Secret Life of Students
Well, as secret as it can be when a camera is following you around and you are sharing your private messages on screen.
Here are a few things we learned from the first episode of Channel 4’s The Secret Life Of Students (Jul 3rd, 9pm):
1) A fresher must be judged on their number of Facebook friends. While the likes of Josie and Aidan had into the 2000s, Lauren had a ‘meagre’ 499 friends. Awh, poor Lauren.
2) University students play Nazi drinking games! Hahahahahahahhahahahaha. And you have to be a history student to find this offensive (and even more worryingly, Channel 4 felt the need to explain who Anne Frank was…)
3) Protected sex is a thing of the past. Contracted STI’s are quite a funny joke actually. Something to check off the bucket list.
4) Not drinking is weird.
Of course, the above contains four – and believe me, there were more -sweeping generalisations stemming from last night’s first episode. Set in and around the University of Leicester, the four-part documentary hoping to ‘change people’s perceptions’ (according to the sponsorship advert) will follow 12 university first year students as they experience life as a fresher living in halls of residence and starting their degree. The only student of the 12 to live at home is Tanya – a 21 year old single mum (thus I presume that some rhetoric around teenage pregnancy and balancing study will be pushed around but I will happily stand corrected) which, in the age of the extortionate fees, does not go any way to representing that in fact many students are choosing to live at home to save debt.
It is a shame that such generalisations came out of the hour but unsurprising considering the negative stereotypes of students and student culture the media – and the audience – are willing to believe. Media can produce and reproduce these stereotypes, yes, but if such negative labels can be given and stuck by then, in my view, programmes should seek to invert these ‘norms’. Display that not all students are raving alcoholics having unprotected sex and skipping out on 9am lectures. We have such a great chance here to change minds. But, of course, it always seems easier to pander to them.
It really just is not all like that. Joining a society was made to look like something you do to fit in – as in Lauren’s case – but, in fact, joining a society is a massive part of university for many; a chance to take charge, to join in, to meet like-minded people and to have fun. Not to hide from your drunken flatmates.
But next week may be different, right?