Punting and voting: A manifesto

Jack May 23 April 2015

As a wise man once wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Dickens has never been more appropriate than in this, the unhallowed, unnervingly delightful world of examterm in Cambridge.

The sun is out, flowers – carefullytended to and looked after by droves of tireless college staff – are blooming all over the place, and Cambridge is at peak Cambridge. This is Daily Mail season, when impeccably dressed Cantabs line lazy punts with their obnoxious talk of country houses and summers in their Languedoc chateaux amidst a symphony of popping champagne corks. Cambridge in late spring is something of the upper-class Briton’s vision of heaven.

If only it were so. On the ground, students – many already struggling with anxiety and high stress levels – can feel more isolated and pressurised than ever as exams loom. Though they won’t say why, St. John’s College closes its chapel tower.

Students of Cambridge – we face a choice. These are the best days of our lives. Do we want to spend them locked in a manic library with fugged-upwindows and hordes of students poring desperately over dusty tomes in search of the key to Paper IV: Abstraction in Literary Structures of 1940s Drama as midnight strikes? Or do you want to spend them out in the glory of high season in Cambridge, enjoying the freedom and possibility of Cambridge’s paths, rivers, nooks, and crannies?

This newspaper – always an advocate of only the most responsible life choices – heartily recommends the latter. As I’ve said many times before, if it’s a choice between a healthy 2.ii and an unstable first, we’d choose the punt and the sub-60 average mark any day.

So with that in mind: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of ‘15:

Wear sunscreen.

Vote. That’s the other thing that’s going on. You may or may not have heard about the General Election (though you probably have), and you may or may not have heard about our General Election survey (though you probably have, and you can see its intriguing results and analysis thereof on pages 4–6), but it’s happening. If you’re not registered to vote, you’ve missed the deadline, and you’re a fool for ignoring the repeated and incredibly loud calls of everyone ever. If you are; vote. There’s no excuse.