The 5.15 request on BBC Radio 6 was a record played for a young university student who said the station had been her companion all through the night as she’d had to stay up all night to complete a university assignment that had to be submitted in five hours’ time. The presenter expressed sympathy towards her.
Why did someone who had stayed up all night to complete an assignment expect to receive sympathy? Why would you even admit that you had planned your time so badly that you had to stay up all night? It’s not as though assignments suddenly appear. Syllabuses and calendars for university courses are published at the beginning of the year, expectations are set out, deadlines are made clear. If you have to stay up all night, then the fault only lies with yourself.
The presenter might as easily have suggested that it had been a very foolish thing to do and have said that he hoped that the listener would learn from the experience. Most people listening at 5.15 am would probably have agreed with him. The drivers of the lorries heading north on the M5 motorway would have been bemused at the idea that staying up all night was worthy of sympathy. Drivers used to adhering to an exact schedule might have wondered how an intelligent person had found themselves in such a situation.
Perhaps complaining at having to stay up all night to complete an assignment because you hadn’t taken time to do it before is a “first world problem,” like complaining at having to drink instant coffee or at the WiFi in the holiday hotel being very slow, or perhaps it’s part of a culture of not growing up.
Having worked through a school-based teacher training course during the past year, it has been a frustration to have been part of a cohort of students who have been expected to have completed university assignments on time, in addition to teaching in a school, only to discover that the deadlines have been extended following complaints from the university-based students that there had been insufficient time. How would they cope when facing work each day? Would there be a daily excuse? Why has there developed a culture in which people expect sympathy for doing no more than what is expected?
Had there been a request for someone who had stayed up all night with a child, or with someone who was sick or dying, or for someone who had to face an unexpected emergency, then there might have been sympathy. Facing an assignment deadline? Whose fault is that?