Corporate peddling, partisan politics and a small, and apparently dangerous, smidgen of student activism

The Skinny | No 4. Freshers’ Week

Curb your freedoms, please...
Curb your freedoms, please...

What are we skinning? Freshers’ Week at the University of Malta, where first-year students are given an introduction to university life through a curious confluence of corporate peddling, partisan politics and a small, and apparently dangerous, smidgen of student activism.

Why are we skinning it? Because time and time again, it proves itself to be a microcosm of Maltese life. Especially this year.

What happened this year? Well for starters, one of the telecommunication companies actually set up a tent that looks like a greenhouse-slash-jungle, and anybody wanting to get to the Library area needed to weave their way through its darkened, stuffy enclave…

Poignant. Like a taster of climate change concerns to come. Yes, sheltered under the dubiously rickety shelter built by just one of the corporate overlords we will be relying on for protection once world governments collapse in a collective heap.

Oh, speaking of the fragile and insecure flailings of centralised power, something else of note happened at this year’s Freshers’ right? Yes: a Moviment Graffitti member was forced to give up their Ian-Borg-on-High-Rise mask to a tetchy security officer.

Ah yes, censorship rearing its ugly head again. I thought its abolition was a cultural keystone of the current administration! To be fair, the University did correct its original mealy-mouthed statement with a stronger-worded one from the rector.

Still, it’s a reminder that the University of Malta was hardly ever a hotbed of abrasive activism. True. Unless you mess with their stipends or parking spaces, of course.  

Do say: “Young students should be eased into university life in a vibrant and joyous display of student community spirit, animated and brought to life with pumping music and the occasional stationery freebie/sugary drink”

Don’t say: “Young students should learn sooner rather than later that corporate entities and the two-party system are all they should be training their attention on once they set about looking for a career post-Uni. It’s too loud to study in the library with that thumping Freshers’ music in the background anyway”.