Editorial – Easter Issue 2 May Week 2011

Michael Yoganayagam 28 June 2011

The end of another year has arrived, and while students jubilantly unleash the pent up stress from exam term this week, May Week has also been greeted with the customary disapproval of some elements of the national press. Certain national papers are quick to cite the decadence and indulgence of May Week as symbols of the University’s reputation of privilege and elitism, as well to scorn the images of drunken students stumbling out of balls at 6am.

While these may seem valid points of criticism in an “age of austerity”, they fail to acknowledge not only the hard work that Cambridge students have put in during what is a very stressful term, but also the fact that, apart perhaps from the black tie, drunken behaviour here is no different to that of any other university in the country at other times of the year.

Events such as Caesarian Sunday and Suicide Sunday are particular points of disapproval, but do these days really deserve greater criticism than the binge-drinking culture prevalent in many of the UK’s University cities?

While Cambridge students should be aware of the way in which our behaviour is perceived as both elitist and decadent, they should also not be made to feel guilty for enjoying this welcome relief after seven highly pressured weeks. Therefore, TCS would like to celebrate Cambridge students’ hard work and commitment in both the exam process and, indeed, the organisation of these huge May Week events.

In other news, the closing of nominations for the University Chancellorship this week has produced an interesting list of candidates. Local grocer Abdul Arain’s decision to stand against Lord Sainsbury not only represents a break from the 61 years since an uncontested election, but also the story of the local underdog against the might of the institution. 

Next year, will students see the Senate choose either the establishment’s favourite, Lord Sainsbury, or the humble shopkeeper? Will they instead back the alumni’s choice of the larger-than-life actor Brian Blessed, or plump for the controversial lawyer Michael Mansfield, who is the favourite of some academics? It seems that the fairly inconsequential role of Chancellor could provide an unexpectedly interesting contest to start the next academic year.

And so, as we reach the end of Cambridge’s 802nd year, we would like to wish everybody a very happy end of May Week and a safe and enjoyable summer holiday. See you in Michaelmas!

Michael Yoganayagam