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This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

John Clifford: Time to go

Jun 21 2002 15:25
John Clifford
Four years and 1500 cups of coffee later, I?m out of here. About time too?
Clearing out the junk...

In Jerusalem, there are pilgrims who walk miles on their shredded knees in order to atone for their past and future sins. I chose Imperial College, which presumably means I can burn down at least three orphanages. Seriously though, apart from the occasional visit, it?s my last day at Imperial, and I approach it more with a sense of relief than celebration. I?m going to miss evenings chain-smoking in the union, just as I?m going to miss the excitement that comes from picking up Felix on a midweek afternoon (ahem). But four years is really long enough, and I really don?t want to be the kind of person who describes college as the best decade of his life, and so it?s time to go.

So what does the future hold? For Imperial, I?m strangely optimistic. For a start, the soulless industrial estate look is really in this season. And secondly, the much-needed changes are actually starting to happen. I was really cynical about choosing a businessman as the next Rector, and yet from recent interviews it looks like they got the right guy. Obviously it?s going to be up to people like yourselves to watch everything he does very closely indeed, but it really looks like he cares about what Imperial stands for. It may not be exactly my scene, but the emphasis on academic excellence is Imperial?s defining characteristic, and I?m reassured by the fact that he realises that student welfare and decent accommodation come into the equation. However, there?s a huge gap between word and deed, and I?m not sure how selling Clayponds and Garden Hall fit into that. But he?s making the right noises, and something tells me he?s not in the habit of failing. But do rising entry requirements mean that the social life in College will evaporate within five years? I hope not.

And no, despite sucking up to the Rector I?m not looking for a job, and so I turn to my department. Physics achieved the unique feat of making the extraordinary boring. It?s almost as if the need to hold our attention and make the subject interesting disappeared the minute we filled in the UCAS form. Lecturers don?t feel the need to make it interesting, and most students feel they?re only there to endure it. That?s sad, learning shouldn?t be a chore, and I don?t know if it?s like that in other departments, but I doubt if many people who really hated lessons made it to Imperial, so something?s clearly gone very wrong. I read once about the Concorde Fallacy, a term biologists use to describe scenarios such as raising a chick where the parents don?t know whether to carry on investing resources or cut their losses. I?m convinced that describes why a lot of people are here, bound by the philosophy of ?I?ve already done two years, might as well stick it out?. Which is also quite sad, but at least remember they built the plane in the end.

I?m going to miss the Union the most. For all its flaws, it?s got a lot of nice people who actually care. And Felix is a great idea, but it?s a shame it never really fulfils its potential. There?s a few things I wish I?d done while in charge, but for all that I really enjoyed being a part of it. For a lot of people Felix is the only source of news about things that really affect them, and Editors (me included) sometimes lose sight of the fact that we?re not doing a job, we?re providing a service.

I?ve got the same parting advice for Live as for Felix- keep asking questions. Some of them will be the right questions, and rather than scoring cheap points against people you might even make a difference. And Dave, you can't blame Guilds for mocking you anymore than you can blame the wind for blowing. Get over it, really.

As for me, I really want to write a novel. However, I also want to be able to eat, but hopefully I?ll manage both. There?s too many of you to say goodbye to individually, hence this final self-indulgence, but it?s been nice knowing you all (really). Good luck, do good, see you around.

John

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Discussion about “John Clifford: Time to go”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Jun 21 2002 16:51
 

There's a Gaurdian column in you yet!

2. idris   
Jun 23 2002 02:21
 

Hey John

You could have made it a bit more positive; some of us have got several more years to go on our sentences yet.

Only 1500 cups? Is that normal?

3. John   
Jun 23 2002 12:49
 

...only developed a habit in the second year! That's about 1 or 2 (Grande size) cups a day, which sounds about right.

Haven't been paroled yet Idris? Turns out I've got another 3 days of my course left- *next* June :(

Jun 24 2002 17:46
 

Oh dear! Well, good luck with them.

Hey... does this mean your'e eligible to stand for election to London Student Editor again?

5. idris   
Jun 24 2002 19:42
 

Here's a theory:

Maybe the stress of knowing we've got longer sentences makes medics drink more coffee per unit time. Discuss...

Jun 24 2002 19:47
 

Well, I don't drink any coffee (or tea, redbull, any other form of caffineated drink - other than the odd can of Pepsi about 4 times a year).

So, I find it difficult to discuss the matter.

7. idris   
Jun 26 2002 23:51
 

What's this about the social life at IC evaporating? Wouldn't it have to exist first?

Jun 27 2002 12:56
 

Depends. Could be a figure of speech.

Closed This discussion is closed.

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