UoA has no culture. At least, that’s the myth.
With a campus so spread out and a student body so diverse and dispersed, sometimes it feels like the international aisle at Pak’n’Save has more culture to offer than UoA.
This is in stark contrast to other universities in New Zealand. For example, if you’re artsy and your favourite movie is Pulp Fiction, then you probably went to Wellington. If you have a mullet, a Hilux, and smash Diesels on a Wednesday arvo, then you probably went to Dunedin. Meanwhile, it seems like the only attraction that UoA boasts for students is Provost John Morrow announcing two subjects have broken into QS’ Global Top 30.
So what is the student culture at UoA? Where can we find it? Does John Morrow kind of look like Kiwi filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson? To answer two-thirds of these questions, we need to look introspectively, and embrace the common culture we share at UoA.
Many challenges plague the student culture here. The physical separation of students, with many choosing to live at home, means most have limited time to spend on extracurricular activities. Students disappear on a one-hour bus journey home, instead of staying late for a drink with mates.
In COVID times, continual disruptions to in-person learning exacerbate these existing problems. Long gone are the days where you were able to pick out which of your classmates haven’t showered in a week, because they’ve been wearing the same hoodie. Worse still, class gossip has been seriously lacking due to online learning. How else will you know the class couple have broken up if you can’t spy on them walking to class holding hands?
Since culture starts with the student population, it’s hard to label ourselves when our classmates are black grids on Zoom recordings. But just because everything’s hard, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We’re all capable of bringing some culture back to UoA.
In fact, unlikely as it sounds, lockdown brought us glimmers of hope that our student culture is alive and kicking. Seeing our student body unite to shit on Dawn Freshwater’s $5 million dollar mansion purchase evoked more emotion in me than a Coldplay song. There’s nothing like the collective pride of instigating change from the grassroots.
So perhaps, now that students flock back to classes with unkempt hair and the same hoodies they were wearing at the start of lockdown, it’s time to remind ourselves that we are a student body, and we do have culture. It’s just not what everyone expects ‘student culture’ to look like. Sure, we might not have a lot in common, but there are plenty of things we can all unite over. Let’s celebrate our return by lighting up our construction-ridden campus. Have a drink at Shadows (but don’t hit on the Freshers, for the love of god). Take a long, romantic stroll down Symonds Street flexing your newest Stolen Girlfriends Club or Stüssy. Take your sugar daddy for a meal at the campus food court. Get along to your favourite club events. Because above all, UoA is a land of opportunity. We can be anything we want to be.
In the end, we’re 40,000 students suffering from expensive housing, minimal student support, and just general Auckland shittiness. So let’s suffer together.
And while you’re down at Shads, don’t worry about pretending you’re not getting a Shads jug, because that’s the cheapest and you don’t know your drinks. At those club events, don’t worry about being alone, because we’re all just losers trying to avoid our old high-school cliques.
And most of all, don’t feel pressured to hide the fact that you’re as proud as Peter Jackson impersonator, John Morrow, that we’ve got 2 subjects in the top 30. Because the likely reason you’re here is that you’re a smartypants too.
And that’s the real culture at UoA. We’re a bunch of nerds, sorry. I know it, you know it, we all know it. UoA is the University of international clout. We’re the bloody jafas, too good for these provincial folk (just kidding, haha… unless?). But seriously, we belong to a University that prides itself on quality of education. I’ll bet it means that you value education too.
We’ve earnt ourselves the label of UoA nerds, (also known as try-hards, teachers pets and w*nkers) so let’s embrace it. It’s okay—it’s better than being a Vic dropout.