St Andrews may have its fair share of problems, but one facet of this university people can’t complain about is its diversity. There is an amazing breadth of people here that is almost incomparable to any other major European university. We are lucky to boast students from every corner of the globe. The diversity of students is extremely well integrated into our ecosystem. The social secretary for the rugby club (a most British of sports) has the surname of a European capital city so is presumably from the continent. The vice-captain of the Men’s Golf Club hails from Kenya of all places, a country I was unaware had golf courses. Notable St Andrews BNOC and admin of the most important St Andrews Facebook page “St Polldrews” comes from the capital of the Sultanate of Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan (a city which no one else could name let alone spell on the first time of asking). This doesn’t even mention the more obvious points of recruitment like the US and Australia. We could choose to thank the current administration for their global outlook (or their desire to charge as many people tuition as possible). However, I would like to posit that we look further back to truly see why we have such a diverse community.
Truly who we must thank for the diversity present in our small coastal town is the colonists of old. Men like Sir Walter Raleigh (with a gracious charter from then Queen Elizabeth I) and other seafaring pioneers like him are the cause of our current state of diversity in St Andrews. On a tour of the commonwealth then princess Elizabeth said in a speech on arrival in Nairobi “Little more than 50 years ago Nairobi was a savage place, the home of savage animals and uninhabited except for the occasional band of nomadic horsemen.” Without these great adventurers and colonists I would not know one of my greatest friends here in St Andrews Parth Patel. Born in Nairobi, Parth would have been nothing but a nomadic horseman on the plains of east Africa. While he may be considered a savage in some terms, particularly revelrous nights in Kinkell Byre come to mind, he is a man of manners and has a yearning for higher education.
The great empire that stretched so wide that the sun never set upon it (in fact it still doesn’t to this day) has given rise to so many great cultured nations that flock to its centre to attend its great universities. The most common destination for these recently encultured colonial subjects is of course the great trifecta commonly dubbed “St Oxbridge”. We of course attract people from all our colonies. The rebellious yanks seem to fall in line when their planes touch upon the landing strip and those ex-convicts from Australia conform to the queen’s laws when benefiting from our wonderful education. The Canadians after intermingling with the colonists of our neighbours to the south are happy to spit on the French while wandering about in sallies quad and the Indians seem happy to eat when the food is served in the canteens of our residence halls. All the queen’s subjects come in rank and file to study at our university.
Outside of the queen’s direct rule Britain was also extremely effective in implementing English as the lingua franca the world over. Men and women from the continent and beyond are taught English in schools. The power of the empire is such that anyone with hopes of power or importance will learn English. The global reach of English means that St Andrews can open its doors to the children of Arab oil barons, south American drug lords and maybe even most dangerously French politicians. Anyone with the right amount of money and education can study at our fine university because the language of instruction is already taught to them. We are lucky to live in our own Babel where everyone speaks the same language and we are able to work towards communing with God.
En effet, it is the empire that we must thank for our diversity. In its unending dream of expansion, it has planted itself in all four corners of the map. After the removal of native cultures and languages, we are able to all find ourselves in St Andrews. All products of the same empire and speaking the same language. I am proud to be able to rub elbows with people from so many different countries and still know that they come from a civilised background. It is truly beautiful to see so many colours speak the same language, act with the same general mannerisms and praise the same crown. God Bless the Empire and God Save the Queen!
The views in this article are the author’s own, and may not reflect the opinions of The Liberty Club