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.