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@mauricioatstandrews Rides Into The Sunset

“People are misinterpreting where I’m coming from [...] they think that I’m this billionaire-prince-polo-playboy that’s trying to make fun of poor people. It’s really not that. I’m none of those things,” Mauricio Garcia-Gojon, a since-graduated fourth-year International Relations student told me in April, as I sat on his living room couch and waited for my tea to cool. 

Garcia-Gojon also played down his instagram, @mauricioatstandrews: “Two thousand followers? It’s not really a claim to greatness.” Despite his repeated denial of BNOC-hood, it’s worth underlining that one in five St Andrews students follow his account — around the same proportion of British adults who have the BBC News app. I’m not the only one who thinks along those lines: Garcia-Gojon recently received a £5,000 written takeover offer for his account. “I didn’t take that,” he told me. “It’s kind of my baby.”  

He originally started @mauricioatstandrews in late 2023 to boost his campaign for IR School president. When he lost the election, he turned it into something much more irreverent, with the provocative memes, pot-shots at everything from societies to HMO licences, and ads for occasional guest lectures and upcoming events. Garcia-Gojon felt strongly about the event plugs — they helped advertise unaffiliated societies that he believes would otherwise get overlooked, because the University doesn’t provide “any support”. Garcia-Gojon was not the Student Union’s biggest fan. “We should abolish the Union as it stands,” he said. “It’s really haemorrhaging money.” 

Alongside the event round-ups, Garcia-Gojon hoped his often barbed memes would spark discussion about some of the issues he’s noticed at university. “St Andrews, it’s very stratified. There’s almost two or three different St Andrewses for different groups of people,” he said. Last year, one of his friends drew up a guest list of around 400 people for an event he was planning. For Garcia-Gojon, the names on the list seemed to perfectly encapsulate St Andrews’ social divide. “These are the people that I always see [...] If you assume that St Andrews is around ten thousand people, that leaves you with the idea that, ‘No, this is actually a very small minority.’” 

Garcia-Gojon has tried hard to branch out: “I try to get out of my bubble [...] but it is really hard. It is almost institutionalised.” Chats with domestic students have sparked a lot of his memes that lampoon the (allegedly) laxer admissions for international students. “I have a lot of friends here who are Scottish and I know that they had to work harder than I did to get in here,” he said. 

Some friends from outside his bubble are put off by high ticket prices to posh events; but for some, he told me, there’s more going on. He pointed to The Saint as an example; working-class friends, he said, have felt put off even from applying. “Oh, The Saint, they don’t like us,” he recounted. Garcia-Gojon worries that when people who feel excluded don’t even apply, they just worsen the problem. He had mixed feelings about The Saint. “There have been articles that have really made a lot of people feel unwelcome. [...] It’s a newspaper, I think it’s important to have a wide range of viewpoints, even if it’s viewpoints I wouldn’t agree with, or find literally quite disgusting.”

“I feel like that self-selection perpetuates a lot of the divisions in this town,” he said. He pointed to societies like the Polo or Clay Pigeon Club, which often do free events, despite an “aura that they’re quite posh.” 

Garcia-Gojon did notice things changing since his arrival in 2020, though: “You really saw a displacement of a lot of the old boys’ clubs – many of them straight up disappeared during Covid, and many of them [...] became something completely different.” @mauricioatstandrews “wouldn’t have been allowed” pre-pandemic, he said. But now? “I can really do what I want, because nobody can check me. Some people have tried – they haven’t succeeded.” 

When we met in Garcia-Gojon’s flat in April, he told me he would shut down the account when he graduated. “I’m going to say my goodbye, and the account is going to die.” People with takeover offers “can just start their own page,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that are a lot smarter, wittier, funnier than me in this town, that would make much better memes than I ever could, and all they need to do is just start making them.”

So who, exactly, is Mauricio Garcia-Gojon? Garcia-Gojon saw himself as an “observer,” rather than a "crusader” — hence memes, not infographics. “I think that it’s a lot easier for me to just joke about it, and hope that it gains some traction if people agree with it,” he said. 

He wanted to make it clear there’s more to him than the account, though. “I’m not just a ‘meme guy’ that wears black ties and drinks champagne and rides horses. That is a very small part of what I do.” Alongside St Andrews, he’s been studying for a law degree from a university in his hometown in Mexico. He’s done advocacy work for disability and climate issues; in 2021, he was an aide to the Honduran delegation to COP26 in Glasgow. (As we started the interview, he casually mentioned he’d met then-First Minister Humza Yousaf earlier in the day.)

Perhaps, then, it’s reductive to define a man by his memes — but perhaps they can give you an idea. When I browsed @mauricioatstandrews to prepare for the interview, what struck me most weren’t the posts about Don’t Walk or Fixr or Fessdrews —  it was the amount of times he mentioned the Market Street Tesco. What’s that about? “I meet with a lot of people at Tesco. I’m a Tesco frequenter, I guess,” Garcia-Gojon said. 

He'd thought a lot about the shop. “You have friends from first year who you really haven’t talked to, and you haven’t seen them in years, and you see them in Tesco and you try to wave hi and they just look away. It’s the St Andrews experience.” He smiled. “Some people turn into somebody that you used to know.” 

Photo by Simon Ezra-Jackson

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