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Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 5. Monday, April 29, 1963

Sport, Study, Parties At Reading College

Sport, Study, Parties At Reading College

Sport, Study, Religion and parties. These are the main activities of the average student at Reading University.

Since Reading is mainly a residential University, the student life is centred round the halls of residence.

Consequently, there is a great deal of apathy towards the Students' Union, which staggers from inquorate meeting to inquorate meeting. "Thou shalt be calm in controversy, aimless in apathy, but mainly in mediocrity" was the general principle by which it ran.

The political scene was similarly devoid of activity. There was a comprehensive Political Club, for all political beliefs, designed to reduce political controversy to the level of the Vicarage tea party. It was forced on the students by the University Authorities, who banned Party Political societies.

Fascist Society

The Registrar's defence of this was "If some students formed a fascist society, people in the town would think that it represented the views of the University." This argument was pretty thin, and he knew it, but it was the only one he had. After a few people had protested, and the Observer had published an article, the ban was lifted.

Even so, there was little increase in political activity. The Conservative club couldn't find a conservative to be its chairman, even though most students did support this party. The other clubs were little better off.

By far the most successful cultural activity was religion. There were eight or nine flourishing religious societies covering almost every large Christian denomination. There was an attempt to form a rationalist society while I was there, but it collapsed (unfortunately) through a shortage of rationalists.

The Rev. Murray remarked in these columns a short while ago that in 1941 a British Students' Congress passed a resolution asking for religious lectures. For British students in 1941 to do this may have seemed strange, but if a similar thing happened today, I doubt if anyone would be surprised.

I mentioned earlier that parties were part of the staple diet of British students, as they are probably of students everywhere.

Kinsey has some interesting things to say about American people of upper educational levels who use heavy petting as an alternative to sex. I wonder what he would think of Reading University students. Their parties were little more than heavy petting sessions to the accompaniment of grog and pop music.

I suppose that somehow it's related to their middle class attitude.

Paradoxically, there are few more staunch supporters of the status quo and middle class values than the student who comes to Reading University from a working class background. Once he gets there he feels that he is now middle class, and that he'd better behave like middle class people. There is also a suggestion of "I got here by my own initiative. The only reason that more working class people don't get to University is that they're too damn lazy" in his attitude.

As things stand this situation is likely to continue for some time to come, because there is a huge shortage of University places, and the educational system is heavily stacked in favour of the middle class.

The remarks I have made in this article do not necessarily apply to other Universities, which may be non-residential, built in industrial areas or more cosmopolitan. They are after all, my own impressions of Reading University as it is today.