The recent incident in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) got me baffled. I suppose we all think, rather naively, that university today is exactly the same as universities back in the seventies, apart from the fact that students are now carrying iPads. And get hit by their seniors rather less often.
Hell no! Universities today is completely different. There’s very little ragging, and no smoking marijuana behind the motorbike sheds because there’s no time; not when you need to be competent in 7 – 8 courses per semester and plus those pesky compulsory subjects to finish off before graduating – Islamic Civilization, Ethnic Relations and National Studies.
I’m not kidding. I don’t understand any of my debater’s coursework. And what’s more, including the grueling months they’ve gone with the National Service, I bet they know more about nation building, at the age of 21, than most of our politicians did when they whooped the British, Japanese and Communist for the country’s independence.
They say the Prime Minister works hard. A politicians life is a 24-hour job, but his work load is *bluek if compared with the average university students these days.
My debaters comes to training at 8 p.m every Tuesday and Thursday, blurry eyed and drunk from all the pressure. Anymore thinking? Speaking? Light research? Facebook? Forget it.
When I was at university I remember being told that if I could spell Mississippi River on my general entrance exam without looking at the question, I was halfway into getting a degree. Exams were a quick fart in a student’s life; not the be-all and end-all of being a useful person.
Students during my university years were far more creative, risk-takers with a tradition of bad behaviors, bohemian, enterprising, progressive and most importantly had so much fun that leaving university was a painful ordeal.
Look at the recent campus elections. Students from both sides are happy having some politician’s hand up their bottom. This would make me pretty damn miserable -but its not like I’ve had that happened to me before, so I wouldn’t really know. I presume I would be miserable.
But this is not just about having your bottom intruded. I joke often about how, if I were in power, I’d hire professional marksmen to pick off the University Senate members when they arrive in campus for their Wednesday meetings, or is it Thursday?
Anyway, the UPM students last week took the notion of civil disobedience a few giant notches further. They were chanting, “Burn the administrative building down!”
That’s bad, obviously. I know that the building may be sheltering people who could and should be removed, but burning the entire building is just how hard-line terror fanatics operates. And they’re ridiculously stupid.
But here’s what got me all baffled: 17 hours of monkey-chants, broke down the glass door to the main entrance, injured two security officers leaving them with 16 stitches at the process and decided NOT to enter the building. That’s pretty much like having Lara Stone in bed, and you creeping quietly to the barn to have a go with Black Beauty instead. But then again, looking at our political front, you can never really tell people’s preferences anymore.
This is what we all seem to have forgotten. University is a place where you interact with people and improve your social skills. Its a place where you learn to play the guitar, and how to smoke marijuana without getting caught. University is suppose to prepare a person for life, not wear them out for 17 hours with nothing but a stained front.
Students need more quality time besides their education. Yes, we must do everything to give them an education. But we should also do everything we can to make them happy and a sense of independence and originality.