We know students’ unions at universities are quite mad these days. We knew Canterbury’s already are thanks to the Tokyo Tea Rooms farrago when the St George’s Place nightspot was told off by self-described student leaders for the synthesized modern sin of “cultural appropriation”.
Earlier today, the Canterbury Journal exclusively broke the news that the University of Kent’s union had drawn up guidelines designed to hector students on what type of fancy dress they are allowed to wear.
It is an astonishing document. The problem for those of us that enjoy commenting on such things is that it is beyond parody.
It contains all the usual bollocks we’ve come to expect from student unions in the 21st century about “empowering” students in an “inclusive and supportive environment” and warns them not to dress in a way which offends or threatens another student’s “space safe”.
With that, it tells students that they shouldn’t dress as cowboys, vicars and members of Conservative Party.
And it warns them of the consequences should they disobey.
The document stinks of the kind of instructions that a Soviet-style ministry of culture might have laid down to the creative element of its population.
This line is particularly extraordinary: “Students groups are free to engage in fancy dress whilst ensuring they abide by the ‘Fancy Dress Guidelines’ set out below which include being offensive, discriminatory and prejudice [sic]…”
In other words, you’re not free at all and instead are bound by wholly subjectively concocted rules.
These rules reflect the union leaders’ neuroses and anxieties, prejudices and biases about how other students should behave.
Moreover, the rules ban the wearing of Nazi uniforms while in themselves being appallingly fascistic. You can’t, for example, dress as a nun or a priest – or as an Israeli soldier or a Tory.
Have members of the Conservative Party gone into adolescent meltdown at the sight of a student in a cavorting drunkenly in suit and a blue rosette?
The truth is that this particular group of union leaders has no right to appoint itself as a police force enforcing its own rigid code on the behaviour of the rest of the student population.
It has every right, however, to whinge about what it doesn’t like or else explode in hysterics at the sight of a reveller at a party wearing cassocks.
But it must be understood that these student leaders speak for no one but themselves and a contingent of humourless supporters.
Long live the party and long live comedic fancy dress no matter who it annoys.