday's TUC anti-cuts demo is going to be massive. Rumour say the police are preparing for half a million. Also, the weather forecast is good (hurray!) so we can all have a jolly picnic, which will greatly reduce the effectiveness of kettling as a punitive tool. See you there- at 10.30 from Malet Street if you're a student.

1 comment:

woodscolt said...

On the other hand, you could interpret their guidelines revolutionarily.

1. Do something you love... strike! demonstrate! occupy!

2. Challenge the world around you... smash some windows! question the status quo!

3. Busy your mind... you need a revolutionary theory behind your praxis.

4. Look outwards... and find your political allies.

5. See people who make you feel good... 500,000 of them in central London on saturday.