Yes, Oxford University has many problems, but some of us are far too ready to denigrate and drag it down. “Oh but, it’s outdated, archaic, ridiculous, pretentious!” I could go on. These are the woefully bland, mind-numbingly turgid charges levelled at our university. We all do it, and the reasons we commit these little acts of treason against Oxford are manifold.
We perhaps feel guilty about attending an institution so steeped in privilege. Maybe we’re self-conscious about Oxford’s idiosyncratic traditions. Perhaps we are ourselves simply embarrassed about getting in, and being transplanted from normality into archaic majesty and beauty, coping by indulging in this ultimate form of self-effacement, a crime of which I myself am particularly guilty.
But when we do this, we not only fail to deal with the real problems the university faces, we also ignore countless reasons why we should be very proud to attend such an institution, with the great people Oxford has educated having done so much to improve our world.
So, although constructive criticism is welcomed, and is necessary, I think the present culture of sloppy, unhelpful vilification of the great university we attend must change. We need to realise that there’s precisely nothing wrong with being proud of Oxford. In Liverpool, Durham, UEA, Hull, there are students who brim with affection for their universities, and so they should. My point is so should we.
We can all poke fun at where we study, but it strikes me as particularly foolish to spend three years or more of your life bearing some self-righteous grudge against a university thousands of others would give anything to go to. Because to do so is to lose your own chance to make your mark on this place. Don’t hold yourself aloof, throw yourself in.
An educational institution is not defined by its traditions, its statues, or sartorial codes, but by its students, of which you are one, and you have a right to.