The snobby dark side of Australia's universities: How a State school student was 'humiliated' so badly at a university Open Day he almost gave up his dream of becoming a doctor
An interesting story. I think I need to put my sociologist's hat on to explain it. The Muslim guy obviously lacked social skills and awareness.
The early days at university are a time of uncertainty and some anxiety for most students. And they reassure themselves by hanging out with other freshers that they know -- usually from their old school. It is not snobbery. It is an adjustment to a new environment and experience.
So if you have no-one there that you know you are at a largely inescapable disadvantage -- as Mr Khan was. His prior environment did not prepare him for university. It was a new milieu for him.
I was in a similar sitution. I actually taught myself for the Senior exam so I knew nobody at university when I first went there. As it happens, that did not bother me. I was used to running my own race. But I did do what Mr Khan should have done: Join campus special interest groups. I met people that I became friendly with that way. I even joined a university army unit, which I enjoyed greatly. Approaching people you don't know out of the blue and with nobody or nothing to introduce you is just not British and will get you nowhere
A medical student has claimed his neighbourhood and the humble state high school background led to him being led to him being 'snobbed' at one of Australia's most prestigious universities.
The experience was so humiliating that Fahad Khan said it almost caused him to give up his dream of becoming a doctor.
In a TikTok video, which has almost 50K likes, third-year medical student Fahad Khan recalled his experience of attending Sydney University's Open Day as a year 12 student in 2016 from western Sydney.
Under the caption 'Getting snobbed @USyd Open Day as a person from Western Sydney' Fahad said the first thing he did was go to the medicine information session.
'I saw that there were two medical students, I think, and about 10 Year 12 students with them,' Fahad says. 'When I went close to them I heard them speaking about things like 'does Mr X still teach maths and does Mrs X still do that?' 'And they were all having a laugh and I went 'look they are all mates, that's like pretty nice'.'
The caption on the TikTok video changes to: 'This is why I believe there's parts of USyd with a toxic selective/private school culture' as Fahad describes trying to join in the conversation.
'I tried to say hello and they ignored me,' he says. 'And then I say it again... I say 'Hi my name's Fahad'. 'And they all turned around and they looked at me and then they looked away and one of the medical students was like 'oh, hi'.
'And then they all started talking about their high school again and I said 'what the hell? They just like kind of ignored me',' Fahad says.
'But I said 'You know what? The session is starting in five minutes, maybe this is just a group of mates and fair enough if they want to talk to their mates before they start talking to everyone, that's fine'.'
However, things did not improve when the session started. 'The first question they asked was 'Which high school did everyone go to?',' Fahad says. 'Most of them were James Ruse students, there was some Sydney Boys [High] and Sydney Girls. 'I was the only student from a non-selective non-private school.'
Fahad describes what happened next as 'unbelievable'. He said all those from the selective and private schools were taken to one side of the room to talk to the medical students while he was left alone on the other side.
'I asked them 'Am I coming? Am I also included in this?'
'And the medical student turned around to me and he was like 'Oh, there's like this third medical student going to come, you hang out with that person' and I was like 'What the hell?'.'
The third medical student did not show up.
Fahad decided he was 'going to force' himself into the experience. 'So, I went there and I sat with them, and I forced myself to sit with them and do what they were doing,' Fahad says.
'And I kid you not throughout the entire 100 per cent of the session they were talking about inside jokes from their high school.
'Whenever I asked a question like, 'How was first year? How was second year?' they were like, 'Oh yeah, it's alright'. 'Then they looked away and started talking about their high school again and I was like, 'What the hell is wrong with these people?'.'
Fahad said the experience was shattering. 'I remember leaving that session completely humiliated,' he says.
'Then on the train home I remember thinking about how my peers at school would laugh at me when I said I wanted to be a doctor and they would just say to me 'you know some dreams are out of reach'. 'That day almost made me believe I couldn't be a doctor.'
The comments underneath the video made it clear that Fahad's experience wasn't unique.
'I went through usyd med as one of the only non selective/public schooled/low SES students and it was so isolating being around so much privilege,' one wrote.
'Usyd was so toxic, I transferred there my 2nd uni year and the vast majority of people looked down on me for the area I came from,' another said.
'Definitely a superiority complex held by many students at usyd,' another wrote.
Fahad's story touched at least one person who said they were associated with the university.
'From someone that works at USYD: Really sorry you had to go through this man. Was heartbreaking to watch,' they wrote.