So you want to become a Big Name on Campus? You want the wide-eyed freshers to be told tales of your deeds and escapades from the paternalistic and not-at-all-irresponsible halls reps in between vaguely sexual drinking games? [Maybe the latter part was just me – Ed.] It’s a difficult path to take in life but has rewards at the end, namely selling out completely and making it harder for those following the path you hewn through the granite rock of university and balancing the different aspects of campus life.
You need to start small. Scrawl your name with a sharpie all over the walls in Jesters so everyone knows what a sick bloke you must be because you go to Jester’s. In an age of instant communication, misuse of the greatest technological advance in history for the purposes of making yourself better known is what everybody is up to from your aunt’s moderately homophobic facebook rants to the media campaigns of the multinationals and governments. Snapchat and Whatsapp are invaluable tools in your campaign to become known as a true madman. The Facebook pages dedicated to the goings-on of students are about as active as an English Literature student so don’t be too reliant on someone taking a photo of your misdeeds and sending it into Tell Him/Tell Her. However, that’s not to say that Facebook pages dedicated to airing dirty laundry in public won’t ever come back or be significant.
Yet, going to clubs a lot and acting like an absolute madman isn’t exactly a unique or niche activity. Sooner or later you’ll need to expand your audience. This is where student media comes in. There are several magazines and online print media to really get people to know you through. The radio and TV is perhaps a less sure shout for the aspiring ego but worth a shot always. Do you prefer writing film reviews, about obscure political issues or simply how you can tell what someone is like by which kebab they order? Maybe your idea of fun is writing unfunny satire? Give it a think and get stuck in. Join a committee as a section editor and further enforce your name on the poor innocent magazines. Snarky comments on articles are good, with some work you eventually become the story they are talking about. Controversial articles are of course the best way of courting BNOC status. Generally speaking, the more self-indulgent the better. You matter more than the plebs below you and they, quite frankly, don’t appreciate what a privilege it is to hear your views. Even better, how are students at a relatively middle of the road Redbrick university quite literally demi-gods in a world of mortal people who read the Sun and do anything quite so vulgar as working in anything other than media or finance? Write a nice self-congratulatory article for the views and notoriety. There is no such thing as bad publicity, unless you’re a BBC presenter from a bygone age.
Not content with this, have you also considered taking a part-time elected post? People really love pro-active course reps who send out daily emails so everyone can keep up on their progress. This is just the run-up to the campaign for a more substantial role such as being a departmental or faculty level student representative. Having your picture on the faculty noticeboard might not be as impressive as it sounds but more important is the endless opportunities to invite coursemates to non-events on facebook and to play up in lectures.
Everybody sells out one day. One day you will be a final year student and not quite made it into the premier leagues of BNOCs. It’s time for Sabbatical Elections. Fear not the threat of doing anything, being a Sabb is a great way to cement that status as a name on campus everybody knows, and in many ways is the final stage of a natural cycle. Imagine it, your face on posters all over campus and everybody hears you so much they just want it all to end. This is the BNOC dream. It also postpones your imminent departure for the Real World for another precious year. A year in which you can truly savour the fruits of your hard work to become well known. While everyone else has swanned off to work soul-destroying jobs or eke out a living as an artist, you have the influx of thousands of Freshers to influence. Just be warned, they don’t know who you are. A neo-Stalinist cult of personality might come in handy here. There isn’t particularly much for you to do here but it’s a nice little way of ensuring that your name is known by all.
The politically inclined could take BNOC status into the real world by attempting to become an MP, which provides a lot of opportunities for self-promotion. Otherwise it can be hard to ensure enough people know your name for you to be truly content. This is the curse of the BNOC, driven forever by the desire to be known. It can be hard to make friends when all your energies are spent on self-promotion, this is why BNOCs tend to be friends with each other as they need to interact with people who understand the unique pressures of trying to be a big name on campus.
This article appeared in Issue 5 of the Wessex Scene 2015/16