Dear Agony Ant,
I’m currently a third year engineering student, and I really think we have been screwed over. Two of our modules have been taught by terrible lecturers who we have complained about but nothing has been done, and I don’t think the school is doing anything about it. It doesn’t help that I’ve got anxiety and I was wondering if you had any idea of how to help?
Dear Stressed Engineer,
Firstly, I am so sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time with your course, and that this is impacting on your mental health! Your mental health is TOP priority here, so I'm going to start off by making sure you know of some services available to help you. You didn’t mention if you were seeking help, but it could be a good idea to get in touch with the university’s student well-being service for help on managing your anxiety should you feel this may benefit you. You can find out more about this service here.
Another great way of getting in touch with other students going through similar experiences with their mental health is through the NUSU Mental Health Society - 'Mind the Gap'. This society organises fortnightly discussions on mental health topics, socials to relieve stress and also talks from mental health professionals. It’s a good to know you aren’t alone whilst going through these times, and this society could be a great way to help relieve some of your stress!
OK, so we've prioritised your mental health, what next? To begin, I totally empathise with your situation. Feeling like you aren't being provided with a reliable source of guidance for your studies, in the middle of a pandemic, AND in third year is an understandably stressful situation.
It is difficult to give you the correct advice here, as I don’t know the ins and outs of the issue and what steps have already been taken to tackle it. I also don’t want to send you in the wrong direction.
However, if you haven’t already made a formal complaint and wish to do so, you can do this using the university ‘Student Complaint and Resolution Procedure’, with a three step complaint system where the school is obligated to implement solutions within 30 days. If this is not resolved, you are able to make a level 2 complaint to take further actions. Here is a link to this service.
Alternatively, have you considered contacting the student advice centre? This service is independent from the university and would be great to help you find the right way to solve this problem. You can find them here.
Finally, there’s something I want you to remember: this is not your fault! You are trying your best in a tricky situation and you’ve reached out for help. It’s been a really tough year, and to be doing your third year throughout it is an amazing achievement. Hopefully, using the above services will help you find the best way to solve this issue and help you feel better about your course and situation too.
I wish you the best of luck, Stressed Engineer. Let's get you feeling like a Relaxed Engineer!
Dear Agony Ant
Is water wet?
Dear Dumping Truck,
The Agony Ant team appreciates your question of “Is water wet?” but I feel I should make you aware that this topic has led to much discussion and debate and has resulted in no less than 3 existential crises. I therefore write this response out of respect for the sheer mental gymnastics applied by our team in tackling this issue.
Is water wet? On the surface, the answer to this seems obvious. ‘Of course, water is wet!’ many cry, how could water be anything but wet. As a colleague pointed out, ‘it’s not dry, so what else could it be?’. But I feel this topic requires clarity in some definitions: what is wetness and what is water.
Wetness, some argue, requires the existence of two materials: the liquid (water) and a solid (surface). If there is liquid present on the surface it is therefore wet. But you, Dumping Truck, do not specify if there is a second material; a surface to be wetted. The new question is then ‘can water wet itself?’.
I posed this question to numerous random strangers I met and have been enlightened by their responses. Some claim that wetness is a state, if fire isn’t burnt then water isn’t wet (or wetted). Others say the presence of two or more water molecules means that both are wet as they wet each other, but that one molecule is not wet. However, this same person claimed a single H2O molecule does not constitute water, making it safe to say this respondent was not mentally sound.
A rather contentious position held within the team is that an object is only wet if it not normally meant to be wet, therefore a fish isn’t wet when it’s in the ocean. This notion caused much upset and the person responsible has since been ostracised from The Courier.
In summary, from my poll of random strangers and discourse amongst the Agony Ant colony, I’ve found most support the claim that water is wet (approx. ¾ support). However, this issue is not cut and dried. With every new person I posed this question to dozens of over-analytical and highly specific stances were drawn with little consensus, which pushes me to question the very reality of fact and the dynamics of our perspective within the wider universe- but perhaps we can save that for next week’s edition. Besides, after this I’m rather in need of a glass or two.
The Agony Ant is in collaboration with NUSU’s Inclusive buddies, a bunch of students from a diverse range of backgrounds. You can read more about them here.
Want to share your woes with Agony Ant in exchange for some brilli-ant advice? Send in your problems here.