Ah, the age-old rivalry between any two universities occupying a single medium-sized town – the posh wankers and the polys. But while it’s so easy to generalise and hate on our Trent neighbours, how much do UoN students actually know about how the other half live? Rebecca Harvey explores the Trent Army, one of the most unique aspects of uni life Trent has to offer.
Chances are whether you’re a bright-eyed fresher or a seasoned third year, you’ve spent many a Wednesday down at Crisis, either battling the manic queue or pulling your ruined trainers off the sticky floor. If you’re brave, you might venture onto the balcony, where you’ll be sucked into the heaving mass of sports societies, with hockey boys downing VKs and entire sports teams piling into the one tiny photo booth. On this balcony, you might find a few netball girls in fancy dress, or a joint social bonding over one shared theme. However, other than the few half-hearted attempts at fancy dress, most of Crisis are in their best ‘going-out-gear’. Fancy dress really isn’t ‘a thing’.
Head down to Trent and it’s a completely different story. As soon as a Trent fresher arrives, they are sucked into the Trent Army. If you walk through city centre during Freshers’ Week, you’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of students dressed as soldiers, all heading down to their favourite watering hole. Once Freshers’ Week fades, Trent students, week on week, still smear on the green face paint and tie on a camouflage bandana, keeping the Trent Army persona alive.
There is, quite simply, nothing like Trent Army at UoN, and the degree to which it has taken over Trent is almost unprecedented. The fancy dress theme is something the SU actively encourages. They host Trent Army themed nights and their leaflets often appear in the shape of a tank. Every week the SU DJ can be heard whipping up the crowds and encouraging the infamous Trent Army chant.
“Trent Army helps alleviate the fear that comes with starting uni … Their chant celebrates the bond that we try so hard to diminish”
Trent students are introduced to Trent Army at the earliest opportunity, and it is something their nightlife reinforces every following week. As freshers, they are told to dress as soldiers, and it creates a unifying identity which they all can share, bringing them closer together and helping alleviate the fear that comes with starting uni. This bond only grows as, week after week, they are encouraged to take part in the theme and are continually told ‘you are a part of Trent Army’.
Trent Army clearly has infiltrated much of Trent life, and becomes an integral part of their identity in many ways. At Varsity events, every Trent fan screams the Trent Army chant. It motivates and bonds the crowd, whilst arguably our own chants are somewhat derogatory towards Trent. Their chant celebrates the bond that we try so hard to diminish.
“As students, our university makes up a big part of our identities”
The majority of Trent students were generally positive about Trent Army when asked. One student said, “Although arguably a bit cringey, Trent Army is a nice unifying identity for all Trent University students. It isn’t aggressive nor fuels any potential rivalry between the two universities.” Another student echoed these sentiments and said, “I think it’s really good as it creates a sort of unity between everyone at Trent, a bit like our own community; but at the same time it is a little embarrassing.”
This generally seemed to be the consensus amongst the students asked – that it unifies everyone into one big group, although they found it a little embarrassing at times. On the other hand, one Trent student was less than positive, arguing, “The ‘Army’ gives a fairly aggressive vibe which probably doesn’t help when coupled with drunk freshers. I find the whole chanting thing a bit embarrassing.”
As students, our university makes up a big part of our identities – Trent Army seems to be playing on this. It brings thousands of students together and celebrates the fact they all choose to pursue academia at the same institution. It isn’t about tearing down other universities (unlike many of our own chants) and creates a community for Trent to share in. The University of Nottingham has nothing like this – perhaps this bizzare Trent quirk is something we could learn a lesson from. Let’s bond together and celebrate our uni, not tear down our perceived ‘rivals’.
Featured Image ‘nottingham trent univ’ by Char on Flickr (licence)