student life

Is ‘banter’ at university more damaging than it appears?

Banter, university, Hannah Parry, Kettle Mag
Written by HannahWrites

University is the step that we, as scholars, take in order to gain opportunities that we’d previously be closed off to. These range from social opportunities, educational opportunities and career prospects that would previously have been out of our reach before we attended higher education. University is an environment that should, on the surface of things, be full of passion and drive. However, the university lecture theatre is rapidly becoming increasingly reminiscent of the school playground, due to seemingly ‘harmless’, yet often quite derogatory banter and stereotyping, that is based predominantly on your desired field of study. 

Is “Banter” damaging

In an economy where it appears to be getting increasingly difficult to get a job as a graduate, is this mocking banter subconsciously putting pressure on potential students to make their choice of degree based upon it’s stereotype? Student’s are quite often faced with large stressful situations, ranging from choosing the right university, making friends during freshers week and making it to lectures on time, to assignment hand ins, living beyond our means and that long-awaited dissertation year. Not only do we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to do well and to please our parents, but pressure is forced upon us by childish and derogatory ridicule. While on the surface the mocking can be passed off as friendly banter, its effects can be extremely detrimental. Student mental health studies show that mental health issues are growing increasingly common, due to the modern day stresses that the student body faces. While innocent banter may at the time seem friendly and jovial, it’s very easy to forget that words can often have many different meanings to different people. 

Throughout my full three years at university, I’ve experienced a number of different derogatory comments about my English Literature degree, including generalisations that I’m lazy, based around my smaller timetable and fewer contact hours, and that my work isn’t ‘real’, it’s just embellished book reviews and reading. Reminiscent of the childhood spitefulness that once laced school playgrounds, this banter has largely become the norm in universities all around the UK, and while these generalized and quick comments, at the time, seem amusing and entertaining, they quickly lead to annoyance, anger and unnecessary, unwanted pressure. 

Most desirable degrees

The Telegraph published that the most desirable degrees to have for employers were the sciences and education, leaving humanities, business and architecture at the lower end.  However, every single degree has its own merit, and we choose our degree based on what we love and what we want to pursue in the future. However, with this constant pressure from not only potential employees, but also other students, the workload and stress factor for students is ever growing. 

As students we’re supposed to share the same passion, love and desire to learn and to be educated. We know how it feels to be excited about a cause – so why then, do we feel the need to stereotype (often negatively) other people’s academic interest? We’re all in the same situation, every single one of us will be grasping at whatever job opportunities come our way after the long-awaited graduation. So how about we all play a little nicer, treat each other a little better, and relieve that pressure that we all carry on our shoulders.