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Life Divided: Matriculation

For Matriculation

By Rachel Craig-McFeely

Freshers: you’ve gone to the Rad Cam, narrowly avoided being hit by a bus on St Aldates, and sorrowfully removed your freshers wristband. You’re a fully-fledged Oxford student, right? But, to adapt Mean Girls, “you don’t even go here”. It sounds harsh, but it’s true, and that’s exactly what will make matriculation a memorable day in your Oxford life. Often dull, frequently drunken, you’ll eventually look back on those strange hours with a certain fondness. Ultimately, matriculation’s just one of those Oxford things.

It’s a ceremony in which you are officially enrolled into Oxford, and simultaneously spend the day so inebriated you forget you’re wearing sub fusc. Matriculation is much more than a traditional ceremony: it’s an introduction to the unique cocktail of ritual, gown-wearing, and, occasionally, alcohol, that is central to Oxford life.

Sub fusc may be a bizarre mixture of school uniform and capes, but as a second year whose gown brings horrific Prelims flashbacks, do enjoy the novelty while it lasts. Photos will act as essential fodder for your Facebook profile/Instagram feed, and are something to look back at nostalgically when you’re no longer “fresh”.

Moreover, matriculation is effectively a free-pass for daytime drinking. With the ceremony often ending by 10am, what else is there to do but grab a pint before returning to college for a champagne reception, followed by free food with wine provided? After that you need only keep up your blood-alcohol level for matriculash, where you can recreate the joys of Freshers’ Week, but now with friends!

Matriculation is an opportunity to take a day off and celebrate getting into Oxford. So enjoy it, because tomorrow you’ll be back in the library, probably with a headache, working on the next essay.

Against Matriculation

By Anna Elliott

Matriculation was always destined to be a disaster. The sub fusc you purchased last week seemed exciting and Harry Potteresque at the time, but now it’s become clear that it’s actually impractical and confusing. After only a few minutes, you’ll realise that almost nobody looks good in a billowing gown and, unable to use your mortarboard for rain protection, your hair will be stuck to your forehead and your white shirt alarmingly transparent.

Not only will your drenched attire be forever immortalised in tourists’ photos, but, for the next few weeks, these terrible memories will be plastered all over Facebook. You may have dreamed that such photos would portray you and your cool new friends posing on the Bodleian steps in the sun. Not so. Instead, the sky will be overcast, and the sheer volume of students jostling for the perfect shot means that you’ll be forced to take pictures on the pavement outside Sainsbury’s. And let’s face it: you’ve known these people for two weeks. Many matriculation pictures end up capturing pretty random groups of people, some of whom may detest each other by the time Prelims roll around.

Although the matriculation ceremony itself takes only about ten minutes, the whole day is filled with pressure to commemorate this unique event. The afternoon will generally be spent doing one of two things: either you’ll be stuck in the library attempting to salvage first week work, or in the pub participating in matriculash. Either way, by the evening, you’ll be exhausted – but the pressure to go out means you, and everyone else in the entire college, will troop out to Bridge in the cold and the dark just to stand in a hot, cramped room, packed with freshers. In the end, the only thing that makes matriculation bearable is knowing that next year you’ll be able to laugh at the idealistic freshers who don’t know what the day has in store for them.

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