Five student tribes you'll find at any college and university

The Politico, The Hack, The Thesp, The Campaigner and The Drop-Out

The clubs you join and the folk you start hanging around with in freshers’ week can end up shaping your best undergrad memories, and even defining your post-graduation career. We spoke to some loyal tribe members about how they’re spending their four years of study – and why you should join them. Choose wisely …

The Thesp

The Thesp

The best thing about being part of student theatre is the euphoria of achieving something at the end of a production, being one component of a team that has successfully entertained people. The aftershow parties are definitely a testament to that.

I think the stereotype of student theatre is pretentious, self-absorbed Thespians with a capital T: you’ll get one or two, but the majority are just normal people that sometimes like theatre. Student Theatre at Glasgow (STaG) is the most diverse group of people I have ever met. Absolutely anybody can get involved in STaG and that’s what we’re immensely proud of – oh, that sounds a bit Glee, doesn’t it? We’re not that glee. Yes you will get actors that are desperate to get that part, or the stereotypical-looking lighting guy in a hoodie and baggy jeans, but at the end of the day I don’t think there is a stock type. That’s part of our charm.

How would you recognise an actor in the street? If it’s show week then coffee, Pro Plus and Berocca are usually tell-tale signs. Often they’ll carry a lot of props or posters. Perhaps the groups of people that are a little bit too animated and hand gesturey about the most mundane events contain actors.

STaG are pretty darn social. I definitely didn’t drink red wine or gin until I came here. Gin is most certainly our drink; and as much as we probably should be learning lines all the time, I’ve yet to see a lot of it, much to our director’s despair.

I found my grades rose significantly the busier I got. Ultimately, student theatre has formed my university experience, possibly because I’ve spent so much time doing it, but secondly I have had actually the best time doing it.

Student theatre can give a core to your university experience, as we all work hard and play hard as one of those big, theatrical, often incestuous families. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sinead Linsley is Vice President of Student Theatre at Glasgow (STaG)

The Campaigner

The Campaigner

I’ve always been interested in human rights and starting university seemed like the perfect time to be more active. I was really impressed by the Glasgow University Amnesty group when I joined; it was friendly and welcoming and seemed to really achieve things. I felt like it was somewhere I could make friends and have a great time while also making a real difference to the world.

For me, the best thing about it is that sometimes you can be a part of history being made. A lot of campaign work doesn’t seem to reach a conclusion as the goals are so big, and your contribution can seem so small. But over the last year alone we can point to areas where human rights campaigners have brought about change – for example, Maryland abolished the death penalty in May and the UN adopted the Arms Trade Treaty in April. Both of these are areas in which campaigners from across the world, including students in our Amnesty group, have worked tirelessly on.

I’m not sure there is a typical ‘Amnesty’ student and we certainly don’t all fit the stereotype of tree-hugging do-gooders (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). We have socials and some of us definitely like to party, but we also offer a space for people who prefer a quieter time.

Clichéd as it may sound, Amnesty really is open to all types of students; all that we ask is that you support human rights and want to work to ensure their protection in all contexts. My involvement with Amnesty has not just improved my university experience but really made it. From friendships formed over letter writing to travel opportunities for lobbying events in London and Edinburgh, many of my favourite university memories wouldn’t have been possible without Amnesty.

My involvement has also helped me decide what I want to do after I graduate next year. So, if you’re like me, arriving at university wide-eyed and enthusiastic but with no real idea of what will await you after the four years of lectures, exams and nights out, I couldn’t recommend joining a society (psst, join Amnesty!) more strongly.

Debbie White is Secretary of Glasgow University Amnesty.

The Drop-out

The Drop-out

So, guys, this is awkward. At the moment you’ve got high hopes, good intentions and the unquenchable thirst to learn. But what happens if it doesn’t work out? The parties, the stress, the feeling of, ‘Why did I take this course, I don’t even want to be a scientist, I just want to make collages and listen to dubstep’. Sometimes studying doesn’t work out. Don’t be disheartened.

Simon Cowell never even got to university yet he’s got enough money now to control and warp people’s minds. Oprah Winfrey also never got to wear the mortar board and she controls a nation. In a sweet way. Probably.

And Richard Branson. Have you heard of him? He’s doing pretty well hanging out with Usain Bolt and trying to commercialise going to space. He dropped out of school at the tender age of 16. Not bad for a man who looks like a shrunken Hulk Hogan.

Mark Zuckerberg has been an accomplice in thousands of stalkings worldwide. Want to see your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s Christmas party? You have a drop-out to thank for that. A very, very rich drop-out.

Other technology magnates who never graduated include Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Matt Mullenweg who founded WordPress, where we all started writing our personal memoirs that nobody really cares about.

Coco Chanel didn’t need to get the grades to be queen of the business suit. She dreamt of becoming a cabaret singer, so if you feel bad about your own successes, remember she must’ve failed at that. And Brad Pitt dropped out of his journalism degree just two weeks before completion. Let’s be fair, he probably thought that with his face he was always going to be on the other side of interviews.

Alice White writes a monthly column at The List

The Politico

The Politico

‘I was keen to become more politically active,’ says Edinburgh University student Rachel Blair of her reasons for becoming involved with SNP Students. ‘Being able to meet new people and make friends at the same time as campaigning for things you truly feel passionate about is wonderful. My experience has provided me with opportunities to meet students studying all over Scotland.’ Rachel believes the benefits are not just social. ‘Being involved can allow you to become more confident which can be helpful in academic work.’

Declan Lyons of Edinburgh University Conservative and Unionist Association also finds it ‘a brilliant way to meet new and interesting people who I probably otherwise wouldn’t have met. It’s also a great way to hone public speaking skill and get better at debating. I’m looking forward to the next year as we’ll be getting more involved in issues surrounding the Independence Referendum. There’ll be a lot of Edinburgh University students who have yet to decide which way they’re going to vote and so EUCUA undoubtedly has a role to play.’

Rachel Blair is SNP Students Equalities Officer. Declan Lyons is Chair of Edinburgh University Conservative and Unionist Association.

The Hack

The Hack

‘There’s nothing like letting your hair down once you’ve sent your final edition to the printers,’ says Claire Diamond, who co-edits the Glasgow Guardian student newspaper with Louise Wilson. For Louise, it’s all about ‘ruffling a few feathers when we’re breaking a story that someone doesn’t want out there.’

‘There’s a very strong sense of community in the newsroom,’ according to Claire. ‘We genuinely are all in it together, because sometimes you have to write things not everyone likes and it’s reassuring to know that your friends have your back. It’s definitely not helped my studies … I’ve missed so many classes because I’ve been after the scoop.’

‘Actually, last year I think I spent more time working on the paper than I did on my degree!’ says Louise. ‘But I think I’ve hit a reasonable balance now. I manage to get my stuff in on time, and actually the paper adds an extra bit of pressure onto my studies and I work far better when I have a full plate … I couldn’t imagine university life without it.’

Claire Diamond and Louise Wilson edit the Glasgow Guardian.

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