By the time you’re reading this it’s probably halfway through the week (30th January – 3rd February 2017), and while you mightn’t get to any of the events that we have planned for the week, I wanted to write a bit about why there is week, and the state of the Bachelor of Arts in general, because it is a conversation we don’t have. If anyone read my manifesto back in March last year, the shortest point I made on the whole thing was about holding an Arts Week, and strangely enough that will be the most definitive thing I’ve done all year. I came to the idea after what was a mediocre first year in UCC Arts for myself, and it wasn’t anything to do with the content of my education, but two simple things that a lot of Arts students go through: the isolation of the course, and how meaningless it can feel to be doing a BA at times (I’m starting on an awful downer, aren’t I?)
CK101 Arts or CK108 International Arts are different from every other course in UCC due to the fact of sheer size. I remember going into an in-class exam last year in Sociology in Boole 4, where every seat was filled, the stage was filled, and there still wasn’t room for a number of students to do the exam so they had to sit it at a different time – I don’t think you’ll find a scenario with this many students elsewhere in the college. The issue with this is for many they come into this course knowing no one, and trying to make a friend in a sea of students is difficult, to say the least. I found that what it means to be a UCC student, or a university student generally, doesn’t hit you till late October. And sitting in a Boole with only blank faces around you is the loneliest I have ever felt in my life. (I am getting somewhere with this, so hold tight!). Societies, Clubs, and the Students’ Union saved me from the question of dropping out, but I feel like many mightn’t have the same luxury.
The biggest gripe I think I had last year is the whole concept of the BA being a lesser degree than everything else. I was sitting in a linear algebra module last year, and I was left stumped as to why people think I can’t change a lightbulb, and how my destiny lies in the making of chips down in McDonald’s. This atmosphere is a societal thing, and while it’s something I can’t change, trying to make a dent at it is the best thing I can do. Since I started the position of CACSSS Rep back in July, I have had to deal with people who do feel worthless just because they will be leaving University with BA at the start of their degree. I know (mainly because I’ve had a meeting with them) that the career services would tell you the opposite, and for anyone who feels this way I would highly recommend them.
It’s been pretty negative up until this point, and that leads me to why I decided to push the Students’ Union to help me organise an Arts Week this year. This week is my attempt to show BA students and the University that there is a lot to be celebrated about us. I know everyone is going to look at the week and just see Arts Ball, but I have scheduled stuff around it that should interest a wide variety of students out there. I’ve a speaker series organised for Monday at 2pm (yeah yesterday), Tuesday at 2pm, and Thursday at 1pm – Dr. Neil Buttimer is speaking on the BA within UCC, and how’s it been for him as a student to a lecturer, and he will mention a heritage- orientated work programme he was involved with trying to set up years ago. On the Tuesday (so if you’re reading this, like, just as this issue rushed onto campus, you might have a chance to make it), the UCC Careers Services will be doing some myth busting in relation to assumptions about the BA, and they’ll also being talking the future after your BA.
If you want to see any of the other events on this week, and figure out the details of the comedy gig on Wednesday evening, take a look at the Facebook event, which has the timetable, or else email me on firstname.lastname@example.org – I hope there’s something of interest there for you! This week was set up to help students, and if it helps even one person out there, I’ll be happy. I’ll be at all of the events hopefully, so feel free to stop me for a chat if you want. Enjoy the week!