Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Dr Alfred Sant's University Debate
Earlier on this week, there was a debate between the four main political leaders at the University of Malta. Based on the excerpts I watched on TV, the meeting included a relatively large number of PN supporters who frequently tried to turn the debate into a pro-Dr Gonzi meeting!
I also listened to the views of many University students as they were interviewed about the proposals of the different parties. The comments of most of the students were clearly an echo of the rhetoric that they had internalised after listening to the same phrases and cliches over and over again! There was no profound analysis of certain issues by none of the students who were interviewed. As a former university student, this did not surprise me so much.
Whereas in many other universities around the world, university students are expected to be discussing and mobilising in favour of several changes in society, most Maltese university students are extremely indifferent in respect of whatever is happening beyond the narrow confines of their daily lives. Many are simply interested in hanging out at parties, flirting, writing assignments, and cramming for exams. The few students who join an organisation usually do so to make their CVs stand out when they start looking for jobs.
On the basis of my experience during my four years at university, most students who attend the latter institution live like princes. Given that the majority of the students are teenagers or individuals in their early 20s, most of them still live with their families. Many students are given generous handouts by their parents to live comfortably and are exempt from paying bills or rent. When a person is enjoying such a lifestyle, it is quite easy to believe that the country is doing great! Furthermore, the widespread apathy that can be witnessed when talking to several university students makes it easy to understand how so many of them just repeat what various politicians say like parrots. Not even one student said anything about the hardships that many immigrants undergo here in Malta. Not even one student uttered a word about the many gay couples in Malta who feel that they are treated as second-class citizens by the government when talking about certain rights.
Of course, not all university students are indifferent and fairly detached from the hardships that come with a normal working life as a wage slave. There is a considerable number of students who are strongly aware of the economic problems affecting hundreds of Maltese families and would like to do something about it. Sadly, one does not get to see such students so often. We are normally more exposed to the students who still live in a dreamworld in which regurgitating Dr Gonzi's political discourse is deemed as sufficient for them to believe that Malta is slowly turning into a paradise!