Deputy Editor-in-Chief Rosie Shackles on why university is the perfect place to be proven wrong
From halls to seminars, to the debates chamber, to sitting round crammed pub tables, university has no shortage of settings to share your opinion, or grumble in disgust at the opinions of others. The West End has its fair share of conscientious high-achievers, comfortable with well-worn ideas formed as teens or young adults. Coming into university, confident off the back of bagging a spot in the first place, it’s easy to take advice and “stay true to yourself”. In reality, the opposite is far more important.
We are in our formative years. University is a place to argue about bands, or TV shows; Scottish Independence; shambolic international politics; how to pronounce Paesano (I have spoken to the owner; I was wrong … it is PIEsano). But, too much pressure has been put on sticking to your guns, arguing till you’re blue in the face, and never admitting you’re wrong. Discussion is healthy; so is calling out bullshit, and so is apologising if a mark has been overstepped. And, most importantly, so is change. If you have the exact same views as you toss your cap into the air four years after sitting alone in your first seminar, you have done something wrong.
Different backgrounds and experiences bring different levels of expertise on different subjects. Passion does not always equate to knowledge, and passionate and knowledgeable people will not always lead to the same conclusion. This is not to say that you should only have opinions backed by emotion or expertise; but a lesson I’ve learned is that at these junctions, your time is better spent listening, contemplating, and, more often than not, changing. I’m still trying to do this myself, and it doesn’t always come easily …
I’m not a political junkie myself. I vote, I care, and I watch the 8 o’clock news. I came into university as a stoic nationalist, having missed out on a vote in the Independence referendum by a matter of months. From my first university post night-out kebab to now, many kebabs later, Brexit has been actioned, a pandemic fucked us all over, and Glasgow University still invests in the arms trade. Some things have changed, some things have stayed the same.
Allow yourself to be moulded by the people you meet, the things you read, and the mistakes that you make. I’m not necessarily talking about a complete upheaval of thought, but offer to be open to difficult conversations that can bloom naturally in new environments. Amongst other changes, I am no longer (as stoic) a Scottish nationalist, and I have started pronouncing Paesano correctly (sometimes). As students, we will always encounter people with outrageously different views to our own, and that’s fine. But there’s no need to come out the end of university with the piece of paper and the same prisintely kept set of ideas you came in with. What would be the point?