University of Oxford
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32517: On buying sub fusc in 2020

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posted on 2023-12-08, 22:07 authored by Lockdown2020 and Beyond Project

Gentle reader, I have a slightly scandalous confession: I do not own an academic gown. And I have no plans of acquiring one either. I know, I'm a rebel. "But!" you might say. "But surely!" you might gasp. "Aren't these quaint traditions the whole point of Oxbridge?" you might protest. "Is it not a time-honoured tradition when one matriculates at Oxford to change one's Facebook profile picture to a photo of oneself in sub fusc in front of the Radcliffe Camera? Plus you're a graduate student so you get to wear the long ones! For shame, sir, for shame!"

Well, gentle reader, I've actually already thought of that. I carefully identified five situations in which I might wear sub fusc, to wit: 1) formal dinners in my college, 2) formal dinners at other people's colleges, 3) graduation, 4) exams, and 5) matriculation. As it happens, none of these apply to me! I am: 1) not in a college that requires sub fusc in formal dinners, 2) attending Oxford in 2020 so I'm not allowed to eat in other colleges, 3) on a PGCE course so there is no graduation, 4) on a course with no exams (see point 3), and 5) attending in 2020 so matriculation is online (see point 2). Therefore, I do not need to shell out 30 quid for an academic gown I will never wear and which will clog up my wardrobe when I've graduated. QED.

I think the person it shocked the most was my mother, who raised many of the hypothetical objections I presented above. I was surprised at her strong feelings on the subject but, on reflection, I suppose she must always have dreamed of dreaming spires. The sister, daughter, niece, cousin, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Oxbridge graduates, she must have been miffed not be accepted when it was her turn to apply. "Never mind," she must have thought to herself; "I shall live the Oxbridge experience vicariously through my children." Sorry Mum. I'll be sure to indulge in all the other quaint traditions and let you know about them - just not this one.





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