Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strikes and Chinese Food

There was a strike today at my uni. I don't actually know too much about it, but the leaflet that was shoved into my hands reads (briefly) as follows:

"Academic and academic-related staff who are members of UCU will be striking... to demand the right to a fair pension. As a part of the wider destructive measures being taken against Higher Education, university staff are under attack on all fronts: from cuts to jobs, pay, and now an attack on our pensions... We were left with no option but to go on strike."

Obviously, instructors need things like salaries and pensions and things like that, and I completely understand that they felt the need to strike. But the problem today was that they were picketing outside the front of the school- a prime spot for picketing, but it's also where the entrance to the Arts building is, and that's where my class is held.

So I was walking up the ramp into the building around 8:50 this morning when one of the teachers (I assume) jumped in front of me. "Where are you going?" he demanded. "Uh... to class," I responded, thinking that it was pretty obvious. "Which class?" he asked. I answered, "Adaptations." "Oh." It was clear that he had no idea what class this was, so I added (nicely), "It's a theatre class." A look of complete disgust came over his face as he said, "Well, o-kay." He then handed me a stack of leaflets and cards to give out to anyone I saw.

I didn't really know what the strike was about at that point, but I later learned that the disgusted look on his face probably (hopefully) did not come from a dislike of the art form, but from disappointment that my teacher was teaching. But I got off easy. One of my groupmates came into class and said that she got almost yelled at for trying to go to class. The person who stopped her said, "If you go in there, you don't care about your teachers.You're supporting this." She answered that no, she didn't support what they were fighting against, she just had a show to perform in a week and she was going to class.

This was the problem: obviously, if the teachers are striking, they're not teaching. They're also encouraging students to boycott classes. This is a fine thing to do if you're, well, any other kind of student except for a drama student. It wouldn't really hurt me to miss the next two sessions of my history or RT classes because they're just lectures, and if the teachers aren't teaching, of course, I wouldn't miss anything. But at least 80%, maybe 100%, of the drama students have very important performances to do next week, which means that this week is imperative. There cannot be any skipping of class. We were teching today, and it's hard enough to get the theatre space as it is; even if we wanted to skip class, there's no way we could if we cared about our marks.
I understand that the teachers want us to support them, but they also need to realise that, literally, the show must go on for some students. I suppose they were more disappointed that our teacher was teaching instead of picketing than they were at the idea of us going to class, but this was also them making an assumption. Our teacher didn't teach us today. She did come in and say hi and tell us some good news, but we didn't require her help today, as our projects are completely student-run. So she was out there picketing with her fellows- they just didn't bother to find that out.

Anyway, tech went well- I think our piece is going to be really good. I also got out of being on the crew of the other group's performance using a combination of self-deprecation and gaze aversion. We got out of class at two, starving because we hadn't had a tea break, and four out of the five of us hopped on the tube to Camden Markets. Heidi wanted to show us this Chinese buffet that she said was really good, and she was right (they have a chocolate fountain and don't cover their chicken in sauce. WINNER.) We had a lovely afternoon of overeating and ducking into the many cool shops on the street. It's been nice to hang out with some different friends- most of the people I generally hang out with are on different schedules (I haven't seen Laura in weeks, though we've chatted on Facebook), and right now we're all barricaded in our rooms except for classes, so it's cool that there are some nice people on the same schedule as I am to spend some time with.

A funny thing about accents- I hardly notice the accents around me anymore. Sometimes it dawns on me again that the person I'm listening to has an accent that I love, but it's really become quite normal to my ears now. This means that I also forget that I sound different to them, and even more so. While I don't notice their accents mostly because I'm surrounded by them all the time, they notice mine more because I'm the minority. I re-realised how funny my pronunciation must sound to them this afternoon when the same group was browsing in a shop. The four of us were looking at some clothes, and I pulled one out and said, "Oh, is this a romper?" "Haha, romperrrr," Heidi laughed, exaggerating my rhotic 'r.' At first, I thought she was amused because I had used an American term (she caught my use of "sweater" the other week instead of "jumper"), but then I realised that it was just the way I said it. It's weird but very interesting when these kinds of things happen. Sometimes it's easy to forget how different things like that must seem until they're pointed out.


Captain Stennous said...

"Haha, romperrrr," Heidi lauged, exaggerating my rhotic 'r.'
Sounds like an excerpt from a story. And I think it's totally awesome that you so non-chalantly referred to your American accent with appropriate phonetic terminology. :)

Rachel said...

I figured you would notice how that was written :p

I'm glad you appreciate my use of terminology. I actually only recently learned about rhotic rs when I was working on some IPA (which I'm posting about today when talkig about an audtion experience)- I didn't learn about them in my Linguistics class or in my two years of Voice and Speech. I don't know if anyone else will know what a rhotic r is, but at least on person does!

Rachel said...

Gah- *talking, one. Freaking keyboard :(

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