If I were Vice-Chancellor for a day…

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    …I'd introduce house-elvesStop me if you’ve heard this one before – but daily life in Oxford can be quite manic. Running between a tutorial one moment and a hockey match the next, the necessity of packing in as much as possible can lead to considering rather alarmingly serious solutions. From faking illnesses and grandmothers’ deaths in order  to escape an essay deadline, to the idea of consuming all four packets of pro-plus lined up on your desk in a valiant farewell to academia forever, theories of how to escape life in the Bell Jar run constantly  through the average student’s thoughts. One idea, however, that has made frequent appearances in my idle library daydreams, has received comparatively little attention. It is, quite simply, the desire for a house elf.For the free-thinking liberals who waft along Oxford’s streets in their flowery Primark smocks, the idea of a  two-tier Oxford society in which Harry Potter-esque minions sacrifice their independence to serve ungrateful students is at best undemocratic and at worst downright barbarous. Despite the human (or animal?) rights issues which may be involved in the decision to introduce house elves to Oxford, however, I think the advantages are all too clear.Though some might argue the beloved scout falls into the category of the elf, the unfortunate truth is that there are certain tasks which the scout will just not perform. Unwashed dishes piled up in the bedroom tend to remain unwashed; the bags of dirty laundry left out on the all-too-hopeful expectation the scout might feel kind enough to take and clean are, in my experience at least, usually left exactly where they are. A house elf, however – unversed as he is in the troublesome ideas of unions, wages, and weekends – will complete any task which you feel inclined to give him. Just think of what your house elf could do. Books that need returning to the library? No problem. That tiresome task of queuing for ball tickets or club nights? Done. The essay that can’t be finished? Sorted. And, in the most pressing of circumstances, with a quick slick of makeup and some careful sartorial choices, the house elf can even double for you in a tutorial. Don’t worry  – your tutor probably won’t notice.The advantages of the house elf, however, far exceed the execution of the menial tasks which, quite frankly, you could probably do yourself. Certain jobs, more than simply tiresome, are fundamentally impossible for humans to perform, and it is here that the house elf’s small frame and nimble fingers come into play. Have you, for example, ever had a tute partner who insists on raiding the library every week for the texts you so desperately need? Fear no more. With the house elf on your side, locks can be unpicked, windows unfastened, and books brought back to your room in triumph. More importantly, house elves can easily hack into computer systems to cancel library fines, upgrade reports, and perhaps even wangle you a 2:1 in Finals. What, I ask, is there to lose?For the more perspicacious among you, a point  which might easily be raised against the introduction of house elves is the fact that they are – and sadly, everyone, this is true – imaginary creatures. In answer to this, I propose the creation of a Minion Service, whereby obliging individuals can be hired out  to help students in need.  Those hard up on cash can earn a little money; those who are stressed will find their woes alleviated; and the masochistic can gain a little extra kick from being ordered around by the readily available ranks of unattractive and arrogant members of the student population. Yes, this system may encourage a divide between the rich and poor at Oxford. But, at the end of the day, why not exploit something that’s already there?
    by Leah Hyslop

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