Exeter, Devon UK • May 27, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment 3 mins

3 mins

Maddie Conlan writes on the recent dead deer on campus controversy reflecting that, it may be no surprise that the dead deer is linked the Conservative Society.
5 mins read
Written by
Image: MariFka, Wikimedia commons

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes references to animal cruelty which some readers may find distressing.

The first time I heard about a headless deer being carried through campus I thought it was a joke. Just another meme that someone on Overheard had made up to play into the ‘Exetahh’ stereotype that persists around the university. It wasn’t until I saw the screenshots, and the messages from worried parents about armed police on campus, that I realised a student had actually carried a decapitated animal around campus. I don’t think this could have happened anywhere other than at Exeter University, where the upper class has very little regard for how their financial habits and outdated hobbies affect those around them.  

Class divides are prominent in all Universities but Exeter, known as the ‘Durham of the South’ or the home of ‘Oxbridge rejects’, has a higher proportion of upper-class students from wealthy backgrounds. To harshly stereotype, in Exeter, it seems like everyone and their mother lives in London, knows how to Ski and lives off Daddy’s money. Just look at the sheer number of students who engage with the yearly Exeter Ski Trip. Sitting at £499 per person, in self-catered accommodation and without the cost of parties included in the price, this sky-high amount is not something that everyone can afford. Yet, it is sold as something you must do while at university.  

Exeter, known as the ‘Durham of the South’ or the home of ‘Oxbridge rejects’, has a higher proportion of upper-class students from wealthy backgrounds

The hobby of attending extremely expensive events and trips is a staple of the Exeter University experience and aids in widening the gap between the lower-class and the upper-class students. With events that focus on betting money at the Races, and attending balls such as EGB, where tickets are now being sold for £150, is it such a surprise that Exeter has gained the reputation of an elitist, Tory-filled institution?  

As someone who grew up in Newport in South Wales, coming to Exeter was a culture shock. Though the class divide isn’t as bad as in some other universities in the UK, there is a clear divide within Exeter between those who have come from money and those who don’t. It was incredibly strange coming into my first-year accommodation and making new friends, only to find out they knew ten or twenty other people at the university already from school. To no one’s surprise, these cliques were formed of people from their privately funded schools. This is to be expected when 30% of the student body attended private schools. 

There is very little regard from the university itself in terms of housing for first years, and the financial burden it can bring. In my first year at Exeter, I ended up in private accommodation that cost me £175 a week, when I had applied to accommodation that averaged between £130-£150. This extra £25 a week set me back £1,200.  

No extra financial help was given to me by the University and had I not been fortunate enough to receive a Welsh student loan I would been unable to afford my place at Exeter. This lack of financial compassion from the university, when they allocated me an accommodation that I had not picked and could barely afford, is part of the classism problem. Those working at Exeter seem to have accepted that most of their student body has ample financial means to support themselves, and this assumption has come at the detriment of those less financially fortunate.  

This assumption has come at the detriment of those less financially fortunate.  

In my third year at university, the divide is less noticeable, but that is because I have found financially like-minded people to spend time with. I find it easier for my lifestyle to live with friends who also need to work upwards of twenty hours a week to help with rent and prefer the beauty of the affordable prices in Pinhoe Road Aldi to the staggering cost of Waitrose.  

This doesn’t mean that the students who were lucky enough to come from affluent backgrounds are inherently bad people and deserve to be burned at the stake. Their main crimes mainly accumulate into a naive ignorance of the financial plight of others and a near-complete inability to shop anywhere other than Urban Outfitters or Lulu Lemon.  

In regard to where the debate of classism in Exeter began, with the headless, legless deer paraded like a prize, the university is yet to finish their investigation into the who, what, where, and why. It comes as no surprise that an anonymous tip has linked this incident with the conservative society and shooting society on campus, as I’m doubtful that any other society would have the audacity to attempt to pull something like this off. Even if the deer was purchased by first-years because they had a craving for venison, this behaviour, which I’m sure has upset and shocked many students, is a product of this naïve disinterest that privileged students maintain.  

This behaviour, which I’m sure has upset and shocked many students, is a product of this naïve disinterest that privileged students maintain.

Class divides are an issue in Exeter. From the increasing rent prices to the seas of ‘rich people’ in accommodations such as Holland Hall, Exeter has the reputation of being filled with posh and bigoted students. While this is a stereotype that persists in the larger society of the UK and must be dealt with outside of a university setting, the administration at Exeter University, with their slow involvement in making these students accountable for their actions, is fundamental in feeding into this negative, conservative reputation that Exeter University has cultivated.  

You may also like

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign Up for Our Newsletter