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The awaited return of the geese

We love to complain about them but they are integral to York

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This term may have been marked most prominently by the emergence of YUSU’s new sabbatical officers; however, there has been another emergence on campus, one of a far more sinister and aquatic nature.

Yes, this week marked the return of many of the geese to campus following the end of the hibernation season. Love them or hate them, I’m afraid to say the geese are going nowhere - but what do they represent? An integral part of the University’s identity and culture? Or a menace that we should allow the York Tories to start culling at one of their socials?

Geese have been an integral part of York’s character since 1968, when the decision was taken by Sir Johnson-Marshall (the chief architect of the Hes West campus) to construct Europe’s largest plastic bottom lake in the centre of the Hes West Campus. It has ever since served as a beacon, attracting large populations of wild waterfowl including mallards, swans and of course the dreaded geese.

While I imagine that this was done in an effort to create a greater level of biodiversity on the campus, I fear the law of unintended consequences might have a lot to say five decades on from the original introduction of the geese to our esteemed campus.

While somewhat attractive, the geese pose several problems to students on campus. The first is the most evident: they shit everywhere. Not only on the pathways, grassed areas and forecourts, but the aquatic menace have defiled the University of York’s most sacred of institutions, Europe’s largest plastic-bottom lake. Have you ever wondered why you are required to attend A&E following immediate contact with the lake? I am of the strong belief that it may have something to do with the 50-odd years the geese have been shitting in it for.

The second problem they pose is one a little closer to my heart as a resident of Le Page Court. If you are unaware, this charming block is situated just behind Gregg’s Place, an attractive spot you might think...wrong.

Unknown to me prior to moving in, the grassed area in the centre of Le Page acts as the primary breeding spot for white swans in the spring months; a feathery and shit infested red light district in equal measure. If you are unaware of what swans fucking at 6am sounds like, then I would probably have to say it resides somewhere between the noise a bunch of York students make in Flares on a Friday night, and the noise your childhood dog made briefly before being put down.

This then leads me on to my third issue; once our feathered locals have finished breeding, they lay their eggs, and this is when they become properly rowdy. Being a fresh-er, I have yet to experience the joys of a goose charging me down due to being within a 20 metre radius of its nest.

In such a situation I would be unaware of what to do. Do I: proceed to kick our feathered friend and most likely be suspended, or run from it because I’m pretty sure the goose has more liberties afforded to it by the university than I do.

Not to fear, there is a third alternative of how to respond in such an instance. Research conducted at the University of Brighton in 2018 by Dr. Laura Foxley Bird suggests that the imitation of a goose itself is a proven means of self-defence from attacks. Dr. Bird argues that, by simply extending one arm upwards and mimicking a quacking motion with your hand, the creature will interpret you as being a larger goose, and thus render the attack futile.

However, it must be noted that the geese have come to represent an integral part of the University’s identity and character.

I myself am a member of Vanbrugh college where the goose is the central institution that supports the fragile foundations of any form of social life within the college.

It is the main emblem within our college shield. In fact our college mascot is a 6ft neon purple duck named ‘Duck Norris’ and on 29 September every year our college JCRC holds a completely non-moronic social in rightful celebration of national goose day. The goose is central to Vanbrugh.

Choosing to neglect Vanbrugh’s completely appalling and some-what concerning lack of banter, it does represent how important to student life, and how enshrined the institution of ‘the goose’ has come to be in the University’s identity and character.

While the majority of this article has just been an 800-word moan about the problems geese pose to students at York, I am by no means suggesting we do anything to resolve these problems at all. Yes, they are bloody annoying, and no I don’t enjoy being woken up by them shagging at 6am every morning.

But the fact remains they are an integral part of the University’s cultural and historical identity and in some perverted way or another we all find some masochistic joy in what they do. So, to conclude, I would simply say: let them keep shitting, let them keep shagging and let them keep scrapping because after all, it makes them no worse than us.

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