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!

7 comments:

Andre said...

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 job

Hehe, personally I find such a description slightly insulting. I know it's a generic description - but there are a number of students who do not fit in such a description. I hang out at parties, flirt, do my assignments and study for my exams. And I have joined organisations (not for my CV - although let's face it - it's a plus). But I don't feel indifferent. In fact I've experienced some problems first hand (I won't elaborate here) and I know many others who experience such problems first hand.

Andre said...

I just re-read my comment and I might have been a bit harsh; there are some aspects of what you said which I find to be slightly insulting, however I think most people in Malta - not just University students - rarely see the bigger picture and are just concerned with their immediate surroundings.

However one has to question whether or not "selfishness" is part of human nature. There are several sociologists who argue that even altruistic individuals are subconsciously satisfying a personal need.

Infonote said...

IMHO, this happens everywhere.

Go and interview students around the world. The result will probably be the same.

Glenn Gerald said...

Il-veru edukazzjoni ma tiksibiex ghax tidhol l-universita, u dan rajnieh nhar it-Tnejn li ghadda! Fl-universita tispeccjalizza fuq suggett partikolari, biss il-veru edukazzjoni ta' kif iggib ruhek ma ta' madwarek ma tiksibiex minn xi suggett partikolari. Jiena personalment nemmen u nispera li dawk ta' nhar it-Tnejn kienu minoranza, nemmen li hafna mill-istudenti huma nies edukati w li jafu jiddiskutu.

Andre said...

Ma ninsewx ukoll li kien hemm daqxejn ghajnuna mil-group strategiku ta partit partikolari li ra kif ghamel u gab studenti mil Junior College - filfatt hafna min dawk li kienu qed jaghmlu l-istorbju kienu mil-Junior College.

Jien li jinkwetani, meta nara affarijiet bhal dawn, hu li jizdied l-ammont ta intimidazjoni li jaf ikun hemm lejn supporters ta l-MLP.

Hehe issa mhux biex naghmel riklam, imma generalment insib li studenti li jxaqilbu lejn l-MLP huma inqas dogmatici, iktar tolleranti u jafu jiddiskutu ferm iktar... pero nahseb li hemm iktar tolleranza u dak id-dibattitu kien misleading.

Red said...

Thanks everyone for the feedback! :)

There is a difference between describing and insulting. I am confident that there are many university students who have a sociopolitical consciousness and are genuinely interested in doing something to improve the country (if not the world!). Having said this, I still think that most Maltese university students are living in a bubble which insulates them from the crude reality of living as a wage slave. Perhaps such a situation will change in the future, but I think that I am describing the current state of affairs there.

I do believe that selfishness is a part of human nature. Yet, I have always split human beings into two types - the egoist-egoist category and the egoist-altruist one. A capitalist would fall into the former division given that he/she is almost totally obsessed with becoming richer at the expense of the rest of society while a true socialist would care about others knowing full well that one can never enjoy lasting peace unless we can ensure that all people live comfortably.

Going back to the university debate, I believe that whoever organised it had the duty to control certain elements of the crowd.

Andre said...

When the description isn't quite so real it does get insulting :)

I still think that most Maltese university students are living in a bubble which insulates them from the crude reality of living as a wage slave

You're forgetting that most university students are living that reality. The majority of people I know get paid next to nothing for jobs such as waiting on people and have virtually no rights whatsoever. I know of a couple who worked for a hotel who made them sign a contract whereby they sign any right they might have to a bonus, leave etc. So I think you're incorrect there - most students are living that reality.

I believe that whoever organised it had the duty to control certain elements of the crowd.

I agree with you - although I don't know how that could have been done.

It's a shame since it could have been a positive event.