By Rhys Rushton
Report commissioned by The University of New South Wales into the Viability and Utility of Arts Degrees.
Abstract: This is but one excerpt of an upcoming report into the strange being that is the Arts student. Misunderstood and much maligned, I have decided to let the subjects speak for themselves by merely observing them and collating these observations with information divulged by the students in questionnaires. What follows is one such case from a sample of five hundred students. At this time we recommend further research be conducted into the utility of these students and their use at UNSW.
11am: An Arts student’s day does not begin until eleven o’clock. Fact. Perhaps I’m being generous. It may start even later.
Anyway. Our subject stumbles about their bedsit looking for clothes, all of which are strewn across the floor. They’ve already missed a class, but it doesn’t matter, they tell themselves, because it’s being recorded.
This has never proven conducive to the Arts student catching up on missed material.
A quick glance at the sink and the empty fridge indicates the necessity of a trip to the future employer of most Arts students, McDonalds. Our subject feels slightly dishonest as he takes a bite of his egg McMuffin. Why? He’s currently doing an unpaid internship at Burger King, and is this not aiding the competition? He ponders the moral quandaries of his breakfast choice as he boards the 893.
12pm: He decides to skip his class. What was it? What degree is he even doing? Oh my god! Existential angst seizes him for the fourth time this week and he wonders why he didn’t just stick with Business School.
He paces in the smoking area, hyping himself up to do his first reading of the trimester. It is currently the end of week six.
Yes, a couple of hours in the library and then go to class, a great idea! And then after class go back to the library and study.
Oh the best laid plans…
12.15pm: Our subject sits across from a bearded friend, at the Roundhouse.
Another Arts student, currently on his sixth beer.
They don’t say much, not much needs to be said. It’s the fifth time this week that they’ve met like this. It is Wednesday.
“So did you hear what happened to the Morven Brown?” asks his friend.
“They demolished it.”
Our subject feels the warmth of understanding somewhere in his Toohey’s-numbed consciousness. Ah, it makes sense now, why he hadn’t been able to find the room for his history class.
“Yeah man, they demolished it, last Friday. The Vice-Chancellor took a wrecking ball to it. Sat there smoking a cigar lit from a fifty-dollar bill. The usual stuff. Anyway, we’re having all our classes in the Barker Street car park. Gonna split the different faculties up by floor. And you’ve got to pay the entrance fee for the car park too.”
His friend stroked the ragged hirsute drapery requisite of anyone majoring in philosophy and sighed.
“What about the teachers?”
“Oh, they’ll just work out of their cars, I think they get half price on the parking, which is pretty generous.”
2pm: First stop after any midday session at the Roundhouse? Coffee Cart.
Morven Brown smolders as law students take selfies next to the remains.
Our subject feels a tear begin to crawl out from beneath the crust in his eyes, but he blinks it away. He must’ve looked odd because a girl asks him, “Are you ok?”
Wow. Good work. The first girl to talk to you since that literature class and it’s because you looked like you were having a breakdown.
“Ah yeah thanks I’m all good, just a bit tired, was up late studying.” Blatant lie.
She smiles and nods towards the wreckage, “What do you think about the new building they’re putting up here?”
“Oh, what is it?”
“It’s going to be an oil well. Apparently there’s loads of it beneath the uni. They’re gonna have a refinery as well. And with the whole trimester thing it means that no one can get internships mid-year, so they’re offering positions at the refinery. Pretty cool.”
Our subject puts his eyes back into their sockets and swallows. An engineering student for sure.
3pm: He meanders through the different educational squats that have been erected in the car park, and finds his class. Everyone sits in a placid circle as if it were normal to have a wheel for back support as opposed to a chair.
The lecturer leans against the hood of her car and begins to talk about dialectics or something and then someone asks if that’s like Austrian or something and then the class has to get out of the way of a student doing burnouts.
9pm: Another session of YouTube and Netflix, wonderful. Anathema to productivity though. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow. Get an early night and start fresh. New beginnings and all that, yes. And with that, he turns off the lights and closes his eyes.
9.20pm: “Hey man I know it’s only midweek but me and some of they guys are hitting up the Landsdowne, let me know if you’re free.”
The message promises so little, just circular arguments and VB, but still…he listens to the message a third time.
Rhys is currently recovering from his experiences in ACCT1501. Following the resultant trauma he switched from economics to philosophy and is now is his third year. He enjoys reading and attempting to write. His favourite books are The Ballad of the Sad Café, The Aleph and Other Stories, Culture and Value and Le Grande Meaulnes.