Friday night fights

Almost every Friday or Saturday night that I’ve been out, I’ve seen at least one or two fights, mostly involving inebriated students who’ve just left the bar. Generally, it stays on the street, but sometimes, it’ll be inside a campus building. Last weekend, a fight broke out in front of the Walkhome kiosk.

I’m not trying to say that there’s been a recent rise in fighting on or off campus, but for some reason, I’ve been noticing it more.

Though I’m pretty quick to condemn fighting in general, I’ll be the first to admit that on some level I want to see it happen. I enjoy watching the occasional UFC bout or hockey fight, but there’s something different about a street fight. There’s a definite shock value, but also something … humanizing about it.

Some people will definitely be unhappy with my characterization of fighting as ‘humanizing.’ In any case, what I mean by ‘humanizing’ is that there’s a genuine expression of emotion that’s rarely seen—in public at least. Humans are emotional beings, but our culture urges us to repress certain feelings, especially when those feelings are present in men.

I’ve spent some time trying to understand why people actually engage in fights. I guess the book Fight Club would be a good place to start. The author, Chuck Palahniuk, described the modern man as dissatisfied with the current ideals of masculinity, and trying to forge a new masculine identity.

Maybe it’s irresponsibility, but perhaps the current state of masculinity at Queen’s is an underlying reason for fighting. On some level, I think it is, but only reflection from those who participate in fights will reveal that.

At Queen’s however, and any university for that matter, a more likely cause of violence is work-related stress. Queen’s students are under an incredible amount of pressure. From our extra-curricular involvements, internship and full-time job hunting, varsity athletics and ever-increasing educational requirements, we have less and less time to take a break and relax.

With Stauffer now open for 24 hours during the exam period, more students will probably live life at the extremes: pulling all-nighters to study for their exam, and upon completion, heading straight to the bar to celebrate or drown their sorrows. Those same students will be back at Stauffer Library the next morning, hung over, and repeating the cycle. I can’t remember where I read this, but this kind of life was described as: “Having one foot on a stove element, and one foot on a block of ice. The average temperature might be lukewarm, but in the end, you’ll just end up with two blistered feet.” This lifestyle isn’t healthy—our stress level doesn’t decrease, we just burn out.

If I’m right, maybe we just need an outlet to vent our endless list of grievances. A better solution would be for Queen’s to revisit the style and structure of education here as a whole. Our problems as students are, in some ways, symptomatic of a potential flaw in the system. There’s a temporary solution: Queen’s could provide us with some broken office equipment, baseball bats and a single-track CD with Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

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