These events logically precipitate a debate around the balance between talking openly about the real experiences of those in Oxford, and how we make sure that people are not put off applying to Oxford. Except that isn’t, for the most part, what is being debated. Instead we have once again dropped into the easy option of cheap shots being fired on Facebook, and suggestions that people should check their privilege. The questions about why people have set up certain Tumblrs and whether they are misguided are shadowing the actual and very necessary debate that will affect the lives of students for decades to come.
But what happens now? How are the issues that have been raised going to be solved? How will the valid points that both sides raised be balanced and addressed? We may never know. While both Tumblrs have done a great job in raising awareness, this is almost pointless without a follow up of action on all sides. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that social media has paralysed us, with people feeling that a ‘like’ or ‘retweet’ is enough for one of these blogs. They get a warm, fuzzy feeling that they have very publically supported these important campaigns – and no real action happens.
Cue obligatory mention of the student union. I hear that people are starting to question what OUSU Council is for, and what the point in these meetings is. The answer is simple: to address precisely the issues that have been raised above. Now I realise that we haven’t had chance for an OUSU Council since this has been raised, but I doubt anyone was thinking of bringing the debate.
The issues raised above affect all under-represented groups on Oxford. It’s about how we, as a student body, address the experiences of students and build a better Oxford, whilst at the same time making sure that those negatives about Oxford which are myths are not allowed to permeate, and that no young person of ability is put of applying.
This is going to be a complex and at times, a difficult debate to have, but we owe it to the students of tomorrow to get together and talk. But we need to do the debate properly. Facebook has killed OUSU Council. While it is easy to crowd source opinion on social media, no tweet or comment can do these issues justice. People feel they have said their piece on the topic, but no resolution is brought forward.
Council is the place to come together, to discuss, but more importantly to agree on a way forward, facilitated by the resources of our Student Union. Facebook has stirred up many opinions, but I have yet to see answers. Council has always been facts, opinion, RESOLUTION.
I will no doubt be lambasted for making this post. For poking my privileged nose into something that isn’t my business. But it is my business. I don’t want to be part of a University where the things highlighted by I Too Am Oxford happen. But I also don’t want to be part of an Institution where people are put of applying, as raised by We Are All Oxford. The difficult first steps have now been taken, but we can’t stop. Let’s have the debate, bring forward the solutions, and harness this wave of social media debate into tangible actions and results.