Tom Shore – Renaissance Man, wanted war criminal, and former co-editor of this august
publication – winced when I told him that I intended my final article to be a reflection
on three years of Royal Holloway. He correctly predicted that, having taken every
opportunity to slam the university throughout the year, I would devote my last words
towards the ultimate castigation of the establishment. And indeed he was right, as at the
time I intended to do just that. Sadly however, looking back at the times I’ve had during
my tour of duty, I am prevented from giving the old place too rough a ride.
One of the first criticisms I heard when I arrived was that Holloway was too out-of-the-
way. A handful of pubs and restaurants were all the towns of Egham and Englefield
Green provided in terms of entertainment. Students inclined towards intensive partying
lamented the need to commute to neighbouring Windsor (or Staines if you’re not fussy
about the smell), or indeed to go the whole hog and mission it to London, having either to
catch the annoyingly early last train or do an all-nighter and wander the streets in search
of shelter for three hours before Waterloo opens. True, Holloway is a tad isolated. But
you knew that before you got here, unless of course it was your safety net during uni
applications and you never intended to come (that’s right Oxbridge rejects, I’m laughing
at you). Besides which, not many universities offer that unique backwater quirk of
Holloway’s in which you are guaranteed to bump into people you know as soon as you
step outside. So back off.
Of course, some frustrations need to be addressed; the fact that all university brochures
feature Founder’s building but neglect to include the architectural nightmare
which constitutes the rest of campus for one. Then, of course, there’s the archetypal
Hollowegian. Although likely as not they’re a minority, shit sticks nonetheless, and
Royal Holloway has unintentionally cultivated the image of being an enclave of Jack
Wills-flaunting, blue-blooded nobbers. Girls with names like Daphne and Xenobia patrol
the dance floor of the SU in search of some tanked rugger bugger who’ll use them like
a piece of meat and then move on to a fresher model at the earliest opportunity. Why?
Because they can that’s why.
And now, finally, we arrive at the ultimate Royal Holloway tumour; the Student’s Union.
Ah, the SU! That fine body of men and women elected and appointed to cater to the
needs of the student body, and that dire building they’re proud to call their own. The SU
has been, to be frank, a fixed point in a changing world, as it has consistently offered
itself to all and sundry as a source of puzzlement, frustration and hostility, never flinching
from strict adherence to the SU mission statement ‘to set a low standard and fail to
maintain it’. The gang of careerists who compete for admin jobs are usually drawn from
the biological subcategory of humanity known as Cuntus Mediocritus, dedicated towards
the improvement of their C.V.s and the neglect of their duties. But I digress.
The point of this article is not to lambaste the university, although I couldn’t resist a few
parting shots. The point is that actually, minutia aside, this has been a pretty great three
years. I cannot help but say that Royal Holloway College is a rather awesome place.
Campus life is rich with a pluralism which the cliques of school and conformity of the
workplace are unable to provide. Never again will we find ourselves in an environment
in which nobody is better than anybody else, and where the person you chose to be
is acceptable at face value. Tolerance abounds, its warm embrace permeating from
Founder’s quad and Crosslands through to every society or event, no matter how big or
small, popular or culty.
For me Holloway has offered lifelong friendships, great laughs, and the odd heartbreak.
If I had my time over, I wouldn’t change a thing. Screw you Establishment!