Obsessing over privilege stops students from getting their house in order


If you do not think exams should be cancelled, you are blinded by privilege. Clearly, having stable internet access, living in a time-zone reasonably close to GMT, and not sharing your home with disruptive people has blinded you to the obvious truth that any form of examination is a gross injustice.

If you think exams should be cancelled, you are blinded by privilege. Clearly, having stable enough mental-health, such that your wellbeing isn’t dependent on exams going ahead, has blinded you to the obvious truth that cancelling exams is only an option if you are privileged.

It seems that no matter what you say about examinations, in someone’s eyes, you are betraying privilege. A brief scroll through Camfess makes this abundantly clear. Almost every post about exams has been argued in terms of privilege and consequently, every post seems to take the position that any and all disagreement is a gross attack on some section of the student community.

This is a shame. At base level, many of these posts raise valid points. They deserve to be considered against one another, and weighed up in any final decision. It is incredibly important that our exams do not unfairly disadvantage students based on their background. It is also important that students’ wellbeing is understood and that those students who need concrete goals for their wellbeing are given some. This is partly why it seems such a shame that the points are couched in terms of privilege, and not simply stated as the valid points that they are: considerations about fairness, or about student wellbeing.

Instead, they are construed in the language of privilege. It is understandable why. If you made a point without using this word, it would be open for rebuttal. Someone could validly disagree with you, and you would have to hear their ideas out for what they are worth. Similarly, you would have to endure the process of your claim being balanced against others. Invoking privilege makes the playing-field clear: you are morally right, always. The privileged, however you choose to demarcate them, are morally wrong, by definition. And the argument is always to be conducted in moral terms. The privileged, you see, cannot be mistaken. They can only be evil, or wilfully ignorant, which is itself a kind of evil.

Ultimately, the left-wing obsession with privilege is what is preventing students from getting their house in order. No one can compromise, and no one can listen. Such is the nature of argument when your opponents are privileged. Indeed, perhaps soon we will stop talking altogether; recently, a petition created by medics to change their exam arrangements was sabotaged. In an exemplary display of underhandedness, people signed the petition using obviously made-up names, to make the petition appear faked. No doubt, the perpetrators felt completely justified. The makers of the petition were not mistaken, and to be reasoned with; they were privileged, and no longer worthy of such respect.

The various student groups in Cambridge have a wide range of needs, all of which are valid, and deserving of consideration. The situation screams for some sort of objective metric against which different claims can be balanced. I have suggested fairness, or student wellbeing as examples. Clearly, privilege is not up to the task. It’s usage amongst students signifies the end of conversation, the end of compromise, and tragically, the end of progress to a better solution for us all.

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