Today was my boyfriend Matt’s graduation from university, which I got to go along to. We both go to Oxford, so as you can imagine it was a very traditional ceremony. So traditional, in fact, that it was all in Latin. There was an inordinate amount of bowing and doffing of hats, and all of the graduates wore subfusc. For those of you who don’t know, subfusc is the traditional dress Oxford students have to wear for all important events, like matriculation (admittance into the university at the start of your first year), all exams, and of course graduation. For guys, this involves wearing a black suit and white bow tie, for girls, a white shirt, black skirt, and black neck tie, with both needing a gown and a mortarboard on top of that. Basically, an absolute disaster in terms of both getting dressed and being in any way comfortable. But, I have to admit, the whole ensemble brings a great sense of tradition and uniformity to the whole proceedings, as does the centuries-old ceremony. Although, quite frankly, the hour-long ceremony was at least 45 minutes too long.
Graduations in general bring a great opportunity to have a much-needed family day out. Today was really nice, and we managed to fit in lunch at Quod and afternoon tea at Browns (not that those places will mean very much to most of you!). There were one too many instances of people thinking that I was my boyfriend’s sister (ew), but the whole day really made me realise what an amazing city Oxford is, and how lucky I am to go to such a brilliant university. To be honest, the near-constant reminders of “That’ll be you next year!” did get a bit old, but I will be proud to graduate with such a prestigious degree. It was also so nice to see Matt have such a great send-off from university, because I know he’s going to miss it (well, who wouldn’t?).
Going back to the idea of tradition, a lot of people have a problem with this. Mainly, I’m sure, in relation to the Latin aspect of the degree ceremony, there have been criticisms of how irrelevant and outdated these degree ceremonies are, and calls for them to be updated to eradicate the ‘useless’ traditions from the proceedings. But one of the greatest things about Oxford is tradition: formal hall dinners at least weekly; living and working in historic buildings and famous libraries; the age-old collegiate system within the university; and of course the traditional ceremonies for all members of the university which highlight their time at Oxford, and which have been practiced for centuries. Yes, they’re a bit of a faff, and no, I shouldn’t think more than 4 or 5 people in the Sheldonian Theatre understood the complex Latin speeches, but they’re Oxford, and anyone who is proud to call themselves a member (current or former) of such an institution should be proud to uphold it’s age-old traditions, in order for future generations to be able to truly gain an Oxford experience.
(P.S. Dress: Dorothy Perkins, love love love, Bag & Shoes: New Look)