The Oxford Student - Week 3 Trinity 2023

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Is Oxford a welcoming place for trans people?



A model of sporting inclusivity: Worcester’s 5-aside tournament

Trinity Term, Week 3 | Friday 12 May 2023


The University of Oxford’s Student Newspaper, Est. 1991

Michael Li is instead Chair of US Fundraising. The agreement reportedly promised to provide members of the Union with “key data and information produced by the FII Institute and its partners”. A further LinkedIn post said that the agreement entitled “collaboration on publications, research, events and an overarching strategy to engage the youth both at the University of Oxford and internationally on the most pressing global topics, helping identify, debate, and synthesise real-world solutions.”

Exclusive: The Oxford Union’s agreement with Saudi think tank

The Oxford Union reportedly signed an agreement with the Future Investment Initiative (FII) last October, The Oxford Student can reveal. Multiple press releases and posts from the FII con-

firm the agreement, which was signed in Riyadh last year at the FII’s 6th edition. The FII was set up by Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund and became notorious after it was blacklisted by major companies as a result of the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Oxford reacts to King Charles’ coronation

According to the press releases, the partnership was signed by Michael Li, the ex-President TT17 who represented himself to the FII as the Oxford Union’s Chair of Development Board. The Union have since confirmed that the Development Board does not exist, and that

On the 6th May, St Edward’s Crown was placed on King Charles III’s head, recognising him as sovereign of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

King Charles’s coronation involved the presentation of the Coronation Oath Bible and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, coronation speeches, and choral and orchestral performances in Westminster Abbey.

Queen Camilla was recognised

The Oxford Union told The Oxford Student that they have no current relationship with the FII and that no agreement had been signed, telling us that this had been confirmed by the FII. However, when we initially approached the FII, we received contradicting statements.

Initially, the FII’s Head of THINK, Safiye Kucukkucara, with whom Michael Li reportedly signed the agreement, told us that promoting the agreement was “a really good idea” and that she wanted us to work with the FII to “amplify the messaging”. After further mes-

Read more on page 3

saging, the FII also confirmed to us that they had agreed an exploratory partnership with The Oxford Union for Hilary Term 2023. When we asked the FII for comment on The Oxford Union’s claim that they had never signed an agreement, they did not respond to multiple emails. Currently, the press release and posts remain online and unedited. There is also a photograph of Michael Li in Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia, signing a document alongside Safiye Kucukkucara in front of The Oxford Union logo. The Oxford Union told us, “It is customary and polite in many cultures to mark an interaction or a discussion with a symbolic photograph, in this instance to mark an agreement in principle to explore a partnership.” The use of the copyrighted logo was not signed off by Ahmad Nawaz (President at the time), but instead by Laura Lvov, Director of Development, at the behest of Charlie Mackintosh (President-elect at the time).

The agreement was reportedly signed in October 2022, during Ahmad Nawaz’s Union

Read more on page 4

using a consort crown originally created for Mary of Teck. Reporters for The Oxford Student walked through the city of Oxford to learn about ways in which the Oxford community reacted to and celebrated the coronation.

A live screening of King Charles’s coronation ceremony was organised from 11am in the cathedral of Christ Church, St Aldate’s. Dozens of people, including members of the University of Oxford, gathered in front of the cathedral’s TV screens to watch the broadcast.

Caleb McConnell, MSc student

Read more on page 5

- An attendee

“We struggle to have an intelligent or imaginative conversation in this country about power.
of Oxford’s antimonarchy protest
Canqi Charlie Bowden, Daisy Outram
How outfits are used in the Eras Tour to define a whole discography



Rose Henderson and Ayomilekan Adegunwa


Emily Hudson and Matthew Holland


Blane Aitchison


Milo Dennison (director), Hannah Byrne-Smith, Susie Barrows, Priya Mahan


Martin Alfonsin Larsen, Tara Earley, Frankie Coy, Matt Holland, Charlie Bowden, Jasmine Wilkinson, Niall Hall, Sami Jalil, Haochen



Martin Alfonsin Larsen, Charlie Bowden, Anvee Bhutani, Canqi Li, Gabrielle Thompson, Daisy Outram, Eleanor Luxton, Milo Dennison


Tara Earley, Leon Wheeler, Vedika Rastogi, Jack Arrowsmith


Matthew Holland, Vedika Rastogi


Blane Aitchison, Daisy Outram


Sami Jalil, Farrah Bergstrom, Georgia Ferris, Anna Ashkinazi


Frankie Coy, Haochen Wang, Grace Rees, Purav Menon


Charlie Bowden, Johannah

Mathew, Jennifer Robinson, Lukas Seifert, Miracle Kalonga


Jasmine Wilkinson, Kasturi Pindar


Jasmine Wilkinson, Eliza Smith


Emily Hudson, Nicole Hasler, Tymoteusz Syrytczyk


Niall Hall, Milo Dennison, Lukas Seifert


Haochen Wang, Patrick Groves, Bradley Beck, Eleanor Luxton


Blane Aitchison, Amina

Lounas, Jonah Poulard, Amanda Li, Tasneem Jodiyawalla

This week, I am especially proud of our front page investigation into the Union’s ties to Saudi-backed investment fund, the FII. Milo’s work on this story, over several months, exemplifies the standard of journalism that the Oxford Student endeavours to produce. Being able to get the investigation out with limited resources and multiple stakeholders trying to block our inquiries has been a remarkable achievement.

Journalistic dedication is displayed throughout the paper. Matt and Martin have put a huge amount of time into their feature on the trans community in Oxford,

and the reaction to the Union’s invitation of gender critical philosopher Kathleen Stock. In our coverage of Stock we have sought to go beyond the culture wars perspective used by national papers, and get to the heart of opinions on this issue in Oxford.

The coronation of King Charles has also divided opinion in the university. Charlie, Canqi, Daisy did the work of ‘proper journalists’ in their piece on how Oxford celebrated (or protested) the coronation. We considered doing a coronation pull out in this print, but eventually decided our budget couldn’t quite stretch to that…

Thanks to Ayomi, Emily and Matt for leading the paper so brilliantly and aiding the production of such a fantastic range of articles. I particularly recommend reading Brad’s article on the best college in Oxford’s five-a-side tournament!

Rose Henderson, Worcester College

Editors’ Picks


Ihave something to get off my chest. Trinity term, thus far, has been a disappointment. The weather has been utterly awful this term. The weather has been rainy and cold. There has been no croquet and there has been no punting - it’s just been dozens of hours in the SU offices. This is no bad thing – The Oxford Student has been one of a few highlights of the Trinity Term, and writing this editorial is always a fun time.

If you’ve been reading my editorials for the past term and a bit (which can’t be a group of more than five people), you will know I love a tenuous metaphor. From the lighthouse metaphor to last edition’s fateful walk – this editorial has been a space for some of


Grace Rees tells us about the dawn of May Day



Is this futuristic smart city causing more harm than good?



The case for and against the monarchy 9

Halima Saeed discusses her experience of intersectionality at Oxford 19

From the Editors

my most pretentious and exaggerated literary flourishes. This week I intend to continue in this vein. During our lay-in session this week I compared our formidable news team to a bull in a China shop – such was the fervent nature with which our team was breaking stories (I was particularly proud of this one). On a wider note, the whole team has been very impressive – and I want to take this time to thank some of the behind the scenes figures: Milo - spin doctor, director of strategy, the selfproclaimed ‘visionary’ behind The Oxford Student. A big thanks to Rose for being the editor-inchief. This paper would not function without you, quite literally. Somewhat embarrassingly, Rose somehow manages to be better than me at both my degree and my editor-in-chief role – which might say something about my diligence (or lack thereof), but in truth says even more about Rose’s amazing abilities.

Is it a dream? Or did all the Dep Eds finish lay in on day 1? Those ringing voices may sound like the musings of fairies but in fact it’s a dedicated team all pulling together on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. Not sure what accelerated the work this week – perhaps the cocktails at our “Hot off the Press” social had some sort of active ingredient.

In any case, I’m pleased, because the OxStu has plenty on offer for this edition. I’m once again so proud of all the work the team has put in - and special thanks to Matt, Rose, Ayomi and Blane who covered for me whilst I was doing mad-scientist antics with liquid Helium. (PS. That’s really really cold!)

The endless paradox of an Oxford student journalist is finding yourself excited by a topic, devoting all your time to it, and using it as a procrastination tool to avoid having to do your degree.

Thanks to the help of Martin, these past two weeks have been consumed by our article on trans issues which started as an idea I had whilst incredibly angry. For those who know me, anger is often my greatest motivator, that is besides Ayomi and Rose asking me how me and Martin are getting on.

Thanks naturally to Martin and to all those who agreed to interviews and therefore made our job easier.

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student
Ayomilekan Adegunwa, Worcester College
2 | Editorial
Emily Hudson, Oriel College
@theofficialoxstu @theoxstu


Comment - p. 8

Identity - p. 14

Features - p. 19

Food & Drink - p. 24

SciTech - p. 27

Sport - p. 31

The Oxford University Student Union has severed ties with the Oxford Union. 78% of voters were in favour.

The motion for financial independence means that the Union will no longer have a stall at Oxford’s annual freshers’ fair. The Union made over a third of its annual income from its membership drive in freshers’ week last year, according to draft accounts seen by The Oxford Student.

The motion was proposed by Vice-President for Access and Academic Affairs Jade Calder and seconded by the former cochair of the SU LGBTQ+ Campaign Clay Nash. It will “cease any and all commercial and financial relationships between the Oxford Union and SU until at least the mandate expires in three years.”

This will most critically impact the Oxford Union during their Michaelmas Term membership drive, as they will no

News - p. 3

Union finances jeopardised after SU boycott

Profile - p. 12

Columns - p. 16

Culture - p. 22

Green - p. 26

OxYou - p. 30

longer be able to purchase rights to a commercial stall at the freshers fair, as they have done in the past.

In draft accounts seen by The Oxford Student, the Oxford Union made just under £600,000 from new memberships last year, accounting for a significant proportion of their annual income.

The motion states that the Oxford Union has had a history of documented “bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination and data privacy breaches which affect students.” It also explains that “unlike many student societies, there is no external body to regulate or hold the Union accountable for its actions.”

The motion added that “the SU has a duty to take necessary actions to safeguard all members of the Oxford student community” and much of what the Union does is “antithetical to the SU’s commitment to access”.

This comes following rising

tensions between the Oxford SU and Oxford Union.

In Trinity Term 2022, a motion came to Oxford SU’s student council regarding a conflict of interest. That motion stipulated that those running for a position in the SU must ‘declare to the Returning Officer any roles within any relevant organisations to which they were elected or appointed since their matriculation’.

Further to this, sitting Sabbatical Trustees now “must publicly declare any current roles within any relevant organisations as well as any new roles they take on”.

In Michaelmas Term 2022, the Oxford Union passed a motion on “Independence from the SU”. This added a new subclause which prohibited members from nominating themselves for a position which was Standing Committee or higher if they would be serving as a Sabbatical Officer of Oxford SU simultaneously.

It also added clauses to bar exOfficers from exercising their vote on the Standing Committee if they are simultaneously serving as a Sabbatical Officer of Oxford SU and if someone becomes a Sabbatical Officer would be deemed to have resigned at the time of this election.

This was highly controversial at the time, with one governing body member saying, “It seems

President-Elect would bring this motion given he is actively working with the SU in hosting the annual Freshers’ Fair stall and raising thousands of pounds for the membership drive.In fact, there are Union governing body members who sit on Student Council and make high level decisions within the SU, so it seems malicious to restrict the contrary. He clearly intends on targeting certain individuals and carries a political vendetta. ”

Ties with the Union have previously been curtailed by other student body organisations.

In 2019, Wadham SU passed a motion calling for “Boycott the Oxford Union Campaign” which was supported by Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East & SU President 1999-2000.

In a comment to Cherwell, The Oxford Union stated: “The Union offers unique opportunities to its members, which range from meeting world leaders, to partaking in our debates, and joining us in our social events. The University’s compliance policy indicates that ‘free speech is the lifeblood of a university’, a principle that is upheld by the Oxford Union. It is unfortunate that many of the claims made on the motion are not factually accurate, and merely represent the views of a minority of the student body.”

The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023 NEWS News | 3 @TheOxStu The Oxford Student Illustration: Jonas Muschalski
Rose Henderson

The Oxford Union’s agreement with Saudi think tank

Cont. from page 1

Presidency, but The Oxford Union and Charlie Mackintosh have confirmed to us that it was at Charlie Mackintosh’s behest that Michael Li explored a potential relationship with the FII. If any agreement was signed on The Oxford Union’s behalf, it should have been done so by the President and passed through The Standing Committee. Yet it was not passed through The Standing Committee, nor was Ahmad Nawaz made aware that any agreement had been signed.

The Oxford Union refused to comment on whether they were concerned about the potential for the FII to try and influence the discussion at The Oxford Union, instead simply telling us that no agreement had been signed.

A Union Spokesperson said, “The Oxford Union does not have an agreement with the FII Institute. The MT22 President-Elect did explore the opportunity for collaborations during his term with multiple organisations, including the FII. No agreements were reached and the Oxford Union has contacted the FII to request amendments to their press releases, which they have agreed to make.”

BREAKING: Oxford Trans Pride coalition to protest Kathleen Stock

The second panel will be titled “Trans+ Joy Across Generations” and will feature speakers discussing what the concept of trans+ joy means to them.

The panels will be followed by a protest at Bonn Square at 4pm, where the coalition will protest for trans rights and show support for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The group will then march to the Oxford Union at 4:40pm and hold a vocal festival centred around the “joy, power and visibility” of trans, nonbinary, gender non-conforming and intersex people, with music, drag queens, dancing, and what the group has termed “colourful, unavoidable visibility.”

other personal details were also shared on the Twitter thread, which led to a higher number of threats.

Soon after Stock retweeted the statement, the society’s committee, which had been newly inducted, removed ‘Meet the Committee’ posts from social media for fear of retribution.

In a Standing Committee meeting at the Union, Union President Matthew Dick was asked about the surge of threatening messages towards the LGBTQ society. Dick responded, “I don’t feel a responsibility with regard to any wider thing”, while also repeatedly stating that he “[was not] going to rescind the invitation.”

Anew major trans pride coalition of over 100 community activists and ten local organisations will come together to protest Kathleen Stock’s invitation to speak at the Oxford Union on the 30th May, The Oxford Student can reveal.

Oxford Trans+ Pride will be “a vocal protest for trans rights in which all of the city’s LGBTQ+ community and its allies will come together to stand in solidarity with our trans siblings who are under attack”. The event’s date coincides with notable gendercritical feminist Stock’s appearance.

Oxford Trans+ Pride has

been organised by a large group of volunteers and funded by the Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society, the University’s largest student society. The event will be supported by a plethora of significant organisations, including the Student Union’s LGBT+ Campaign, the local LGBT+ pub The Jolly Farmers, and Oxford Against Conversion Therapy.

The Pride will begin in Lincoln College at 2pm, with two panels consisting of trans, nonbinary, gender non-conforming and intersex speakers.

The first panel will be titled “Between Free Speech and Hate Speech”, and will discuss the potential issues of platforming what the group calls “hateful” speakers.

The decision to launch Oxford Trans+ Pride follows a controversial decision by the Oxford Union to invite Stock to speak on the 30th of May on trans rights.

The Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society tweeted a statement following the invitation, which was retweeted by Stock herself, alleging defamation. This led to over a million views of the statement on Twitter, with thousands of hateful comments being directed towards members of the society.

Reporting by the Telegraph highlighted personal details and political views of the society’s President and Vice President, Addi Haran Diman and Zoë-Rose Guy. Diman’s phone number and

Diman said, “[a]t a time when trans people in Oxford are under unprecedented and alarming attacks by a national movement of transphobes and trans-exclusionary radicals, we must come together to cherish trans power and celebrate trans joy. There is nothing more powerful, and nothing that transphobic propagandists hate more, than this kind of visibility.”

In comments made to The Oxford Student, Diman also revealed that they are “planning on bringing together all LGBTQ societies in a new ‘Oxford Queer Network’ which will help all [LGBTQ+] societies to get more funding, and will help publicize societies which Oxford students might not have heard of.”

Societies respond to Singapore man’s death penalty for drugs charges

Two student societies affiliated with the University of Oxford organised a public vigil to commemorate the life of a man who received the death penalty in Singapore on drugs charges, as well as others persecuted using capital punishment.

On 26th April, Singapore hanged Tangaraju Suppiah for “conspiracy to traffic” around 1kg of cannabis from Malaysia to Singapore in 2013.

The country’s stringent drug laws have resulted in 11 people being put to death on drugs charges in the last year. This happened even as campaigners continue to argue that they are not subject to fair trials or legal representation.

The UN’s Human Rights Office also called on Singapore to “urgently reconsider” the execution, arguing that the death penalty violated international norms.

Oxford Tamil Society (@oxfordtamils) stated that Suppiah had “never seen or touched” the cannabis he was convicted of smuggling, and that the case breaches international human rights treaties. They also noted that Suppiah did not have access to a Tamil translator when he was interrogated.

Oxford University Amnesty International and Oxford Tamil Society joined together to organise the vigil, which took place at the Radcliffe Camera.

“They Killed Him” QR code posters have also been placed across various locations in Oxford to raise awareness of injustice in Singapore, and the continued persecution of Tamils globally.

The Society commented further: “Oxford Tamil Society asks why poor people trapped in a cycle of structural abuse are punished by death, but alleged war criminals evade justice”. They emphasised that the diaspora “celebrate our pan-Tamil identity” at this time.

The ‘war criminal’ that the society has referred to is the former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa into the country.

The former president fled from his own country due to national uprisings. Rajapaksa was accused of committing war crimes against the Tamil people.The ‘war criminal’ that the society has referred to is the former Sri Lankan presi-

dent Gotabaya Rajapaksa into the country.

The former president fled from his own country due to national uprisings. Rajapaksa was accused of committing war crimes against the Tamil people.

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student 4 | News

Oxford reacts to King Charles’ coronation

-in Taxation at Christ Church, found the “post-ceremony celebrations” a highlight of the coronation broadcast.

For US tourists Paul and Sheryl Shakeshaft, the best moment of the screening was when King Charles III received his crown. “The setting was also a perfect place to watch the ceremony,” Sheryl Shakeshaft added.

Revd Jane Chaffey, Chaplain and Fellowship Group Tutor of Wycliffe Hall and wife of the Archdeacon of Oxford and Residentiary Canon of Christ Church Jonathan Chaffey, found the coronation ceremony “very moving”. “It was wonderful to be able to watch it here in Christ Church and feel that you were almost part of the actual ceremony in Westminster,” she said.

Anti-monarchy protest in downtown Oxford

Many came out to voice their disapproval of the coronation during King Charles’s coronation ceremony in spite of the rain. An anti-royal protest was organised by the activist group No More Royals on Broad Street. Called an ‘antimonarchy street party’, the event included live music, speeches, and food and drink.

An attendee of the protest called the coronation a “high profile example of how we struggle to have an intelligent or imaginative conversation in this country about power” and said that they disliked the “stifling conformity” of past royal events such as Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee last year.

A participant in the protest said that the coronation was “completely unnecessary” and “anti-democratic”, calling the royal family “dismissive of society in general”. They said they would be “very surprised” if the media made much fuss about the coronation protests because of the “power of the establishment and what they will do to keep the status quo”.

They also said that recent government legislation limiting the right to protest was creating a “very worrying situation” for protesters. Graham Smith, CEO of antimonarchist campaign group Republic, was arrested in

Trafalgar Square before the coronation began.

One of the organisers of the Broad Street protest commented on the backlash that No More Royals and other groups have faced for their coronation protests. They said that they were “degraded and patronised” by prominent conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn and have faced “consistent social media hate”.

However, they said that they believe the pushback to come from a “very small and very angry minority”.

They also mentioned a serious incident that took place outside Trinity College. Two Trinity students had reportedly shouted verbal abuse at protesters, spit at them, and allegedly drew a knife. They have reported the situation to the College and the police.

A leaflet for the protest highlighted some of the reasons No More Royals want to remove the monarchy: its participation in and continued benefitting from imperialism and colonialism; its entitlement to a “long list of unjust privileges”; and the UK’s head of state leading a church that does not allow same-sex marriage.

Oxford’s colleges have had a difficult historic relationship with the crown. In the 17th century, Magdalen College moved from being a royalist stronghold in the Civil War to the epicentre of James II’s deposition forty years later. A dispute between the fellows and the king as to who had the right to appoint the college’s president spiralled rapidly, in tandem with other controversies, to become the key to the Glorious Revolution.

Coronation mini beer festival at St Aldates Tavern

Pubs around Oxford are celebrating King Charles’s coronation in their own ways.

St Aldates Tavern hosted a beer festival on the day of the coronation following an open mic event on Friday and a live coronation screening on Saturday

Free sandwiches using the coronation chicken spread created for Elizabeth II’s coronation were served throughout the beer festival,

attracting a large number of customers.

The beer festival featured Renegade beers, XT’s coronation beer with a special logo, and new varieties of Lilley’s Cider. “The Renegade is received very well,” Klaudia Sosnowska, general manager of St Aldates Tavern, told The Oxford Student. “People [also] love XT’s “Animal” line – every two weeks, they feature a different animal, so it’s very interesting to have them on a tap.”

“The locals are just a few miles away from us. And overall, people really like drinking beer in England, so it’s going well,” Sosnowska added. She also stated that although the ciders are not doing very well, she thinks they are “probably drinks for a better weather”.

Stephen Dockery, father of a student at St Edmund’s Hall from Birmingham, savoured the XT coronation beer and said that it was “just the way I like to drink”. He called the drink the drink “really hoppy and fruity, and it’s just the right temperature”.

Future coronation events organised by the Tavern include the serving of coronation Eton mess on Sunday and a pop quiz at the end of the bank holiday.

Shu Lo, a tourist from Taiwan, told The Oxford Student that she has not and probably will not attend any coronation-related events. Despite only visiting the UK for a short time, Lo thinks “King Charles will do the best he can” as a new king.

Tourists Nigel Bonson and Clare Bonson both believe that King Charles will be a good king. “We watched eve-

ry detail of the coronation ceremony all morning, and tomorrow we’re going to the coronation concert in Windsor Castle,” Clare Bonson said regarding their celebration plans.

Oxford University members’ contributions to the coronation

Lady Elish Angiolini KC, the Principal of St Hugh’s College, served a prominent position in King Charles’s coronation, acknowledging her years of public service. She is a lawyer who has held prestigious positions as Solicitor General for Scotland and Lord Advocate of the Scottish Government.

Her ceremonial position was part of the act of Recognition of His Majesty, at the beginning of the order of service at Westminster Abbey. By speaking the words “I here present unto you King Charles, your undoubted King”, she took part in presenting the King to the congregation.

She was joined in this presentation by the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Cross recipient Christopher Finney, and Labour life peer Baroness Amos.

Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, former Principal of Mansfield College, also performed a role in the coronation. She accompanied Queen Camilla to the altar, carrying The Queen Consort’s Rod.

Baroness Kennedy is also a lawyer promoting civil liberties and human rights in the system as well as driving the establishment of Oxford’s Bonavero Institute of Human Rights.

Pembroke College alumnus and Honorary Fellow Tarik O’Regan composed “Agnus Dei”, one of the choral pieces recited during the ceremony. O’Regan has received two Grammy nominations and two British Composer Awards for his compositions throughout his career.

Councillor James Fry’s coronation regrets

The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor James Fry, expressed “regret” that the Lord Mayor’s traditional role as assistant butler at the coronation was not upheld for this year’s ceremony.

He said that “the vital work of local government in Oxford and elsewhere should be acknowledged and traditions like a role at the Coronation demonstrate this”.

The tradition is thought to date back to the tenth century. It originally involved helping to put the monarch’s shoes on and often resulted in a knighthood for whichever Lord Mayor performed the duty. In 2022 Fry was enthusiastic about possibly participating but doubted he would be “called upon to do any ‘buttling’”.

Despite his regret, Fry emphasised the importance of holding coronation celebrations. “The street parties offer our city’s diverse communities an opportunity to celebrate,” he said in a previous Yahoo! article on Oxford coronation street parties.

“I hope that neighbours will enjoy this chance to come together and mark this once in a generation occasion,” he added.

The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023 News | 5
Charlie Bowden, Canqi Li, Daisy Outram OxStu News Team Cont. from page 1

Oxford reacts to Labour reversing tuition fees campaign promise

Sir Keir Starmer has announced that the Labour Party is set to “move on” from his plan to abolish tuition fees in England.

The potential future Prime Minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that, although the current fees of up to £9,250 per year were “unfair”, the “financial situation” made it impossible to drop them entirely.

The decision came following a report by the Sutton Trust, which revealed that almost half of undergraduate students had missed lectures or deadlines to undertake paid work.

Living costs have continued to rise in Oxford, with many students claiming that their colleges will be raising accommodation and meal fees significantly this coming academic year. Last October, University College was criticised

after refusing to turn its heating on, even as temperatures hit -1 degrees Celsius.

During his Labour leadership campaign in 2020, Sir Keir followed his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, by including the removal of tuition fees in his ten pledges. The Conservative government decided in March 2023 to raise student loan repayments, claiming that the new system would be fairer.

Alex Boardman, president of Mansfield College JCR, commented: “In choosing to abandon his commitment to abolish tuition fees, Starmer has chosen to entrench intergenerational inequality.

“It feels like Starmer must know that the system is the worst of all worlds – universities are under-resourced and students are crippled with debt – but that he lacks the political guts to actually chal -

lenge it. Yet again, politicians are throwing students under the bus.”

Ali Khosravi, co-chair of Oxford University Labour Club, commented: “We will have to wait and see what we will be in the next manifesto and we can only imagine what a fiscal mess the next Labour government and Rachel Reeves in the Treasury will inherit if elected in 2024.

“But given that the current tuition fee model is broken, we would strongly urge the leadership to prioritise reforming funding for higher education in a way that is fairer at the earliest possible opportunity.

“The current model is essentially a regressive graduate tax which punishes those from low-income backgrounds who will have to take on more debt and those who

choose not to go into highpaying corporate careers and will have to pay back their student debts for longer at a punishing rate of interest.”

The Student Union’s VP for Access and Academic Affairs, Jade Calder, added: “The SU has long opposed tuition fees, and continuously advocates about rises in fees at University meetings. Therefore, it is

disappointing that a major political party also no longer believes in the right to free access to higher education.=

“I can only worry what impact this policy change could have on future first generation and low-income students who might be dissuaded from experiencing an enriching university experience.”

Oxford MP urges Network Rail to deal with Botley Road closure’s ‘serious safety concerns’

Layla Moran has written to Network Rail over the “serious safety concerns” of her constituents regarding the closure of Botley Road.

Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, wrote to Network Rail executives on 20th April stating that “much more needs to be done” to make road travel safer and easier in light of the closure.

Botley Road was closed to all traffic except emergency services on 11th April and will remain shut until 31st October. This is to allow utilities and infrastructure around the Botley Road bridge to be diverted in preparation for the bridge’s replacement in


Network Rail advised motorists that use Botley Road to enter Oxford to make use of the city’s Park and Ride sites, or enter the city centre using public transport. Moran’s constituents, however, have found that guidance insufficient.

In her letter to Network Rail, Moran stressed that the westbound bus stop on Botley Road is a “disaster” and “completely inadequate” for the large numbers of people who use it due to the road closure. Moran stated that in busier times, residents were forced to step into the road to move past the crowds of people waiting at the bus stop.

A special ‘Botley Flyer’ service for disabled bus passengers has been implemented by Network Rail to assist their travel during the road closure. However, the service is only available three days a week from 10am to 2pm, with one service an hour. The bus is wheelchair accessible but space must be booked in advance.

Moran also noted the lack of clear signage along the road directing motorists towards alternate routes before they reach the Botley Road bridge and have to turn away. She also argued that the traffic marshals posted at either end of the bridge are “too far from the tunnel” to effectively

prevent confusion from motorists and assist pedestrians trying to cross underneath.

Moran further stated that residents across her constituency had told her that they felt “completely abandoned and stranded” by the road closure. She urged Network Rail to write to all local residents explaining their options for travel into central Oxford.

The closure has already resulted in numerous traffic delays, and local business owners have complained that their operations have been affected. A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council commented that they would “continue to assess the situation over a number of days and weeks”, stating that the increased volume of traffic was due to schools returning from Easter break.

The county council also tweeted on 14th April that they are “keen to remind people” that businesses along Botley Road and Osney Mead remain open. However some business owners stated that they would prefer if there were signs present indicating this to people using the road.

Network Rail’s letter in response to Moran’s concerns stated that a review of signage and the positioning of marshals during the closure

was being undertaken and their community relations team would be writing to residents as soon as possible. They also agreed to hold a summit with Moran to discuss the issues of the closure further.

In light of Moran’s letter and complaints from local residents, a spokesperson for Network Rail stated that said in a statement that they “welcome feedback on the Botley Road closure and will seek to make any necessary adjustments to how the closure is managed following comments from Layla Moran MP and the local community over the past few weeks since the road has been closed at the railway bridge”.

These criticisms come after Andrew Gant, a Liberal Democrat member of Oxfordshire County Council with responsibility for highway management, said the measures put in place by Network Rail were “working really well” after visiting the site on 12th April.

It remains to be seen whether Network Rail’s promises of improvement will make the closure less obstructive for the local community.

Image credit: Network Rail.

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student 6 | News

Watson to study at Oxford next academic year

‘I don’t want to be bleak, I want to be realistic’: Union debates reform in Iran

In the first debate of Trinity term, the Oxford Union debated the motion “This House Believes That the Islamic Republic of Iran Can Reform”.

Speakers for the proposition included two current Oxford students, alongside Dr Vahid Nick Pay, who lectures in International Politics at Oxford.

The opposition speakers, Rana Rahimpour, John Limbert, and Professor Ali Ansari, are well-versed in the complexities of Iranian politics. Limbert, a former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran, was even held captive for over a year in the country after the U.S Embassy was captured by Iranian students in 1979.

ity police for wearing a hijab incorrectly, and for wearing tight trousers.

The protests, led primarily by women, saw them cutting their hair and removing their hijabs, and soon evolved into a revolutionary movement calling for the overthrow of the regime.

Proposition speaker Mikaeel Toosy highlighted these feminist protests under the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom”. He proposed this heightened unrest can force a “restructuring of government”, holding that his hope for reform is “not in vain”.

Emma Watson is to start an MA in creative writing at the University of Oxford in September.

In a recent Financial Times interview, the Harry Potter star also revealed that she began writing poetry and a series of essays on love, friendship, and relationships during lockdown.

Watson studied English Literature at Brown University where she came to Oxford on a junior year abroad (JYA) at Worcester College. She graduated in 2014.

Watson has long standing links to Oxford, having moved to Oxfordshire when she was 5. She attended the Dragon School, where fees are currently more than £11,000 per term, and Headington School where she took her GCSEs and A levels.

In 2016, her privacy was allegedly breached when a student took a photo of her on a visit to LMH, where she was reportedly discussing becoming a visiting fellow of the college.

Other famous names due to join Oxford in September include Ruby Granger, the studytuber, who will be studying for an MA in English literature.

Image credits: (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The debate comes after the Crown Prince of Iran spoke at the Union in March, filling the streets of Oxford with supporters as he appealed to the West for support in his harshly critical view of Iran’s Islamic Republic government.

The term card’s description of the debate describes how, after the fall of the monarchy in 1979 and the subsequent rise of a theological government ruled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “opposition to the Iranian regime has never been more visible”.

Protests have raged in the country for over six months, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She was allegedly beaten to death in September by the country’s religious moral-

On the opposition, Rahimpour is a BBC journalist who has covered major international developments, following the story of the Iranian regime.

In the debate, her commitment that “I don’t want to be bleak, I want to be realistic” highlighted her pragmatic stance. Holding hostility to the West and sharia law as key obstacles to change, she said there is “still a long way to go”.

Ansari is the founding director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews, also holding a Professorship in Modern History with reference to the Middle East there.

In his remarks, Ansari called the Iranian government an “exercise in perpetual crisis management”, arguing that the proposition of reform was “unlikely if not impossible”. He also called the government “politically and

morally corrupt”. His belief that hope for reform has reached its “ideological rigor mortis” reflected the history of protest being brutally crushed by the regime. He rejected what he saw as “indulgent romanticism” from the proposition.

With more optimism, Nick Pay held up Iran’s constitution originally following a “very liberal style” as potential for progress, alongside Iranians communicating across borders to share values and promote a “peaceful transition to democracy”.

Floor speeches included a contribution from OULC cochair Ali Khosravi. His opposition argument called the proposition a “brave argument” in the face of a strawman position promoting Western intervention, instead favouring funding internal Iranian action.

Oxford Union Treasurer Rosie Jacobs spoke for the proposition, favouring reform over revolution as the regime would first need to be desta-

Fintech entrepeneur boosts Black Academic Futures

Fintech entrepreneur Valerie Moran has donated funds to create two fully funded scholarships for Black British postgraduate students through the Black Academic Futures program in the University of Oxford.

The initiative, which launched last year, aims to tackle the under-representation of Black students at the University of Oxford.

While the program provided 13 scholarships in its first year, it is now expanding to offer up to 30 full scholarships annually to UK Black British and Mixed Black graduate students, thanks in part to philanthropic support from individuals like Moran.

Originally from Zimbabwe, Moran co-founded fintech

firm Prepaid Financial Services with her husband Noel Moran after moving to London in 2004 to pursue a career in technology.

Her philanthropy supports future generations by ensuring that ethnic minority students are given every opportunity to apply and compete for job opportunities.

The Oxford-Moran Scholarships, which will be available to eligible students across all subject areas at all Oxford colleges, will cover course fees,living costs, and provide on-course mentoring and support for recipients. The first scholars are expected to begin their studies in the 2023/24 academic year.

The Black Academic Futures program was developed in

response to the underrepresentation of Black UK graduate research students at Oxford. In the 2020/21 academic year, only 1.5% of UK-domiciled Black students were postgraduate research students at Oxford, compared to 4.8% across the UK higher education sector.

The program’s goal is to increase applications from and funded places for well-qualified UK Black graduate students.

In the 2021/22 academic year, applications from UKdomiciled Black applicants for full-time postgraduate research degrees increased by 27%, with an overall uplift of 24% for full-time postgraduate research degrees from UK-domiciled Black and

bilised for any change.

Closing the proposition, Chris Collins held up the debate itself as showing the “prize and precious thing” those deprived of free speech in Iran lack. He concluded that change will come from the Iranian people.

In the final opposition speech, Limbert responded to the motion that “what I would like and what can happen are two different things”. The pessimism for reform was clear in his statement that change would always be held back because those in power see reform as “an existential threat”.

In comments to The Oxford Student, Mikaeel Toosy, a member of the Secretary’s Committee, stated: “I’m incredibly proud to have helped put together a debate spotlighting the discrimination towards women and Sunni Muslims in Iran and how this can improve.”

Mixed Black applicants. The program is part of the University’s efforts to raise the number of postgraduate students from under-represented groups, reinforcing the University’s commitment to addressing race equality, combating discrimination, and building an inclusive postgraduate community.

Moran said: “As a Black female entrepreneur my focus with all my companies was to hire staff on merit. I therefore understand that ethnic minority students need support from people like myself to ensure that future generations are given every opportunity to apply and compete for the same job opportunities.”

The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023 News | 7
Eleanor Luxton News Editor
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The Case

For and Against

Abolishing the Monarchy

In Favour of the Monarchy’s Abolition

When Charles I was beheaded in 1649, a fundamental tenet in his belief, and in the belief of his supporters, as to why he should be King was the view that the English monarch was divinely appointed by God. Ultimately, when the monarchy was restored in 1688, the exposition of the divine right of Kings to rule died out – there was an appreciation that with the advancement of science, such an argument was less persuasive. However, although our current monarchs no longer rule us –instead holding a symbolic role of superiority – this notion that some are ‘divinely’ appointed to stand above the rest of us ‘common folk’ remains an underlying basis for the continued reign of the British Royal Family.

In the wake of the coronation, in which the country was very nearly asked to pledge its obedience to the new King, I’m forced to confront the reality that the very concept of the monarchy – especially in the form it takes in the UK – is an afront to the principles of democracy, equality, and individual sovereignty that the UK has proudly boasted of. The UK claims to be the home of parliamentary democracy, but can it really claim to be a democracy when we have an unelected head of state? The principles of democracy argue that those governing and in positions of power should only do so with the consent of the governed. A principle that is

significantly undermined when the main signature needed to ensure a law is enacted is that of someone whose sole requirement be that they were born to the right person in the right order.

Furthermore, when we as citizens (not subjects) vote for MPs and for the government, we expect them to create legislation that applies equally to everyone, that doesn’t favour those from a particular class, creed, or race. We certainly don’t expect individuals who play key roles in our constitutional system to make use of their position to ensure that what legislation is produced is favourable specifically to their family.

Since 1967, the Queen, and now the King, has had exemptions written into over 160 different laws – the Royal household is exempt from employees of the monarch pursuing sexual or racial discrimination complaints, the monarchy is exempt from the 2010 Equality Act, police and environmental officers are banned from accessing the Royal families’ private properties without first attaining permission, the monarchy is not required to pay income or capital gains tax (not even on private interests), and the monarchy is exempt from paying inheritance tax. This is only compounded by the fact that the Royal family has the right to inspect legislation that may affect them – and request alterations – before it becomes public.

As such, we have a situation where a select group of individuals, born into their positions, are able to intervene and exempt themselves from the democratically constructed law. When those in positions of power separate from the legislative body can so freely interfere with the making of laws, can we then truly label the UK a democracy?

This point about the Royal family being exempt from multiple laws feeds into my next point. Very clearly, the monarchy is a contradiction to the belief that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. When a select group are not only unlikely to be prosecuted for a breach of the law, but have illegal acts made permissible for them by the law itself, any illusion of equality must be thrown out of the window. The mere fact that one family in this country are born not just into great wealth, but into positions of national power and importance, indicates that we are not all equal –there are some of us born with more rights. This is a direct call back to the divine right of kings that once separated the monarchy from everyone else.

It is often argued that the monarchy plays an important role in representing the UK abroad. Royal visits are seen as a way in which the UK can advance its interests by soft power – giving the Royal family a valued diplomatic role. I argue that this is mistaken. At its zenith the British Empire ruled over roughly 25% of the world’s sur-

face. It therefore seems bizarre to argue that the best way to endear the UK to other countries, especially members of the commonwealth, is by sending over the direct descendants and representatives of the individuals and institution that sanctioned and endorsed the colonisation, looting, and desecration of the nations in the first place. Proof of this can be seen in William and Kate’s trip to Jamaica in 2022. Prior to their arrival Jamaica indicated its intention to transition to a republic. Furthermore, an open letter signed by 100 Jamaican academics, politicians and cultural leaders branded the royal visitors as “direct beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated by the royal family…from the trafficking and enslavement of Africans”.

The Royal Family’s position as representatives of the UK not only harms chances at bridging diplomatic gaps, but it also contributes to a negative portrayal of the UK internationally. When the scandal over Prince Andrew’s ties to Jeffery Epstein emerged, it directly harmed the Royal Family’s reputation. And because the monarchy is the head of state, this directly harmed the UK’s reputation as well. Similarly, issues with Prince Phillip making ‘problematic’ (racist and sexist) gaffes when abroad, and the scandal over Charles’ affair with the now Queen Camilla, further harm the reputation of our country. In this way the monarchy’s position as repre-

sentatives and figure heads is a large negative for the interests of us all.

So what’s the alternative?

Many argue that were the position of head of state to be elected, it would bring in a political element and constitutional crisis that the current system avoids. This view is premised on a mistaken assumption of the monarchy’s apolitical nature though. When the Royal Family’s net worth is estimated to run into the billions, when the entire family was born into luxury and wealth, and when they are predominantly white and upper class, they cannot help but represent traditional, conservative values, the status quo, and the advancement of the wealthy.

By contrast, a duly elected head of state with the same duties and removed stance from the levers of power would act merely as some kind of ‘chief diplomat’. An individual who could be relied upon to perform just their duties and could be unelected at the end of their term or at the arrival of scandals of the like that are becoming common with the Royal Family.

To conclude, if we truly value democracy, if we care about the reputation of the UK, and if we believe in the equality of all –then we have no option but to oppose the monarchy.

Deputy Editor: Tara Earley
Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student 8 | Comment

Slavery and the British throne In Defence of the Monarchy

Not to be served, but to serve. Those were the words that we heard repeated over and over again throughout the coronation on Saturday. Although the coronation brings to mind a monarch in a golden carriage, waving to adoring crowds, at its core, Britain’s monarchy is not about taking but about giving.

As much as royal duties may seem like the family repeatedly setting off around the world, tooting their own horns, the reality is very different. Royals do not make up their calendars as they please, but accept the invitations of the hundreds of organisations that desire and value their presence. Republicans might think the respect that the British people have for the Royal Family is misplaced and unhealthy. The suggestion here is that republicans know what’s best for the British public, better than the British public themselves. This patronising attitude mirrors the paternalistic ethos which republicans so often rail against when protesting the monarchy.

As Stephen Fry points out, the monarchy can have a positive effect on government. The Prime Minister must meet the monarch on a weekly basis, discussing national affairs and explaining their decisions. Regularly meeting with a figure who symbolises the British people is a check on the Prime Minister’s ego and a disincentive against corruption. Note that most of Boris Johnson’s most outrageous scandals occurred during the 15 months wherein COVID prevented his meeting the Queen. Without a monarchy, would our leaders go even further off the rails? Of course, at elections the people can punish bad government. But elections happen only twice a decade, while the King meets with the Prime Minister every week to hear of their work. Patriotism might be stirring to some, but surely meeting with an embodied monarch inspires more fear than a mythic ‘King Arthur’. Do we really imagine that Donald Trump, for example, feels a sense of duty towards Uncle Sam? A Prime Minister without a King is like an Oxford student without a tutor. And usually a PPE student at that!

The personal effect on the Prime Minister is clearly not the

only political benefit monarchy brings. As I have written for the Oxford student previously, the Royal Family provides Britain with a national icon that it can honour and trust, without the toxic effects of giving a politician such power. I doubt I need to give examples of cults of personality leading to political overreach and disaster. A monarchy is a guard against popular politicians going too far. By contrast, the idea of a President Thatcher or a President Blair is not a comforting one. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, half of the world’s twenty most democratic states are monarchies, and monarchies regularly score highly on Transparency International’s absence of corruption index.

Despite regular complaints of ‘taking taxpayers’ money’, having a monarchy actually saves Britain money. Brand Finance estimates that the royal family generates a net surplus for Britain, costing £292M, but generating £1.766B! Moreover, were republicans to have their way, even if we didn’t add presidential campaigns to our election cycle, campaigns would certainly become more personalised and expensive. On top of those recurring costs, there would be an incredibly complicated and expensive process of untangling the Royal Family from the British political system, the two being intimately intertwined. The opening of parliament, the investing of power in the Prime Minister, the process by which bills become law, the welcoming of foreign diplomats to Britain, the management of Crown properties, and the symbols on various government services would all need to be reformed or replaced, to name but a few aspects of the process.

The most important part of a republican Britain, however, would be the codification and entrenchment of a British constitution. Britain’s political system currently functions on the basis of convention, and its structure puts the politically neutral monarch at its head. Therefore, the removal of the monarchy would need to be accompanied by the creation of a new constitution, as the duties of the head of state are vested elsewhere. Firstly, this process

is likely to provoke the wrath of parliament: enshrining a certain set of laws as foundational and unchangeable could easily be considered a threat to ‘parliamentary supremacy’. Secondly, the process would naturally become very partisan very quickly. Britain took nearly four years to negotiate Brexit with the EU, formalising rules about one part of its foreign policy. Imagine how long Britain would take, and how difficult it would be, to negotiate the rules of the entire political system. And remember we’re talking about a negotiation not between two trading partners, but between two bitterly opposed political parties. The exact nature of various political processes, including the selection of the Prime Minister, the calling together and dissolution of parliament, and the relation of the Supreme Court and other institutions to parliament, would all need to be hashed out.

Do we really imagine that Donald Trump, for example, feels a sense of duty towards Uncle Sam? A Prime Minister without a King is like an Oxford student without a tutor.

Of course, none of these positive effects are simply institutional. The Kings and Queens that have served Britain are not mere figureheads with no substance - they are real people with real personalities, and of course, they must come with real flaws. I do not want to pretend that King Charles, or past monarchs for that matter, are without sin. However, the monarchy has been able to recognise its role in the mistakes of Britain’s past, with King Charles supporting research into the connection monarchy has had to slavery, calling it “the most painful period of our history”. And as Britain steps into the future, it is led by a King who has been ahead of his time in climate advocacy, showing that the monarchy can have a positive influence despite being above politics.

As Charles III is officially coronated the King of England, media attention has, once again, been focused on the royal family and its role in our ever-evolving world. Coincidentally, perhaps, recent research into the archives done by writer and researcher Desirée Baptiste while collecting material for a play she is writing has found that King Charles’s direct ancestor, Edward Porteus (16431696), was a tobacco plantation owner in Gloucester County, Virginia, active in the contemporary slave trade. The revelation sparked a new wave in an age-old debate: should those, particularly those of prominence like the royalty, apologise for their ancestors’, and indeed Britain’s, role in slavery and other tragedies of history?

Britain, as with any other country that was involved in the transatlantic slave trade, has a troubled relationship with that aspect of its history, and understandably so. In the politically volatile present, the statues of British historical icons such as Horatio Nelson and Francis Drake, once so revered for their heroism in cementing the prestige of the British Empire, are now being attacked (quite literally) for precisely the same reason. In 2019, students at Goldsmiths, University of London, protested in front of the university-owned Deptford Town Hall in a bid to get statues of Admiral Horatio Nelson and Sir Francis Drake taken down for their statuses as slave owners and traders. The protest was soon followed up by postal and online surveys sent by the university to some 8,500 local residents. Although both surveys found a majority against the removal of the statues (58% in the postal survey and 85% in the online survey), the effort clearly forecasts a bleak future for the monuments of historical figures involved in slavery. Closer to home, perhaps, a statue of Cecil Rhodes stands proudly atop the main gate of Oriel College, and despite extensive student protest, there he still stands.

More narrowly, while much of the world was busy remembering the legacy of Queen Elizabeth II after her passing in September of last year, one

Carnegie Mellon professor of applied linguistics, Uju Anya, tweeted (which has since been deleted by Twitter) wishing the queen “an excruciating death” for her role as, Anya states, the “chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire”. Immediately, the tweet polarised the internet, with many condemning Anya’s statement. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, expressed his disappointment (to say the least) at the statement by replying: “This is someone supposedly working to make the world better?

I don’t think so. Wow.” On the other hand, hundreds of students at Carnegie Mellon rallied in support of Anya, with many citing the foundational principles of freedom of expression and a right to freedom of speech and safety; values embedded into the fabric of much of modern society. While it seems that the royal family did not issue a response, the widespread attention gained by Anya and the movement that she is championing is indicative of an increasingly popular antimonarchism.

This is the climate within which Charles III takes the throne. And beyond facing a growing and increasingly overt anti-monarchical wave and a dismantling of much of Britain’s history, he faces a personal dilemma: while he didn’t personally commit the atrocities of slavery and such, he is the latest in a long line to sit in the very throne of the monarchs of old who endorsed and supported them.

King Charles isn’t the only one facing the legacy of his ancestors. In February, ex-BBC journalist Laura Trevelyan went to Grenada to read out a formal apology on behalf of her family to the islanders descended from enslaved people and announced a £100,000 education fund from her own savings as penance for her family’s role in enslaving at least a thousand people on the Caribbean island. Following the statement, Trevelyan, on behalf of other British families with ties to slavery, told the Times of London: “We’ve apologized—why can’t the King? Reckoning is coming.”

While neither the king nor Buckingham Palace have apologised as Trevelyan and so many

Comment | 9 The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023

others wish, both King Charles and Prince William have expressed their “profound sorrow” at the atrocities of slavery, and recently, the king has announced that he will cooperate with a study of the British monarchy’s historical links with transatlantic slavery. Yet, despite all of the expressions of regret, the royal family seems to refuse to directly speak the words of apology.

Of course, it would be inaccurate and incorrect to flagrantly condemn the current monarch to the depths of hell as they did not themselves engage in slave trading and owning as their ancestors centuries ago did. But Charles III isn’t simply an average person. Beyond himself, he is the embodiment of the British monarchy, an entity much greater than any one monarch. And as the current representative of the monarchy, any statement Charles makes as the King should perhaps be taken not only as his words, but on behalf of the monarchy.

To many, slavery may seem like a tragedy of the past, and repeated discussions about it simply picking at its scabs, preventing its healing. However, while the royally-endorsed, institutionalised slave trade of the Tudors, Stuarts, and Hanovers might be dismantled, racism and modern versions of slavery are occurring on a greater-than-ever scale, and the royal family are still embroiled in allegations of it. In November, Lady Susan Hussey, a lady-in-waiting to Camilla, the Queen Consort, resigned after reports of her ignorantly asking Ngozi Fulani, the founder of the charity Sistah Space, where she “really came from” at an event at Buckingham Palace. Hussey’s incident hints at a continued fundamental belief in the binary definitions of “them” and “us”, an implicit binarization which many critics of the monarchy have cited in their calls for the abolition of monarchism.

Perhaps it is quite simple: the king should apologise. But, it is paradoxically not that easy. Should there ever be an official apology, it should not be taken as a reflection of the king’s admission of personal guilt or participation in the atrocities of slavery, but as the most genuine acknowledgement by the current British monarch to the actions of the long line of monarchs that came before him. Regardless of wordplay, though, acknowledgements and apologies are not only a nod to the past, but to a future – a future striving for growth.

Do we really want octogenarian presidents?

At a rally in Texas during the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary, candidate Joe Biden attempted to quote the US Declaration of Independence. Needless to say, he sort of made a hash of it: “We hold these truths to be selfevident. All men and women created by the, go- you know the… you know the thing.”

At the time, some commentators saw this as a clear sign of a cognitive decline. It was part of a long series of political gaffes that occurred during the campaign. Still, it did not seem to affect his political ambitions. The next day Biden completed his astonishing comeback in the Democratic primary, winning 10 of the 14 states up for grabs on ‘Super Tuesday’, having performed very poorly in some of the earlier primary contests.

Concerns about cognitive ability were reinforced by Biden’s age during the campaign. Election as President made him 78 years and 61 days old on inauguration day; the oldest in American history. It was widely reported at the time that Biden would only seek a single term in office, his purpose being to beat Trump before handing over to a new generation of Democrats. Ultimately, that is not what happened. In a video released in April of this year, Biden announced that he would be seeking re-election as President. This would mean he could serve a second term entirely in his 80s, being 86 when he finally hands over to a successor.

is one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in the world. The holder is responsible for the wellbeing of 336 million Americans, and Commanderin-Chief of the most powerful military in human history. The President, then, needs to be an effective decision maker with lots of mental stamina. Someone who is over 15 years older than the average American retirement age may be at risk of lacking in either of these areas. According to the Simons Foundation, older people may be more likely to delegate, defer, or avoid making decisions. They could also be less likely to exhaustively search for information, and less able to recall its origin.

In 2024 America could be faced with two choices for President, both of whom may be experiencing cognitive decline.

Members of the right of American politics often like to cite Donald Trump as a spring chicken compared to Biden. This is itself laughable: Trump is one of the few American politicians who seems less mentally capable than Biden. Analysis by found that he speaks at the level of an 8-year-old: the lowest of any President since 1929. In 2024 America could be faced with two choices for President, both of whom may be experiencing cognitive decline. This is hardly a good choice for the supposed leader of the free world.

Despite importing many American concepts, Britain does not share this relationship with older politicians. The average age in the House of Commons has remained around 50 for decades. Similarly, frontline politics is not dominated by older leaders. A politician

of comparable age to Biden is the Conservative veteran Kenneth Clarke, who was Father of the House until leaving politics in 2019, aged 79. Clarke’s last serious attempt to be Prime Minister was his run for the Tory leadership in 2005, aged 65. Further, his participation at a later age makes him an outlier in Britain. The average age of the post-Thatcher Prime Ministers upon them taking office is 49; Rishi Sunak is 38 years younger than Biden.

It is unclear why this difference exists. Perhaps the demands of Prime Minister’s Questions and Liaison committee are simply untenable at an older age, in a way that the duties of the US President are not. Maybe the British public are inherently more suspicious of older leaders, or more inclined to be concerned by a lack of mental sharpness. Whatever the reason, Britain seems to be following a more desirable path.

their ability to serve. The aforementioned leaders were not affected by this problem, and were therefore able to serve effectively; the same might not be true for Biden.

Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee by virtue of being the incumbent.

None of this is to say that older people can’t become incredible leaders, and have a hugely positive impact on politics. Nelson Mandela was elected as South Africa’s first Black president at the age of 75. Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize aged 78. Bernie Sanders continues to inspire generations of young people at age 81. Older generations can have an immense impact on the political landscape, and we are incredibly lucky to have them. It is simply the case that older leaders can also carry the risk of a cognitive decline, which could negatively impact

Opponents may argue that disqualifying Biden in the absence of good alternatives would simply allow in the likes of 44-year-old Florida Republican Ron Desantis, who has the potential to damage the country fundamentally. Desantis’ reluctance to accept the result of the 2020 election result, and his lacklustre support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, are just the tip of the iceberg of threats that his policy platform could pose. So, of course, age shouldn’t be the only issue we look at in politics. We must analyse the viability of Biden’s candidacy holistically, looking at his mental fitness for four more years, alongside his policy agenda and popularity. But age needs to at least be given some thought when Americans pick the next President. Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee by virtue of being the incumbent. Democrats would be wise to fully consider the consequences of a US President serving a full term as an octogenarian before they go full speed ahead with a rerun of 2020. Otherwise, they may find themselves in trouble, if Biden’s leadership ability is jeopardised by his advancing age. In an extremely unstable world, that is the last thing America needs.

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student 10 | Comment
President of the United States
We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women created by the, goyou know the… you know the thing.
Older generations can have an immense impact on the political landscape, and we are incredibly lucky to have them.
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of the week Profile

Jake Humphrey is a broadcaster and television presenter known for his coverage of various sporting events in Football and Formula One. He is the cohost of the High Performance podcast, through which he interviews successful individuals about their lives and careers. The Podcast is coming on tour to locations across the country, including Oxford.

What inspired you to set up the High Performance podcast?

“The inspiration probably dates back to when I was a young lad growing up. I used to think that there were successful people and then people like me. I’m from a normal house with a dad who was a charity worker and a mum who was a teacher. It was only when I failed my A Levels and stumbled into TV that people said there’s nothing special about celebrities. They’re consistent, they follow their hearts and can accept setbacks. All these

messages really resonated, and I wanted to share them, but thought that no one would listen to a guy from CBBC. I met a professor called Damian Hughes a few years back and asked if he would consider doing a podcast with me. That was the moment that created High Performance”.

What does the High Performance podcast tour look like?

“Bringing it to the stage was scary to me – I’ve spent my life talking to a TV camera, so theatres are a bit nerve-wracking! I wanted to bring all the lessons from the podcast and turn it into a stage show which has a real impact on people.”.

Sport and mental health is a hot topic at the moment, and something which you’ve discussed on the podcast. Do you think enough is being done to help sportspeople cope with fame and its effects?

“No, I definitely don’t think

there’s enough being done. All the traits that sportspeople have are the same things that could push them down the path of mental health challenges too. That desire to be the best can have a negative impact at a young age. Although there’s more conversation than ever, there’s a real risk of complacency too. I’m really lifted that we’ve had so many sportspeople on the podcast talking in such an open way about mental health”.

You recently had Jill Scott MBE on your podcast. How do you think we can encourage more girls and women to take up sport?

“It has to start at a young age and it’s a mindset for parents. We should allow our kids to explore and see what they want to do. And Jill Scott has broken down doors for young girls -if my daughter Florence was born 15 years ago and wanted to be a professional footballer, she couldn’t have been. Now

the possibilities are endless”.

What did you learn from your discussion with Sir Keir Starmer?

“The biggest thing for me is learning about people, regardless of their politics. When you talk to Sir Keir, there’s a warmth there, compassion. We live in a society where opinion is so prevalent. Let’s see what happens when we put empathy over opinion. I’d love to repeat the interview with Rishi Sunak and see what he’s like too”.

Lots of our readers, including me, remember you from your CBBC presenting days. How did that experience shape your career?

“It was amazing. I sit and watch CBBC with my kids and they’re like ‘what? You used to do that?!’. People always ask me how to make it as a journalist or broadcaster, and the great thing is that there’s more opportunities than ever

to build your brand. CBBC was the golden days – zero stress, no social media, loads of fun. But broadcasting is more exciting than ever now.”

I’m also a Norwich City fan and have to ask: what do you think about the potential of Norwich getting into the playoffs and heading back up to the Premier League? Do you think we’ve got the team for it?

“I think we’ve got the team to go up, we’ve got the quality. My big worry is: what’s the end goal? We don’t want to get beaten every week and the most important thing is having a smart, sustainable football club. That doesn’t work with the spending required in the Premier League. Weirdly, I’m more relaxed about which league we’re in. Either way, being a Norwich fan is rarely dull, is it?!”.

12 | Profile Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student
“I used to think that there were successful people and then people like me.”
Eleanor Luxton in conversation with Jake Humphrey

Katja Hoyer is a GermanBritish Historian and Author, whose latest book, Beyond the Wall: A New History of the German Democratic Republic, has recently been released to much acclaim. She has written for various publications, such as the Spectator, and wrote another book, Blood and Iron: The Rise and Fall of the German Empire, which was released in 2021. She is also a co-host of the Podcast, Tommies and Jerries, and is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at KCL.

MH: In English language historiography, East Germany seems to be a topic which hasn’t really been covered extensively. Why do you think that is?

KH: Because there’s still this post cold war image of the whole of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union being one block. And it’s often talked about as that. So to break it down into the individual states only really makes sense if you take the individual states seriously as political entities. And I think it’s been lacking so far. So there are histories, say, of the Soviet Union, for example. And then the individual states, including East Germany, tend to be treated as kind of satellites off that and are seen as part of the same story. I think that’s the reason why there isn’t much. There hasn’t been much attention on the histories of those individual states.

MH: From my experience, history is not a very popular subject in Germany. Have you noticed any changes in recent years? For instance?

KH: Yeah. I’m not sure I agree with that. I studied history in Germany, we had a cohort of, I think 500 people, which is quite sizable, even in the context of the large university that I was at. But it seems to be

Katja Hoyer on East and West Germany, reunification and Anglo-German Relations

that it is often still treated as a nice thing to have, rather than kind of a core subject as such. But it’s compulsory in German schools, you have to do history to a much higher level than you do in Britain, where you can basically get rid of it after kind of, you know, year eight, year nine, wherever schools are with it. So I do think it is taken seriously as a subject and it is studied fairly widely.

I think one of the key things that has perhaps changed is that it used to be seen as a boy’s subject. So people treated it like the sciences, and like maths and other sorts of subjects that had a reputation for being sort of very male orientated. So at my school, for instance, it was still more popular with boys than it was with girls, and from what I understand that’s changed now in terms of it being pretty 50/50. So there’s certainly been an increasing interest in history from women and girls, that’s maybe one of the big changes, I’d say.

MH: Do you think reunification has been a success or failure for East Germans? Or is this a too broad way of looking at it?

KH: Yeah, I’m quite reluctant to phrase it in those terms, because I think the vast majority of Germans east and west want a unified country overall. So they are happier and kind of feel it’s the more natural way for Germany to be with all parts of Germans in the same country. So there was jubilation and also a sense that the natural thing that would have happened anyway happened, maybe earlier than most people expected. But it did. On the flip side, though, the way that it was handled, I think, caused a lot of consternation and dissatisfaction on both sides. So you had lots of West Germans saying we were never asked about unification and now we

have to take the wheel, we have to bear the economic costs of it. It’s quite telling as well, that the West German public wasn’t really consulted over this, it just went through Parliament. But then on the other side, you have East Germans who really sort of suffered under the economic fallout, after the wall came down, when their businesses were just sold out similarly to what happened in Russia, and the entire economy just collapsed. And mass unemployment was the cause of that. So, you know, there’s the bigger historical context, which I think is a positive one. And many people, most people I’d say, see it that way. But we can still see from the debates in Germany at the moment that the kind of divisions that were also caused by that haven’t gone away, and are still very, very difficult to talk about.

MH: So do you think that’s necessarily indicative more of the failures in the process or the process taking place at the wrong time, for instance? Or is it more kind of an indicator of just the deep divisions that were caused by separation, and the two countries growing apart?

KH: Both, I think, because first of all, you have the immense propaganda during the Cold War on both sides, where the other side became the enemy and reduced to a very simplistic image of what it’s like. And that hasn’t gone away with older Germans in particular, who were adults by the time that the wall fell, and had been fully socialised on either side. And therefore those kind of perceptions are difficult to deconstruct. And then also the way that people just live very different lives. This is one of the things I’m trying to do with my book, is to show what life was actually like in East Germany

for many Germans and why they still, in some ways, think slightly differently or have a different way of doing things or different expectations of what the state does and doesn’t do. And there’s often a kind of a misunderstanding of that on behalf of West Germans, where they will kind of say, you know, these people were socialised in a dictatorship, so therefore, everything they know is invalid and that’s why they behave strangely or they vote in the wrong way. So there’s that as well. And on top of that, I think it was the way that the process was handled. It was all very, very quick. In 1989 and 1990. The way that it was a complete absorption of East Germany into the West gave West Germans the feeling that they’d been doing things right for 41 years and East Germans were wrong about everything. And East Germans perceived that as arrogance, and this idea that they were being lectured and told how to do things, I think created a resentment that we also still see lingering. So it’s a long term thing. And then on top of that, you have the last sort of 30 years of misunderstandings, I think, between both sides.

MH: In John Kampfner’s review of your book, he suggested the one benefit is that being in a generation that doesn’t necessarily remember the old regime as such, you can view it from a more objective point of view. Do you agree with that? And do you think East Germany will be the subject of more study in the future from people who have grown up without experiencing the regime?

KH: Yeah, I think that is an advantage. The book came out yesterday in Germany and the response has been really intense on all sides. I’ve had lots of people say to me it’s so brave

of you to do this, and finally, somebody’s telling this story, or these stories of people who haven’t really been heard. And then equally, I’ve had a complete slating of the book in one of the German newspapers, as East German propaganda and it was a very personal attack on me as a person, reducing me to the daughter of an army officer, and then all the rest of it. And I think it’s quite telling that that comes from older people, I haven’t had the same amount of intense attack from people say, under the age of 30, or even 35, who tend to be kind of more open minded, and just look at what I’ve got to say, and then we can still agree or disagree on it. But just some sort of chipping away at the traditional narrative makes older people very, very nervous, because that’s the established thing that everybody agrees with, you know, and then that people grow quite fond of it. And it’s easier to shake that or to even see it a different way, if you’re younger. And if you haven’t been part of that narrative.

I think it’s both my age and also that I live in Britain, you know, and have done so for a long time. So it’s much easier to see things from the outside when you’re not part of it. I was very struck by the amount of anger I found amongst East Germans, for example, about the way that the debates have gone over the last 30 years. And also by the amount of immediate attack from older West Germans towards my book that is clearly a result of their own sort of socialisation to some extent.

Full interview available at

Profile | 13 The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023
“...there’s still this post cold war image of the whole of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union being one block. And it’s often talked about as that. ”

‘Intersectionality in Oxford’

Halima Saeed discusses her experience of intersectionality at the University of Oxford

Theterm “intersectionality” is so often thrown around in today’s discourse that it has now become a buzzword, associated with whistle-stop Instagram posts detailing the different marginalised groups that can overlap for someone to fit into the box of having an intersectional identity. But ticking every box on the diversity checklist is far too reductionist of the reality of having such an identity. In practice, fitting into multiple marginalised groups means that often you feel like you don’t truly fit anywhere at all.

Growing up as a British-Pakistani Muslim woman in a white-dominated area immediately means that the cards are stacked against you. Such an upbringing is accompanied by constant double standards. There are the rules and practices within your family’s culture, and then the norms that you learn from being raised in a different country. I find myself lucky in that I had been raised in the United Kingdom from birth, so I didn’t have to further reconcile the culture


of my childhood with that of my later life, as so many people do. Regardless, the constant tug-of-war between the culture you are raised within and the one that you learn is relentless. Not fully fitting into either group leads to a drifting displacement, untethered by any group that fully understands you. This is a lifelong battle, and one only heightened by coming to Oxford.

When you apply to Oxford, the tutors, careers advisors, past students and the like all attempt to eliminate the myth of the “Oxford Type”. This is a well-known idea: there is one type of person that can study at this university, and that is the legacy student from a central London postcode. Clearly, this is an exaggeration – but not entirely removed from the truth. Thousands of people study at Oxford, all of whom are from various backgrounds and walks of life. Despite this, every student here knows some individual that fits the former description. The fact that I have gone from knowing no Etonians to about ten in the space of a

year is telling enough about the diversity of Oxford’s students. Realising that you could not be further from this description when you already feel displaced is a harrowing discovery, and this feeling of isolation only grows.

In recent years, there has been a huge push to increase access and diversity among UK institutions and this has possibly been one of the greatest movements across higher education in this country. Oxford, as a historically traditional and markedly “British” university, undoubtedly has its work cut out for it. There is no argument to be made that the diversity of the student populace within Oxford has not been improved. There is, however, scope to argue that much improvement still needs to be seen. The fact that the people who dominate the senior roles in clubs and societies are those that would arguably fit into the “Oxford Type” is telling of how the diversity of the student population is distributed within the university itself. Reconciling my own complex identity with the com-

monalities of these people is something I will have to deal with for years to come. There are those, however, who hold equally complex intersectional identities and thrive within this university both academically and socially. It is vital to uplift these people, but also to recognise the fact that, in reaching such levels of success, it often feels like you have to leave parts of your identity behind. A notorious example of this includes politicians such as PM Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman. Being representatives of different groups on paper does not detract from the criticism they have attracted for moulding to fit into the norms of those that usually occupy Parliament. It does lend itself to a complex issue however: is it better to conform and fit in, or is it better to be truer to your identity but constantly feel displaced? This is a dilemma that most people

with intersectional identities will likely experience and struggle with at some point. It must be said that my postcode, my income, my ethnicity, and my gender are all factors that should not inhibit my ability to fit in at this university. In fact, the nuances of my experiences should surely serve to bring colour to the discourse and lives of myself and others. There is much work to be done to allow this to be the truth, and to allow those from less privileged backgrounds to reach the same height as those with a leg up. The only way to attain this once and for all is to stop shying away from raising awareness around the lived reality of those with an intersectional identity, both at this university and at large.

‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’

Farrah Bergstrom reviews the 2022 film ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ in relation to

immigrant identity

Everything Everywhere All At Once cleaned up at the Oscars this year, winning seven different awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. The film was the most awarded picture at the 95th Academy Awards — and deservedly so.

Everything Everywhere is a deeply sympathetic ode to im-

migrant families everywhere,

masked as a high action, interdimensional sci-fi drama. The film follows Evelyn Wang (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese immigrant, and her relationship with her family, particularly her daughter Joy or Jobu Tupaki who is the primary “antagonist” (portrayed by Stephanie Hsu). As Evelyn attempts to navigate her ordi-

nary, everyday struggles (including potential divorce, IRS audit, and a struggling business), she must also face the extraordinary, Jobu Tupaki (another version of Joy, from the first universe, the Alphaverse).

Evelyn assumes that Jobu has “possessed” her daughter, but this isn’t exactly the case.

willing to do to my daughter what you did to me.”

– Evelyn Wang

So instead of forcefully battling Jobu, Evelyn learns to jump universes in an attempt to understand her in order to defeat her. Evelyn encounters many of her own possible lives which serves as a poignant metaphor for immigrants and their children, and all of their untold potential. As the plot progresses, it becomes clear that Jobu (Joy) has searched the entire multiverse to try and find a version of her mother that genuinely loves and understands her. This comparison addresses intergenerational trauma, particularly through Evelyn’s relationship with her daughter,

but also her own father.

The film’s directors, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, do a phenomenal job of highlighting the pain of both the mother and daughter throughout the film, noting that it is often difficult to comprehend just how much we often hurt the people we’re closest to.

Evelyn, despite her feelings of unfulfillment and despite seeing all that she could have been, realizes that the life she has with her daughter is the only one she really wants. But this doesn’t just erase the pain that Joy has likely felt her whole life. This hurt is often true of

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student 14 | Identity
“I am no longer

immigrant children, who want nothing more than to make their parents proud while still trying to be someone that they themselves can be proud of.

Everything Everywhere also demonstrates the importance

of kindness and notes how it is often underestimated. This is most prominently demonstrated through Waymond (portrayed by Ke Huy Quan), Evelyn’s husband and Joy’s father. What Evelyn mistakes for foolishness is something she comes to realize is her husband’s way of coping with their reality. During their Lunar New Year party, Evelyn finally learns to see Waymond’s goofy nature as a strength rather than a burden, and a balancing act

rather than silliness.

Everything Everywhere is a funny, action-packed film, and while it does require some effort to follow initially, the pay-off is entirely worth it. Among its other awards won at the Oscars were Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score, and Best Costume Design. Personally, I’ve seen the film six different times, and cried every time! Everything Everywhere has so much heart and it shows because it’s clear that

everyone involved (from the actors to the personal assistants) poured their own hearts into this film. It’s exceedingly rare that I see myself in a piece of media, so when I do, it’s utterly mesmerizing.

It’sfunny living in a world where nowhere feels like home. People get offended when you say you can’t trust them, or that you don’t feel comfortable in their own home, or they think you’re being rude and over-dramatic and needlessly problematic. And all the while, your brain is telling you that they hate you, and they’re all mad at you, and you’re the problem, and you know you’re not, but you can’t help it, can you? Welcome to the world of the emotional nomad: nowhere is safe.

It’s always good to reflect on your roots. I’ve learnt over the years that our upbringing is most often the cause of how we are today. I was raised by two parents on benefits - a bipolar father and his victim of a wife. In my house, you would fight and argue then wake up the next morning still in shock while everyone else pretended that nothing happened. One minute my entire life would be falling apart, and the next my dad would hug me and say he’s sorry and we became that picture-perfect happy family once again. That was just my life, and it became normal for me.

Living with a bipolar dad is all about cycles. You learn to figure out when dad is depressed and when dad is manic, and you time your behaviour accordingly. If dad is in a depressive phase, you stay quiet and out of sight; if dad is manic, you’ve got a better chance of him saying yes to things, and you’ll prob-

ably end up on a spontaneous road trip somewhere so you need to brace yourself for chaos. You’re constantly on edge when the person who’s supposed to take care of you could flip the switch at any second. I moved house a lot as a kid and was homeless for a bit, and everything was always sprung on me at the last minute. I still remember the day my mum turned up while we were lining up at the end of the day in my third primary school - the place I had slowly learnt to love - telling me I was leaving forever. I still remember the colour of the display I leaned my head against as I cried my eyes out, and the face of my best friend as I hugged him for the last time.

Change doesn’t come easy for most people, but it’s been a particular struggle for me. You’d think that such an unstable upbringing would make you used to it, but instead I grew to fear change. I suddenly felt like one day, everyone I love and care about might disappear, and as a kid with nowhere to turn to, I didn’t know any better but to entertain that thought. I could never properly explain this to anyone, so I always came across as rude and excessively angry whenever I was panicking or lashing out - naturally, I kept blaming myself. It became such a deeply-instilled fear that the slightest change to my daily routine threw me off, and as much as I wanted it gone, that

fear became a part of me. In addition to this, I always seemed to struggled to make friends. Again, you’d think with so much change in your life you’d have loads of practice, but somehow I always ended up being the loner. I got all my validation from being a high achiever because I had nothing else to my name, and thus at this point in my life, school was the closest thing to home. But even then, I never felt like I could be myself. I had this big reputation to live up to, and it felt like compared to that, all my other issues were insignificant. Questioning my sexuality and gender didn’t matter, nor did my struggles with grief, depression and anxiety - as long as I kept getting good grades. I slowly realised that the only reason people would talk to me was to get answers, and the minute we left the classroom I became invisible again. Having no space to talk about these things meant that they became hard-wired into my brain, and over time I slowly began to think nothing but these thoughts. My mental health tanked, my self-esteem crumbled, and I had nowhere to go home to.

I think the word “home” is really important to think about. It is both a physical place and a feeling, in my opinion. Being homeless most certainly refers to the lack of a physical place of shelter and is its own separate issue, so I think it would be better to describe an emotional lack of home as something different. This feeling of having nowhere to be safe and comfortable came from my upbringing and a combination of different experiences that contributed to the person I am today. Even the word “nomad”

often has negative connotations, but in this context I want to use it in a positive light as a summary of my experiences, whilst respecting the nomadic community.

“’s okay to talk about it.”

We need to understand how important it is for children to have somewhere to feel safe, and sadly it is a fact that not everyone has that. I still - and probably always will - struggle with change, and that will affect me for the rest of my life. I am most definitely learning to control my fear, but I’m not sure it will ever truly go away. Parents need to realise how much their childrens’ environment affects them, and the power they have to dictate that. Equally, those children need to know that it’s okay to talk about it. My sense of home became really confused when I started university. I finally found a place to be myself, a place where I had real friends and my own space. But somehow, things were getting worse. The stark contrast between my new home in Oxford and my old home in the north, and the drastic changes between term time and vacation, caused me to relapse. I finally found home in the people I met and the wonderful institution where I felt like myself, but I still had to go back to an environment that I heavily associated with traumatic experiences. I was all over the country for the first time in my life, visiting friends and moving between places constantly. If my sense of home wasn’t already blurred, it sure as hell was then. I was doing all the right things to get better, but my fear of change still loomed over me like a

dark cloud, and I found myself trapped in a hole once again. People need to understand that home isn’t quite as simple as it seems. Not everyone has a lovely house and family to go back to during vacation, and not everyone has a space where they feel safe. But what we as friends of those people can do is provide that space, even if only for a moment. I’ve found that friends (real friends that actually care about you) have been the most important factor of my journey and selfimprovement, and it has been so helpful for me to have people to go to when I want to escape. Having even one day where I can forget my home life gave me the chance to reflect upon myself in a safe space, and take steps towards taking better care of myself.

Family doesn’t always come before friends, and I think that’s okay. If you can find home in the heart of your friend, or the purr of your cat, or the pages of a book, then that’s the first step towards finding your own safe space and your true self. Being an emotional nomad can be rough, but at the same time it’s a part of who you are, and you have the power to make that a good thing. We are a product of our experiences, and we may not be able to change the past, but we can certainly dictate the future. After acknowledging my childhood, I am now in a place where I can reflect and grow from that in a healthy way, and I hope anyone in a similar position is able to do the same. At the end of the day, all it means is that once you set up camp, you’ll have plenty of stories to tell under the stars.

“We are a product of our experiences...”
Identity | 15 The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023
‘The Emotional Nomad’
Benji Chowdhury discusses his experience with mental health and the idea of “home”
“Why not go somewhere where your daughter is more than just this?”
– Joy Wang
“Something that explains why you still went looking for me through all of this noise. And why, no matter what, I still want to be here with you.”
– Evelyn Wang

Activities with Amy

Amy Ellis Winter’s reputation precedes her in many ways. Her relatively large social profile comes from her participation in many Oxford societies, such as Editor in Chief of That Oxford Girl, mentor for Zero Gravity, Director of Communications at the Oxford Union, and work in the Oxford fashion scene and journalism with The Oxford Blue and the Serenity Project. I met up with Amy over smoothies to chat about how these activities enriched her life– and the pros and cons of being high profile itself.

We started with her dive into the Oxford fashion scene, where she went from modeling with a few companies before university to a larger level of impact. Amy is social media manager for the Serenity Project, which aims to help at-risk women gain confidence through fashion. Recently, she modeled the designs of one of my favorite designers, Noemie Jouas. Modeling was something that she took on because it felt “out of reach”, something reserved for nepo babies and people with the money to do fashion, but the larger platform Oxford gave her allowed her to explore aspects of fashion beyond just the clothing itself.

As Senior Lifestyle and Fashion Editor for The Oxford Blue, Amy explored her interest in how things were created and how it intersected with the environment and human rights. Under her editorship, the Blue shifted from a more style-based focus to an intersectional ap-


proach to fashion, connecting with political movements and the climate change crisis.

Amy also embraced her unique background in order to empower and inspire others around her. “I come from a state school background,” she noted, “a Crankstart scholar from a tiny town in North Wales. There were zero opportunities.” Her time at That Oxford Girl started with an application in her first year to be an ambassador, writing blog posts about her experiences at Oxford and building a community within the university. That Oxford Girl allows women of underrepresented backgrounds to share their voice, and as she stepped into the role of Editor in Chief this year, Amy took on more responsibility and was excited to see her hard work and experience pay off with every post published.

Yet it’s important to take these activities in moderation and maintain a balance while still finding fulfillment. Amy noted that she got “burnt out, very quickly” in her first year after taking on so many activities, learning to take some time in order to properly balance academic work with life. After all, it doesn’t take doing everything around campus to become wellknown. Amy rightfully called out this column and the idea of a BNOC in general, saying that the only reason why the Union and student journalists seem to be more well-known is because they have a larger platform. Everyone at Oxford does something impressive, whether it’s societies, activism, or just doing your degree well, and the links we form throughout uni are massive and long-lasting.

During our chat, we reflected

on how many of the events and opportunities that Oxford gives could both enrich and overwhelm people, especially with the state/private school divide. Private schoolers’ access to multiple opportunities over the years gives them more experience to know what they like and what activities to take on, while the comparative lack of activities for many state schoolers means that Oxford is where they need to play catch-up, in a sense. Amy felt this sense of urgency, as well: “When I first came to uni, I got this sense of, ‘I have only three years here, so I must throw myself into everything.’” For her, activities were not just for enjoyment, but also a way to create a network and build a career after Oxford. One thing everyone can agree on, though, is the need to do what you most enjoy. Amy originally started in an elected role in the Oxford Union, but quickly realized that the rigor of Union politics wasn’t for her. She found a more fulfilling role in the Director of Communications, where she enjoys the graphic design elements of running the Union’s social media. The benefit of Oxford’s many societies is that you can very quickly go between them or even between roles in them as you grow as a person and decide what you want to spend your time doing.

I personally have certainly loved the clubs that I’ve found myself involved in, and the benefit of having so many is that you’re always welcome to turn up to a meeting of a society, no matter how much experience you’ve had.

Sunday of 2nd week, and I had finally started recovering from the sleep-deprivation of May Day, so I decided it was time to pretend to revise somewhere other than my room. After spending the entire (postbop) morning convincing myself to actually leave/watching the first five episodes of Peep Show, I finally ventured out into town at the respectable time of 1pm.

The weather actually resembled something like spring for once, so the walk along Banbury Road wasn’t quite as gruelling as usual, even when going past the Thom Building. There’s just something about the way the windows catch the sunlight on sunny days, even if it’s been ranked the ugliest university building in the UK on TikTok. I decided to go with a friend to a bookshop/café/pub called ‘Gulp Fiction’, which I’d often wanted to visit, but I’d never actually got round to doing, just like half of the reading I initially plan on doing for essays.

I’m really glad that I didn’t delay my visit any longer, because it is such a lovely environment: as soon as I stepped inside, it felt like I was entering another world, where literature was simply unrestrainedly appreciated, without any concern for essay deadlines. The interior design was warm and inviting, with the fiction books lining the walls of the bottom floor/café area, whilst the room upstairs contained a selection of non-fiction.

Several conversations about book recommendations from employees and customers alike pleasantly hummed in the background, with a frequent recommendation being Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. My friend and I did in fact order some coffee, which was delicious — just the right milk to coffee ratio. Unfortunately, I had to do a translation and

seminar prep during my stay, but nevertheless, the brief respite from academia was nice while it lasted.

Oliver Mason, the owner, describes Gulp Fiction as “a bit different, something with a touch of revelry”, which is certainly the case in the hybrid nature of the shop — it functions as a bookshop, café and pub all at once, with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks on offer.

“I’ve been a bookseller for around eight years; I’ve worked for indies and chains as a buyer. When COVID happened I had a chance to get some breathing space and work on a business plan of my own,” he said.

“As we are a smaller shop, we can give each customer greater attention and time. I make sure that everyone that comes into the shop is welcomed as if it were my home. Waterstones, though brilliant, are too big to do that. The quality of our booksellers is unmatched by any other bookshop in the country, let alone Oxford. That sets us apart. People come in and have an experience unlike anywhere else.”

The support that Oliver offers to the local community is also unmatched: “We also have an array of events: music, talks, parties, all sorts. I’m also throwing a launch party this Friday [12th] for a local all-female press: ‘Edgeway Press’.”

I’m making a point of returning, possibly for a jazz night, or even just to sit and read as a break from prelims revision. It’s such a welcoming place, whether you want to visit to get some excellent book recommendations from the booksellers, engage with the community through experiencing its musical or literary culture, or simply just study in a new environment. I left the shop with a copy of Selby Wynn Schwartz’s After Sappho, as well as a bookmark I can redeem for a free coffee whenever I visit next.

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student
16 | Columns
Gulp Fiction



Blane’s Style Files: The 2023 Met Gala: The Good, The Cat and the Ugly

in line with Wintour’s usual, modest approach to fashion. This is a winner in my book.

Dua Lipa

rities self-reference, but this is getting ridiculous now.

Pedro Pascal

nothing else, committing to the bit never goes out of style!

Anne Hathaway

After a few years of Americana-themed Met Galas, the 2023 Met Gala had the theme ‘Karl Lagerfeld – A Line of Beauty’. This was in memory of Lagerfeld after his death in February of 2019.

Despite being the most specific theme in several years (a refreshing change from the all-too-often misinterpreted themes of the last four years), it has also been criticised for supporting Lagerfeld, who was well known for his islamophobia, antisemitism, rape and sexual assault apologism, misogyny, fatphobia, hatred of sweatpants, and complicated relationship with the colour pink.

Regardless of the controversy, the celebrity guests this year provided some of the best looks since 2018’s ‘Heavenly Bodies – Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’, though nothing is ever likely to beat the outfits we saw then, is it?

Anyway, here are my verdicts on some of the outfits we saw on this year’s strangely-patterned Met Gala carpet.

Anna Wintour

I’ve seen a lot online about Anna Wintour’s Met Gala outfits usually being disappointing, but I have to disagree with this. The grey really suits her, the cream leopard-printesque pattern complements her hair, and the long pencil underskirt keeps the outfit

This year, Dua Lipa was one of the co-chairs of the gala, and she very nearly had an amazing outfit too. This dress was originally seen on Claudia Schiffer at the Fall/ Winter 1992 Haute Couture show, where it was worn with a matching jacket, matching hat, and a lacy neckpiece. Without these pieces (and with a boring hairstyle and a necklace that isn’t even worth mentioning) there’s an inescapable feeling that the outfit is missing something, especially as Lagerfeld was known for his use of accessories.

Naomi Campbell

Proving that Lagerfeld didn’t completely hate the colour pink, everyone’s favourite supermodel wore a pink vintage Chanel dress from when Lagerfeld oversaw the brand. The draped pink fabric is reminiscent of a roman toga, with the shiny silver spirals resembling a breastplate, asserting Campbell as one of the most famous models ever.

Kim Kardashian

The dress-wrecker is back again, though this time she’s wearing something from Schiaparelli rather than something from Marilyn’s wardrobe. This marks the third time that Kim has worn a neutral-coloured dress covered in beads, rhinestones or other accoutrements since 2019, and I’m getting bored now. It can be fun when celeb-

This is utterly grotesque. Something about the combination of the slicked-back, greasy looking hair, the fact that you can see his knees, and the tomato trench coat is absolutely disgusting, and the whole thing is giving me second-hand embarrassment.

Jared Leto

This was definitely the most fun outfit of the night. Arriving dressed as Karl Lagerfeld’s beloved cat Choupette, Jared Leto shocked us all once again. Is it as good as the time he showed up holding his own fake severed head? No. Is it fun and memorable? Yes. I also feel the need to mention that the outfit was made by Karl Lagerfeld’s own brand. Can you imagine calling them up and saying, “You know what, I just really want to dress up as his cat”?

Doja Cat

Continuing the feline theme, Doja Cat continued her streak of wearing crazy outfits to events (remember the red rhinestone outfit for Schiaparelli at Paris Fashion Week?) with an ode to Choupette, complete with feline facial prosthetics and ears on top of the dress’ hood. In true Doja Cat form, she also responded to Emma Chamberlain’s interview questions solely by meowing. I love how seriously Doja took this outfit, and I love that she took inspiration from both Choupette and her own stage name. If

Knowing that vintage Chanel would be the single biggest source of inspiration for the outfits this year, it’s no surprise that a tweed dress or two walked the Met Gala carpet. Anne Hathaway, however, did it better than everyone else because of how her Versace dress reinvented the classic Chanel concepts. This contrast between tweed, a formal and stereotypically ‘modest’ fabric (Think Jackie Kennedy’s pink tweed suit, which was made by Chanel), and the multiple slits going all the way up the dress creates the perfect subversive twist on a Chanel staple.

Lil Nas X

I don’t really know where to start with it, to be honest. I don’t think the Met Gala has ever seen an outfit quite like this, with much more body paint and Swarovski crystals than fabric, but the sheer originality (and Lil Nas X’s confidence) cements the look as one of the most daring yet. My main concern is how cold it would be - I hope he brought a jacket.

The Cockroach

If you’ve seen that video of the cockroach walking up the carpet while the photogra pher is almost simultaneously trying to photograph it and kill it, then you’ll know that this cockroach was the most iconic person to show up all night, and easily outsold all your faves.

Columns | 17 The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023
“It’s all about taste. If you are cheap, nothing helps.” – Karl Lagerfeld
Image Credit: Vogue Taiwan via Wikimedia Commons

Eastern European Expeditions: Lost in Zagreb

Budapest was next up after Bratislava, and it did not disappoint. Although firmly on the tourist track, I felt it lacked the overbearing touristic style of places like Prague. No scam restaurants trying to usher you in for an overpriced and bland bowl of pasta, far fewer souvenir shops trying to flog you fridge magnets and bongs in the shape of penises. Budapest is certainly a city, like Tallinn, that has crafted its own direction and vibe since Communist rule.

The tight streets of Pest come alive at night, and the clubbing scene does retain a semblance of originality in places like Szimpla Kert, the quintessential ruin bar with enough rooms and bars for multiple evenings worth of exploring. Instant comes across a bit less unique, but is sufficiently cavernous and labyrinthine to keep you entertained after you’re inevitably sick of the mid house the DJs insist on playing. A highlight was betting with some guys from Coventry over their upcoming fixture against my dear Norwich City, and although we shook on the terms, I was never paypalled my winnings for a dominant 3-0 victory. Gutting. The sights of Budapest by day are equally sound, the heights of Buda with St Matthias’ and the Castle, the parliament building is majestic despite the inadequacy of its current tenant, St Stephen’s and so on. Indeed the aesthetics of the Fisherman’s Bastion and Szechenyi Baths are almost beautiful enough to justify the Instagram caption ‘Budababes’, but not quite. A walk around central Pest itself conveys its grungy-but-hip character, like Berlin with the depravity toned down a good amount. So yeah, great place, fun times etc.

Someone trying to sell me a Danube booze cruise brought my desperation to get back away from the really mainstream places back to the forefront of my mind however, so I left for Zagreb. The fivehour bus journey was mired

by a 15-strong contingent of Croatian youths chatting noisily at the back of the coach, although the views over Lake Balaton somewhat balanced it out. Delivered safely to the bus station, I trammed it over to my hostel and took in a good half of the city’s main sights through a graffiti-covered window. They looked nice.

That evening, in classic fashion, I was shoe-horned into a hostel organised pub crawl, although being the sneaky man I am I didn’t pay and just tagged along, wristband-less but marginally richer. I met two fellow Norwich fans on the crawl and told them about the situation with the Coventry lads. They disapproved of their dishonesty too, all the while acknowledging that I obviously had no intention of paying them in the event of a Norwich loss either. However, with Coventry all but secured in the playoffs and Norwich stagnating mid-table, I think they got the last laugh. #webberout.

The two bars crawled ranged from good to bad, one being an edgy, all black decor, kinda goth place playing the Grateful Dead and Black Sabbath, filled with interesting people and two (!) well-behaved dogs. The other was a soulless box, albeit with a balcony overlooking Josip Jelacic Square (the main one), and indeed overseeing the mildly reprehensible yet depressingly relatable Friday-night antics of Zagreb’s adolescent community taking place upon it. Blissfully, it soon came time to go to the club.

The club at the end of the crawl can be very hit or miss. By Zagreb I was well-versed in the phenomenon, the need to socialise and have fun while travelling solo having driven me onto more than I would have liked, and so my expectations were aptly managed. It was soon revealed that our destination was a strong hour’s walk away, which became 45 minutes after we were thrown off the tram we collectively bumped. Out of the centre and

well into the depths of huge Tito-era housing blocks, we reached Boogaloo. It was hit. Music: drum and bass, beer: cheap, vibes: exquisite. After dancing the night away with the Zagreb locals, it sadly came time to depart. A very speeded man from the hostel attempted to entice a few of us into accompanying him to a rave another hour’s walk away. A tempting offer, but the collective need for a kebab had already been established so we left him to it. He was still up at noon the next day, playing beer pong shirtless in the common room blaring bad techno. What a man. Post kebab, everyone else managed to hop into a taxi so I was left to my own devices, which I didn’t really mind. Google maps wasn’t really working as I didn’t have data, but my sense of direction is indomitable. So, I set off through the yellow-lit streets of central-ish Zagreb grooving to Bicep’s Glue, half a kebab which I was saving for later in hand. The walk went fast, I was in a good mood, high on life, appreciating the distinct beauty of an empty city in the dead of night. I made it back without any hiccups, although I did succumb to scranning the other half of the kebab. In the end, it’s a night in my memory that I treasure, just one of those itinerant weird ones that hold a special place. Maybe ‘lost’ was inaccurate, but I didn’t like the ring of “Nocturnal Ruminations in Zagreb” or something equally pretentious. The city itself is also calm, but alas there’s not the space to discuss it. Until next time.

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student Columns
18 | Columns


The Dawn of May Day

Hopefully enough time has passed since this year’s May Day celebrations for the name to provoke feelings other than exhaustion, hang-overs, and the inevitable panicked essay-crisis that followed. Now I’m less sleepdeprived, I thought it would be interesting to look into the history of the festival. What for many Oxford students entails a club night, night-swimming and a big cooked breakfast for those who survive until 6am, was traditionally a celebration of fertility and new life.

The tradition can be traced back as early as the Roman era when the arrival of spring would be celebrated with dancing to the Goddess Flora in a festival that took place between April 28th and May 3rd. The Roman religion also celebrated the festival of Cerelia (dedicated to the grain goddess Ceres) for a week in late April. For Gaelic communities, the Beltane festival took place half-way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice (the beginning of May), in which people would hang flowers and wild blossoms around the doors and windows of their houses. Although these rituals died out as a result of their Pagan influence (particularly due to the significant criticism they received from the seventeenth century Puritan regime), the first day of May, known as Calan Mai or Calan Haf, is still celebrated in many places in Wales. The traditions of decorating your doors and windows with blossom (often hawthorn), and building bonfires on the last day of April to bless the animals and their herders, has never died out, and Beltane is one of the few festivals that survived the establishment of Christianity in Britain - there is even still a Beltane Fire Society based in Edinburgh.

The various celebrations associated with the beginning of May also crop up in literature. May Queens, for instance, were most prominent in the Edwardian and Victorian period, where a young girl was dressed in white and crowned with a flower crown, marking

her as a symbol of purity and the coming of a fertile spring. Thomas Hardy makes reference to this ritual in Tess of the d’Urbervilles (familiar to any who had the gruelling task of tackling the book for English Literature), where the purity, or lack thereof, of the young women is highlighted by the white dress and celebrations.

Oxford’s unique May Day traditions have been depicted in as diverse sources as Vera Brittain’s poem from 1916, “May Morning”, and Richard Attenborough’s 1993 film, Shadowlands, about C.S. Lewis.

Deputy Editor: Frankie Coy

Section Editors: Haochen Wang, Grace Rees, Purav Menon

In Oxford, the tradition of the Magdalen College Choir singing from the Great Tower originates in the seventeenth century when the Hymnus Eucharisticus was composed by Magdalen College’s choirmaster, Benjamin Rogers, and has been sung every year on May Morning since. Morris Dancing has also been historically

associated with May Day, and Morris Dancers still perform around Oxford following the choir’s performance. Similarly, Green has long been associated with life and rebirth, which is embodied by The Green Man, an ancient pagan figure representing fertility and growth. A central figure in May Day celebrations throughout Northern and Central Europe, he is the male counterpart of the May Queen, and is often portrayed with acorns and hawthorn leaves, medieval symbols of fertility associated with spring. The Green Man can be seen in many places in Oxford; in churches, on college buildings and in street architecture. The Green Man features in churches as a symbol of rebirth and resurrection, key ideas in Christianity, and serves as an example of how images from the ‘old religion’ were brought into medieval churches to tie them to the Christian faith. The legacy of such festivities certainly remains strong even today. Perhaps the most recognisable aspect of May Day celebrations is the maypole (which Hardy also discusses in Return of the Native). Although the tradition was first practised in Wales in the mid-14th century, many village greens across the United Kingdom were decorated with colourful maypoles circled by dancing children this May Day. I vaguely remember getting the colourful chaos of Maypole dancing in P.E. lessons in primary school. Clearly, things haven’t changed all too much.

This remains true for the more unruly behaviour that is associated with May Day. Particularly for us students, May Day is no longer a celebration of spring, but rather an excuse for a good night out and a bank holiday used to recover and sleep, at last. Sometimes, this has even resulted in tragedy; ITV News reported in this year’s coverage of Oxford’s May Day celebrations that one person was left paralysed in 1997, and ten were hospitalised in 2005 for jumping from the Magdalen Bridge. The bridge was closed completely between 19982001, and 2006 - 2009 to try and deter jumpers, and there has been a police presence on the bridge every year since. So when did this all change? Well, it didn’t really. Although May Day celebrations used to represent more of various spiritual festivals it has evolved from, the spirit of the day remains relatively unchanged. As early as 1250, the Chancellor of Oxford University banned masked dancing, processions, and loud noises, and rioting students were reported in the 19th century. Elsewhere, May festivals have almost always included, or been associated with, raucous or lewd behaviour. In certain periods this was mainly due to the celebration’s affiliation with Pagan tradition, and its complete irrelevance to the Christian calendar. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, maypoles were erected across Britain to symbolise (and celebrate) the end of Puritan rule, and all the prohibi-

tions that came with it. Prior to the criticisms of the Puritan regime, the Roman festival of Floralia often involved the throwing of produce and the release of wild animals into crowds which was unavoidably chaotic.

As for the May Day Bank Holiday, this was instituted by Michael Foot, then the Labour Employment Secretary, and confirmed by royal proclamation in 1978. Controversially at the time, May 1st also marks International Workers’ Day, which many objected to due to its associations with socialism. Despite considerations by the UK parliament in 2011, and John Major’s government in 1993, to scrap the bank holiday and replace it with a celebration of British history such a ‘Trafalgar Day’, the bank holiday evidently survived. May Day has a long and varied history both nationally and within Oxford. Although a lot seems to have changed around us, the traditions themselves, and the spirit of the celebrations don’t seem all too different. Yes, decreasing numbers of children dance around maypoles and partake in competitions to become May Queen, but young people still celebrate in their own way. An all-nighter beginning in Bridge or Atik (as documented in another article on this year’s May Day), still captures the same rebellious and free-spirited attitude that May Day always embodied.

The Oxford Student | Friday 28 April 2023 Features | 19

Is Oxford a welcoming place for trans people?

On the 21st April 2023, the Oxford Union released its termcard for Trinity Term 2023, containing an invitation for philosopher Kathleen Stock to speak at the Union. The invitation was met with near-instant condemnation by multiple LGBTQ+ students, welfare societies, and advocacy groups affiliated with the University of Oxford. Stock has gained prominence through her gender critical views, arguing that proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act threatened a “secure understanding of the concept ‘lesbian’” and womanhood more broadly, and that “many trans women are still males with male genitalia”.

The University’s LGBTQ+ society was first to respond, releasing a tweet that stated it was “dismayed and appalled” that the Oxford Union decided to “platform” Stock, arguing that, the Union was “disregarding the welfare of its LGBTQ+ members under the guise of free speech”. Stock retweeted their statement, saying that it was “probably defamatory”, leading to more than 1 million views on the society’s social media page. Within the statement, the society alleged that Stock had campaigned “against trans rights”, “supporting conversion therapy”, and supporting “hate groups” like the LGB Alliance.

Soon after this, a pile on ensued. The Telegraph wrote about the personal details of the society’s President Amiad Haran Diman, and Zoë-Rose Guy, the society’s Secretary and de-facto Vice President. GB News ran multiple segments on the ‘no-platforming’ of Stock. This led to members of the society receiving thousands of hateful messages, and eventually the committee took down posts on social media for fear of retribution.

Both Diman and Guy noted that the society, until recently, had a “policy” of not getting involved with politics, and was instead a “welfare society”. However, when the Union invited Stock, Diman and Guy both felt a responsibility to speak out. Diman commented that “my interpretation of queer welfare [...] is that it is also about making our trans

members know someone is backing them and making sure there is a community that can stand up for itself. Threats to our community are threats to queer welfare.”

Diman also lamented that what they perceived as a local student issue had been “cynically exploited by the national media” to fuel what is perceived as a national culture war. They also added that it “does change the debate because people are more scared of putting out a statement now, even about local issues, because it can become a national issue where a million people will see it”.

Union President Matthew Dick first stated in a Union Standing Committee Meeting that he didn’t “feel responsibility for any wider thing” regarding this treatment. The Union has since issued a statement stating that they “respect the right of speech of those who disagree with our hosting of the event and condemn the doxxing and harassment that some of them have faced”.

Following this outburst of controversy, Oxford Union President Matthew Dick defended Stock’s right to her views, arguing that she had a valuable “academic stance” on trans rights. Since the meeting, the Union have also pledged to allow anonymous questioning, prioritise LGBTQ+ questioning to challenge Stock’s views, and distribute “additional welfare resources”.

Evie Craggs, current Faith Representative of the SU LGBTQ+ campaign, criticised those perspectives. Craggs stated that “if you look back historically, you’ll have people using academics to justify slavery… academics and hate speech actually commingle a lot more than we think they do”. Rosalie Chapman, incoming SU Vice-President for Welfare, pointed out that while Stock is a published academic on several issues, her work in her book Material Girls is “not peer reviewed and not based on empirical research and facts.” Chapman went further, and stated that Stock was using her position to “legitimise hatred”.

Craggs also added that it is a “personal act getting up there against the weaponry” of the

culture war, noting that the fear alone of challenging a speaker who had a legion of supporters willing to attack trans voices would dispel many potential LGBTQ+ attendees. Guy stated that even with the proposed framework, the event amounts to “debating the existence and the rights of an entire group of people”, arguing that “it wouldn’t be acceptable for any other minority group either”.


The feeling that the Union debates the existence and rights of minority groups was expressed in several interviews, and not just in the context of the Kathleen Stock event. Those involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy stressed the importance of peer support systems and the work of individual JCRs/MCRs as the most useful and effective welfare systems for trans students, separate from those of colleges, the University, or the Union.

The 2018 Trans Report, conducted by the LGBTQ+ SU Campaign with 52 responses, cites a 2016 Welfare Report in which 43% of students said their first port of call for welfare were their JCR representatives, with 83% of students suggesting they were satisfied by the support they were given. While many perceive colleges as conservative, JCRs/MCRs present opportunities for support towards trans students, which is reflected in the provision accessible at this level.

A Gender Expression fund is available at 22 of 29 undergraduate Colleges surveyed in an unpublished SU Campaign document of LGBTQ+ provisions seen by The Oxford Student. A wide range of funding is available depending on the college. Wadham, for example, has a cap of £70 per request for reimbursement, while Exeter is the only College with an unlimited amount available to students.

At present, several JCRs have passed motions condemning the Oxford Union for “platforming” Kathleen Stock, with a motion passed by St Anne’s College stating: “All committee members involved must take

responsibility for the recent harm that they have caused and must proceed to act in solidarity with the trans community.”

The Oxford Student can confirm that similar motions have also been passed at St Hilda’s College and Mansfield College, while a number of other Colleges are also in the process of passing similar motions. At Exeter College, the JCR is in the process of proposing a motion to condemn the Union and call on its students to boycott the Union in protest of Stock’s invitation and other welfare concerns.

There was also a general agreement that while students are broadly accepting of trans people, institutions and staff can cause more discomfort and create barriers for trans students. Joel Aston, current co-chair of the SU’s LGBTQ+ campaign, stated that an important figure in their College said that they were “choosing to be the target of all of this because [they’re] out and present”. According to the 2018 report mentioned above, only 12% of trans students said they would know how to report a member of administrative staff for transphobia, while the figure is only slightly higher at 15% for academic staff. We spoke to many students who generally agreed that attempts to increase trans visibility and report instances of concern were often ignored or neglected.

Only 43% of students felt that staff were able to deal with these issues. These statistics generally point towards the idea that on average, trans students lack confidence in their Colleges to be supportive environments for them to express their trans identity. What interviewees recognised as causing difficulty in more traditional support networks, is the reality that much of the abuse students receive comes from external sources, with social media being particularly important. Looking at the examples of Diman and Guy, students are put at risk online for their gender identities and allyship, but it is often more difficult for welfare systems to find ways to support them. The burden in this case fell on other students to

expose abuse and give help to students in need, in the face of unprecedented danger. Joel Aston, current co-chair of the SU’s LGBTQ+ campaign, stated that “students have to do all the work when it comes to changing these institutions”.

The general trend of trusting peers and friends more than the staff in place to give support speaks volumes of the openness and welcoming nature of Oxford’s students towards trans issues. Discussions around trans issues have been improved and much progress has been made at times where trans issues dominated national headlines. Following the murder of Brianna Ghey on the 11th February 2023, a candlelit Vigil was held in Radcliffe Square in which hundreds of allies attended out of solidarity. The event included speeches by numerous trans students and activists who discussed their frustrations at the constant battles faced by trans people in order to fight for their right to exist. A high turnout and participation from various activist groups, namely the LGBTQ+ SU Campaign and OxACT (Oxford Against Conversion Therapy), reflected the notion that when national discussions have impacted Oxford, there has been a sentiment of solidarity and support from fellow students and allies.

Joel Aston, current co-chair of the SU’s LGBTQ+ campaign, emphasised the importance of that allyship in letting trans people live. “When things have changed, it’s been the people who have been at the top of that power structure, the people who’ve been in that privilege who started advocating, fighting, and listening to those communities.”

The Oxford Union said in comment to the Oxford Student that, “the Union entirely condems all harassment LGBTQ society members have faced since opposing this event.” and that “the Union believes that free speech is a two way street and respects the views of those, who might oppose to this event going and condemns those who might try to harass anyone voicing this opposition. Additional reporting by Daisy Outram.

“students have to do all the work when it comes to changing these
20 | Features Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student

On Democracy in India: The Rahul Gandhi case

Donald Trump remarked in a campaign rally in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, “Joe Ball, Joe Gallo, Joe Biden. Isn’t it funny how all criminals seem to have ‘Joe’ in their names?”. Joe Courtney, a member of the House of Representatives for the state of Connecticut, filed a defamation case against Trump, alleging he had illegally defamed all Joes across America. Three years later, a Connecticut court convicted Trump, sentencing him to two years in prison, and automatically disqualifying him from any political career under constitutional law.

If I saw this story on the news, I probably wouldn’t believe any of it (except, maybe, for Trump making the remark) — and I doubt you would either. Trump sentenced to prison for making a (rude, yet) silly remark about his campaign rival’s name? There is simply no way something so unnecessarily dramatic and ridiculously undemocratic happening in the United States of America. I would be right. It isn’t happening in America. It is, however, in India, to Rahul Gandhi — and the result is a grave backslide in democracy that India ought to fear.

Rahul, for some historical context, was born into the prominent Gandhi family, being great-grandson of founder of modern India Jawaharlal Nehru; grandson of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; and son of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia Gandhi (confusingly unrelated to Mahatma Gandhi). Rajiv was Prime Minister between 1984 and 1989, succeeding his assassinated mother Indira, before he himself was assassinated in 1991, prompting his Italian-born wife Sonia to enter politics. She was president of the Indian National Congress/INC (one of India’s two biggest parties, along with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party/BJP) between 1998 and 2017, and 2019 to 2022.

Rahul, who gained an MPhil from Trinity College Cambridge in 1995, became an MP in 2005, and succeeded his mother in leading the INC in 2017. He oversaw the party’s two worst general election performances in their history in 2017 and 2019, failing to even garner the 55-seat threshold of claiming

the ‘opposition party’ moniker, and was succeeded once again by his mother — though he has remained the most prominent figure in his party since, especially given his mother’s Italian origins effectively preventing her from ever becoming Prime Minister.

In 2019, at a campaign rally leading to the election of the same year, Gandhi had said: “Why do all these thieves have Modi as their surname? Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi.” Nirav is an infamous diamond tycoon and wanted fugitive, Lalit a wanted fraudulent cricket administrator, and Narendra, the leader of the BJP, and the Prime Minister of India. Soon after, Purnesh Modi, a BJP representative from a constituency in western state Gujarat (also Narendra Modi’s state), filed a criminal defamation case against Gandhi, stating he had defamed all those with the surname ‘Modi’. And, on 23 March 2023, the Gujarat court convicted Gandhi and sentenced him to two years in jail, constitutionally disqualifying the most prominent of Modi’s opposition leaders from continuing as an MP.

I must concede that the TrumpJoe comparison isn’t entirely sincere. India is known for its classification of groups and peoples known as ‘castes’ — effectively hierarchical groups or orders, but with three millennia of historical basis. Castes arrange rural communities, bestow privilege on upper castes, and repress lower castes - all of which was made significantly worse during colonial rule. For instance, my surname, Menon, also refers to the subcaste of the same name, which is part of the Nair caste from the southern state of Kerala - Menons were typically landlords or accountants (according to both Wikipedia and my grandmother, a retired history teacher).

The caste system explains why Gandhi’s comments were more charged than they would have been had he made them in the US or here in the UK. Think of it as like classism, except with more of a ritualistic or even religious background, elements of segregation and endogamy, and no social mobility or opportunity. Though it is still practised in many parts of India, discrimination based on

the caste system was banned by law in the Indian constitution. Purnesh, along with other members of the BJP in the government, deemed Gandhi’s remark a slur aimed at all those with the surname Modi - in their eyes, a surname that is typically associated with a lower caste, specifically, denunciation of OBCs, or ‘Other Backward Castes’.

Gandhi, however, has argued to the court that it a name associated with no specific caste or community - something the data backs up, with the government’s National Commission for Backward Classes finding no caste named Modi, and the surname used by a disparate group of communities across state and religious lines, ranging from Hindus to Muslims and even Parsis.

As such, the ruling of the court, and, therefore, the BJP’s attempt to remove the INC’s most prominent political leader, must be seen for what it is — the most prominent example of Modi’s India sliding further and further away from democracy. Modi has been no stranger to flagrant democratic sliding since his tenure began in 2014. Ideologically a Hindu nationalist and populist, his rule of India has seen the stripping of citizenship for Indian Muslims and an increase in attacks on persecuted religious minorities, particularly in the wartorn northern state of Kashmir, which has been long subject to a power struggle with neighbouring Muslim Pakistan. His premiership has largely seen the abandonment of the secular ideals of founder Nehru, instead shifting India towards being perceived as a

Hindu nation, despite a fifth of its population being comprised of non-Hindus.

Worryingly, it has also seen the use of state power to torture, arrest and intimidate journalists, media organisations, civil groups and academic critics, greatly undermining his citizens’ freedom of expression. Even the BBC was recently targeted, following a critical documentary that investigated Modi’s tenure as chief minister of Gujarat during violent riots that left over a thousand people, mostly Muslims, dead, deeming him ‘directly responsible’. Modi’s government condemned the documentary as “colonial propaganda”, and for “undermining the sovereignty and integrity of India”, banning it from being shared on social media, and subsequently investigated alleged financial irregularities in the company’s offices in India. Not to mention the undermining of the independence of India’s judiciary and watchdogs and its electoral process.

In light of all this, it’s difficult to see the conviction and disqualification of Gandhi as anything other than an autocratic political manoeuvre.

Why does this matter?

India is frequently referred to in the media as ‘the world’s largest democracy’, but the vast abuses that have been seen under Modi have seriously called this into question. The conviction of Gandhi, therefore, sets a dangerous precedent — that any dissent aimed towards Modi from a political opponent, even dissent in the form of a joke made four years ago, will

not be tolerated by his administration, and will be met with the highest of consequences. Modi remains hugely popular in India, particularly among its Hindu populations, and the weakening of its opposition parties, despite uniting in their criticism of the BJP on the Gandhi issue, will only increase this further. His administration can (and will) continue to boast its foreign policy strengths; under him, India’s ties with the US and Britain have been strengthened, with the latter countries presumably seeking the backing of one of Asia’s superpowers in their ongoing issues with Russia and China. As geopolitical relations between Russia/China and Western powers continue to get worse, the probability that they will speak up and call out the issues affecting India, perhaps their most powerful ally in the region, is slim. The country’s slide to authoritarianism would, ideally, be called out; yet, as long as they remain important to the West, our administrations may continue to ignore it.

With 18% of the Earth’s inhabitants, India is expected to overtake China and become the most populous country in the world within a few months. The removal of Rahul Gandhi as a Member of Parliament may not affect any of us here in the UK. But it signifies a dangerous trend - and the removal of democracy in the biggest nation in the world may end up being seen as nothing short of a global tragedy.

Image credits: Adam Jones via Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023 Features | 21


Voices from Death Row: Lincoln College hosts moving two-day art exhibition

from committing crime was pointless when the criminals did not know the gravity of their sentence.

On Sunday 7 and Monday 8 May, the Oakeshott Room in Lincoln College came alive with the voices of ghosts.

That was what death row exoneree Peter Ouko likened his own experience to, having been sentenced to death in Kenya for the murder of his wife, a crime he did not commit. He was on death row for 18 years. According to him, death row makes you into a ghost, in more than just a legal sense.

Peter was one of four insightful speakers hosted at the Oakeshott Room on Saturday 6 May for the Voices from Death Row exhibition opening event.

Ouko, founder of the youth justice awareness charity Crime Si Poa, was joined by Professor Carolyn Hoyle, Director of the Death Penalty Research Unit within the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford; Parvais Jabbar, co-founder and co-executive director of the Death Penalty Project; and Toshi Kazama, a professional photographer and abolition campaigner.

The exhibition was created by Amelia Inglis and Lucrezia Rizzelli, both DPhil candidates at the Centre for Criminology.

Inglis, a student of New College, is focusing her research on the death penalty in the US. Rizzelli, a Lincoln student, is studying the punitiveness of the criminal justice system in Indonesia. Both projects are

being supervised by Professor Hoyle.

Before the opening event guests were given the chance to get a glimpse of the art that was on display over the two-day temporary exhibition. It featured a mix of styles, including paintings, poems, comic strips, and ornate clothing pieces. One of the most eye-catching pieces was a collage of newspaper clippings related to the death penalty with red handprints painted over the top and “ABOLITION NOW” written at the bottom.

By far the most arresting element of the exhibition was a presentation showing photographs of various death row inmates’ last meals before they were executed. Staring at the favourite foods – or, in some cases, rejected chances for food – of people whose crimes and methods of execution were listed just below was certainly food for thought.

The actual event began with the first two speakers, Hoyle and Jabbar, providing some context to the necessity of increased understanding of death row inmates through exhibitions like this. Hoyle argued that scholarship, combined with the legal expertise that companies like Jabbar’s could provide, was the most effective method of making people more compassionate towards those on death row and advocating for abolition.

When Peter Ouko took to the podium, he showed the audi-

ence a harrowing example of what punitive legal systems like that of his native Kenya could do to innocent people.

Separated from his young children and mourning the loss of his wife, he spent years of his life locked away in a prison that was once named one of the worst in the world, sharing a 7ft x 8ft cell with thirteen other prisoners. They were forced to sleep on their sides because there wasn’t enough space for them to sleep on their backs and there was no toilet.

A change in the prison regime brought Ouko some hope, as the cells became less cramped and educational programs began to be offered to the prisoners. Peter took on any course that was given to him, becoming the first Kenyan to achieve a law diploma while behind bars. He also started an art club at the prison and he and his fellow inmates painted comic strips on the walls with sly messages mocking the wardens to entertain themselves.

When Ouko was finally exonerated, he stated that his first thoughts were of the inmates he would be leaving behind and what he could do for them on the outside. He founded Crime Si Poa, a charity with a substantial footing in Kenya which is now expanding to other countries, to educate young people on the Kenyan legal system to prevent them from offending. This tied into Hoyle’s idea in her speech that the use of the death penalty as a deterrent

The event’s final speaker was Toshi Kazama who originally made a name for himself as a commercial photographer in New York before deciding to focus on using his art to depict the inhumanity of death row. He has photographed inmates, execution chambers, and the families of both victims and perpetrators. During his talk he showed a series of emotionallycharged photos and explained their significance, including photos he took of a child inmate in a Taiwan prison. His work has had powerful aftershocks, with one of his photos being used in the 2005 Roper v. Simmons US Supreme Court case which outlawed the death penalty being given to minors. He also worked closely with Amnesty International Mongolia in the years leading up to Mongolia abolishing capital punishment in 2016.

To say that this event, both the exhibition itself and the speakers who provided some realworld context to the lives of the people behind the artwork, was incredibly moving would be an understatement. Art is one of the many mediums through which expression of thoughts and feelings is possible and it’s important that these inmates, who are essentially treated as already dead by the systems who sentenced them, have their voices heard. The artwork is amazing to see and the stories of the people who created them are truly emotive. Rizzelli summed it up best when she said that the discussion of these harrowing stories is a “necessary heartbreak” to force action in countries where abolition has not been achieved.

Image credit: Amelia Inglis

22 | Culture Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student
Deputy Editor: Charlie Bowden. Section Editors: Johannah Mathew, Jennifer Robinson, Lukas Seifert, Miracle Kalonga Charlie Bowden

The lights, the party, the ballgowns: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour fashion examined

Iremember when (we broke up) the first images of Taylor Swift’s outfits for the Eras Tour were released: I, and many others I know, audibly gasped. The first couple outfits that appeared on my Instagram timeline were the red and black, serpentine, onelegged, Reputation bodysuit, the extravagantly camp, pink sequined Speak Now ballgown and at least one of the flowy, ethereal Folklore dresses. The thing is: they didn’t even need a description of what album they were trying to represent – we just knew.

In collaboration with her longtime stylist Joseph Cassell and many notable designers, Swift has used the Eras Tour (which, as of writing, is approaching its 21st show) to emphasise the themes of evolution and growth, which are nothing new to Swift, with her transformation from the country girl next door during her 2006 debut to her bejewelled aesthetic in her most recent Midnights album. The show begins with a televised clock striking midnight and Swift emerging from the stage a minute in, singing “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince”. She’s in a glimmering silver, blue and pink Versace bodysuit and silver, knee-high

Louboutins, this is later accessorised with an oversized black, bedazzled blazer: we are in the Lover era. Sure, you could figure this out by the six Lover songs that are performed, but the outfit encapsulates this. It references the album’s colour scheme and overall theatricality with the oversized blazer, an item that was used constantly in Lover music videos and during Swift’s red-carpet appearances at the time.

As Lover-era-Taylor disappears into the stage, gold flying sparks rain down over the Lover house. Minutes later, Swift appears through the back of the stage with a gold fringed, Roberto Cavalli dress, with bedazzled knee-high boots and an equally bedazzled acoustic guitar: we’re being dragged head first into Fearless. In alternative shows, the dress has been replaced with another Cavalli gold fringed dress, equally as Fearless themed. The initial outfit references the gold fringed dress Swift wore for earlier performances of Fearless songs and also references the gold hue of the original and Taylor’s Version album covers.

A designer at Roberto Cavalli, Fausto Puglisi, expressed that every piece made for the show “must be eye-catching”

and that they took an “artisanal approach to craftsmanship”. One of the reasons that these dresses are so Fearless coded are through the introduction of pop influences (the dress itself) mixed with country elements (the knee-high cowboy boots), which reflects the evolving nature of Swift’s music and style at the time (2008). The third outfit change shows Taylor in an orange flowy, ruffled Etro gown accompanied later by a breath taking, moss covered grand piano – the witchy Evermore has begun. The piece contains a laced-up bodice, repeated embroidery and is accompanied by red, velvet boots. This compliments the enchanted sonic landscape of Evermore, as the dress allows Swift to float across the stage, almost magically. The snakes are everywhere, Taylor’s footsteps echo across the arena, she’s wearing a onelegged, snake-embellished, Roberto Cavalli bodysuit – it’s Reputation and I don’t think any of us are ready for it. The old Taylors in cages during “Look What You Made Me Do” have already become Internet icons, emphasising the importance of fashion to the different Taylor Swift eras, as each Taylor is defined by her outfit,

more so than even her music, as they are musically silent.

The snake bodysuit encapsulates the most important motifs of Reputation, from the snakes, to the colour scheme, to the use of leather and sequins, it is also very reminiscent of the Reputation tour outfits. The switch from the orange flowy dress of Evermore, to the black and red leather bodysuit of Reputation further defines this album’s cycle, as it shows the abrupt and urgent nature of these songs, especially after Swift’s year long hiatus following the playful, pop atmosphere of the 1989 album and tour.

The lights dim and a snake slithers across the screen, Reputation has made her mark and she is ready to leave.

In her place, purple glitter builds up across the stage and through a lavender haze, Swift is revealed in most possibly one of her most extra outfits to date – a massive, pink sequined tulle Zuhair Murad Couture ballgown. In other shows, this is replaced with either a pink and gold, crystal embellished Nicole and Felice ballgown, or an equally extravagant flowering, sequined tanned dress. And if it’s wonderstruck ballgowns: it’s Speak Now.

According to Murad, the

The Oxford Imps return to the Bullingdon

Improvisational comedy

troupe the Oxford Imps played a knockout first show of term at the Bullingdon on Monday 24th April.

The show, which was split into two halves which were each performed by different groups of ‘imps’, the show consisted of a set of games that, when infused with random audience suggestions, provided an easy vehicle for comedy. The formats were easy enough to understand and their simplicity enabled the Imps to inject their best humour into their performances. For instance, a game in which four Imps shifted around the stage in a square performing four different scenes simultaneously was a highlight of the night. The commitment of the actors to their perfor-

mances allowed the audience to delight in the ridiculousness of what was happening before them, whether it was a classic depiction of a milkman joke or a rumination on the pitfalls of lad culture and female hysteria. Although obviously the entire show was made up on the spot, some of the best moments came from an Imp’s split-second decision to cut in with a killer joke. This was accomplished most successfully when a scene between a priest and the God of the New Testament was interrupted by the Old Testament God played as a campy villain. Another joke that secured a lot of laughs was during a game where the imps had to play the world’s worst jury officer, and a quip about the now-infamous Rebekah Vardy case shut the scenario down before it had even started.

The show’s crowning glory was its big closing number, a church-inspired musical which involved every member of the group. The aforementioned portrayals of God, ridiculous New York accents, and the venerable institution St Hilda’s School for Naughty Naughty Girls all played a part in this ambitious piece of improv. Almost every scene included an accompanying song, displaying the troupe’s sheer talent for coming up with infectious rhymes and memorable choruses on the fly. The show ended with a triumphant air as the imps dashed off stage to raucous applause.

As somebody who had never seen improv before and had been somewhat wary of improv in general given the bad name that improv groups often get on social media, I was thor-

pink sequined tulle ballgown required “over 350 hours of atelier handwork”, which can clearly be viewed from the front, bodice of the dress. Swift only appears on stage for one song, “Enchanted”, whilst wearing this dress, which only exaggerates how camp this piece is. Although ballgowns are referenced in both Fearless and Speak Now, the latter reflects this atmosphere more heavily, especially in the title track and the song “Enchanted” itself. The sheer size of the dress could also reflect the enormous emotions expressed throughout Speak Now and the mark of the end of adolescence, which ballgowns tend to represent in media, through proms, fin de siècle balls and quinceañeras. Enchanted” marks the middle of the Eras Tour, with five eras done and five eras to go. With the extravagance of the song and ballgown, it almost gives the atmosphere of an act one musical finale (e.g. Wicked’s “Defying Gravity”, Frozen’s “Let It Go”, Les Misérables’s “One Day More”, to name a few). And what a great time to leave you Swifties, it was enchanting to meet you. See you in part two!

oughly impressed with what the Oxford Imps delivered on their first show of Trinity term. While not every joke was a killer, the fast-paced action ensured that the audience’s attention was never left to linger on material that didn’t work as well. The prompts and games themselves were well-configured so that even the ones that challenged the Imps the most, such as a guessing game where an imp had to guess what the audience suggested using other performers’ hints, felt natural. There was an ease to the comedy that demonstrated the experience and ingenuity of all the performers, and everybody had their own chance to shine in hosting games or having the spotlight on them in a scenario. Since the show is always different, the jokes I’ve written about will likely never appear

again. You can turn up at the next show and be presented with something completely different that retains the same breeze of humour that accompanied the Imps at the Bullingdon. The performers’ energy and drive to offer something entertaining that all audience members could find funny was the magic that brought their scenarios to life. I would definitely recommend seeing them live even if, like me, you haven’t had much experience of improv comedy.

Image credit: The Oxford Imps

Culture| 23 The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023
Charlie Bowden


A Rat in Paris:

Unless you live in a swamp and your name is Shrek, you probably shouldn’t be writing about rats in the food column of any newspaper. But this isn’t any rat, this rat is culinary. And, I’m not talking about the natural development of French cuisine from escargots and frog legs to some sort of rodent-related dish. I’m obviously talking about Remy from the 2007 Pixar film, Ratatouille.

It has been almost sixteen years since the release of Ratatouille. Since then, the somewhat unlikely story of a young chef controlled by a rat hiding in his hat has reached timeless status, a cultural reference most people are familiar with. Allusions to Ratatouille abound on TikTok and in film.

Last year, in the Oscar-winning Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), the ‘Raccacoonie’ gag about a raccoon controlling the movements of a teppanyaki chef from inside his hat had audiences in stitches.

Not to mention the 2020 TikTok trend, Ratatouille: The Musical, where, in the manic days of the first Covid-19 lockdown, TikTokers produced, popularised and ranked musical theatre-style

songs about Remy the rat. I’ve often wondered what it is about Ratatouille that makes it so timeless. Is Remy simply a mid-noughties Emily in Paris, running around a fictionalised version of the city of love, showing other people how to do their jobs correctly?

Perhaps, we love Remy for his passion for food. From the very beginning of the film we see Remy expressing his excitement about food, and his almost supernatural talent for detecting ingredients with just a sniff. Remy walks on two legs, where his rat brethren walk on four, he prefers to eat ‘real food’, where the other rats are content with scraps and waste left out by humans. Enamoured with human cooking, he looks at the old woman’s TV as chef Gusteau proclaims that ‘anyone can cook, but only the fearless will be great.’ Inspiring stuff indeed. Remy seemingly has ambitions that are beyond what we would usually expect of a rat, and definitely beyond where anyone would be comfortable allowing a rat to go.

Or maybe, we love Remy for defying expectations. Coming from a clan excluded from

society and persecuted by humans, Remy is repeatedly told by his father that he needs to accept his position as hated and hunted. Yet, from the moment of his arrival in the restaurant of the late chef Gusteau, he helps Linguini cook delicious food, generates excellent reviews for the restaurant, and wins over food critic Anton Ego with his cooking. By the end of the film, he has even opened his own restaurant that caters to both rats and humans. Is this the closest we’ve ever come to inter-species peace?

Or, it could be that we adore Remy for democratising cooking. If short king Remy can cook with his small legs and tiny rat paws, surely anybody can. What’s more, his choice of dish for Anton Ego, ratatouille, harks back to the fields of Provence in southern France, where it was first made by peasants to cook their end-of-season harvest of courgettes, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes into a stew.

Cooking a dish with peasant origins surely wasn’t just for the wordplay in the title of the film. Are Pixar trying to make a comment on the elitism of French haute-cuisine and food criticism, by having a rat cook

a peasants’ dish? Is Remy the people’s hero that we didn’t know we needed?

Regardless, Ratatouille is a film replete with deliciously animated food. It is a treat for the eyes and ears. Remy’s love of food is translated through synaesthesia—a symphony of strawberries and cheese combined to create depth, melody and rhythm. Chopped vegetables fly through the air, and dried herbs descend elegantly into a simmering pot. Despite having seemingly found a place (or a hat) in a high-end restaurant, surrounded by highquality ingredients and haute cuisine, Remy can’t help but continue to aid his family. He steals for them and when he is eventually rejected by chef Linguini, he helps them to steal even more.

Remy isn’t, in fact, a midnoughties Emily in Paris, he is her nemesis. He is a rat in Paris, who will never be accepted into the mainstream, but who chases his dreams nonetheless. Perhaps, we don’t love Ratatouille simply for its goofy charm, perhaps the appeal lies in this triumph of the underdog.

Deputy Editor: Jasmine Wilkinson
Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student 24 | Food and Drink Fo od & Drink Food & Drink Food & Drink Food & Drink Food & Drink Food & Drink Food & Drink Food & Drink Food & Drink Food & Dri nk Food & Drink
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The Line, Saudi Arabia Green

Headlining Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2023 project, work has commenced on the construction of a linear smart city known as ‘The Line’. Spanning a 170km stretch across the desert in the north-western corner of the country, its mirrored wall exterior extending up 500m, the city is planned to eventually house 9 million people. The residents of ‘the Line’ will live in a year-round controlled environment alongside artificial intelligence and abundant modern technology designed to improve their quality of life.

This futuristic city will be without cars or roads and their associated emissions, instead prioritising health and wellbeing over infrastructure. It is claimed transport in ‘the Line’ will have zero pollution or wait time, with the promised high speed rail making it possible to travel the entire length of the city in just 20 minutes. Necessary facilities will be within a five minute walk of all residents. With the project

promising to run on 100% renewable energy, the radical approach to reducing Saudi’s carbon footprint has been met with conflicting views. Issues over both environmental impacts and human rights have caused controversy and the project, if it is even possible to complete, is set to face many challenges along the way.

HRH Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia announced the design of The Line in July 2022 as part of a project known as NEOM. NEOM will be a smart megacity in Saudi’s Tabuk province and is being advertised as a city of ‘unparalleled social and economic experimentation’. The project is to be funded by the Saudi government and Public Investment Fund along with outside companies and investors. However, building an entire new city may prove to be more of an issue than it is a solution to diversifying Saudi’s economy and addressing environmental concerns.

‘The Line’ will consist of diverse, open spaces and be built on multiple levels with public parks, businesses, schools and housing, following a new concept known as zero gravity urbanism. Residents will be able to move through the space in three dimensions, creating a much higher density city, allowing the rest of the landscape to remain pristine and untouched and avoiding urban sprawl. The city itself will have a population density of 260,000 people per square kilometre, ten times that of Mumbai, which is currently one of the densest populated cities in the world.

Whilst the aims of the city include no pollution, zero stress related disease, and an increase in disposable income to promote better mental health, multiple issues have come to light about the reality of the project. The environmental sustainability of the building process has been brought into question as more information about the ambition and complexity of the project has been

released. The material needed for the structure to withstand wind strength could use up to 1.8 billion tonnes of embodied carbon according to Philip Oldfield from the built environment school at the University of New South Wales. This exceeds the annual emissions of most European countries and, despite the emission free end goal, is by no means climate friendly or acting to reduce Saudi’s carbon footprint. Further to this, the end structure itself will act as a giant mirrored barrier across the middle of the desert, potentially impacting migration paths of numerous bird species and causing a danger to the native animal populations.

The environmental impacts of the construction process, however, are not the only cause for concern. The Tabuk region that will be home to the new city of NEOM has been inhabited for centuries by the Huwaitat tribe. The tribe is now being forcibly evicted from their homes to make space for the construction, causing the unwilling re-

location of over 20,000 people. Whilst forced relocation for public projects is not uncommon in the nation, speaking out against the process is not advised and human rights concerns have been brought into question after the recent death of tribal activist Abdulrahim al-Huwaiti who was protesting the development.

With residents set to start moving in in 2024, an incredibly optimistic goal for such a futuristic design, the city will operate under Islamic Shariah law like the rest of the nation. Cameras and computers will be set around the automated city, able to track citizens and notify the government of any crimes. The city’s judges will report directly to the King. The opaqueness of the legal system is discouraging investment from foreign companies and former NEOM employees have said that financial issues, along with technological concerns, may stand in the way of these ambitious, futuristic plans becoming a reality.

10 Days of Controversial Climate Protests in Ber lin

From Wednesday, April 19th till Friday, April 28th, hundreds of activists from German campaign group Letzte Generation (Last Generation) blocked key roads by glueing themselves to the asphalt in the German capital, bringing rush hour traffic to a standstill in central parts of the city. ‘Some 33 points’ were blocked - a spokeswoman for the Berlin police told Agency France Presse (AFP) - including the busy A100 motorway, which elicited around 500 police officers to be deployed across Berlin to deal with the protesters. These efforts by Letzte Generation, who have been active for over a year, represent their most intense effort yet, continuing their primary tactic of street sit-ins, glueing their hands to the road’s surface to block cars, which has earned them the nickname Klimakleber or “climate stickers”. Other

protests have included throwing mashed potato at art in galleries, throwing fake oil at the German constitution and spray-painting political party headquarters.

The group wants to push the government to do more to curb climate change, as activist Raphael Thelen stated ‘We’re bringing the city to a standstill so the government moves.’ And indeed, they are not alone in that desire, with recent surveys indicating that four-fifths of Germans stated they want the government to take more and swifter action on the climate emergency.

The main action that the Letzte Generation would like to see is the creation of a ‘climate social council.’ This institution would bring 150 Germans theoretically representing every level of society together to work out realistic ideas as to how Germany can end the use of fossil fuels in a

‘socially just’ manner by 2030, The council would then submit these solutions to the German parliament. Letzte Generation spokesperson Aimée van Baalen justifies this demand as ‘Citizens’ councils are already provided for in the coalition agreement,’ so that they simply want the government ‘to make one of the councils currently in the planning stage the social council on climate that we are calling for.

The groups’ tactics are controversial, however. Members of the German government have been increasingly vocal in their criticism of the group’s actions, with spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann telling reporters:

“We just think the path taken by the climate movement, or some of these activists, is the wrong path for drawing attention to this.’ Some more extreme members of government have compared the group to the Taliban, the Nazis and

the RAF, a twentieth-century German terrorist group.

The Greens, part of Scholz’ ruling coalition, are particularly notable critics. The party’s leader in parliament, Britta Hasselman, said on broadcaster ARD the blockages were ‘not productive,’ as the party was doing ‘what it can do’ within the coalition, while the Green economy minister, Robert Habeck, told NTV that ‘This protest doesn’t win a majority for climate protection; instead it irritates people, divides society, and in that sense it’s not a helpful contribution to climate protection;

Even within the wider population, Letzte Generation is not well-received. As reported by AP News, on Friday 28th April, at a blockade in the north of Berlin, though many drivers simply waited patiently for police to clear the road, some hurled abuse at the activists, calling them “terrorists” and

“scum.” One motorist who was interviewed, Frank Silzle, said that while he agreed with the group’s aims, he thought its tactics to be ‘counterproductive,’ explaining ‘I understand their cause completely, but the way they’re going about it is sadly causing a counter reaction within the population that is very, very harmful to the cause.’ He is not alone in this sentiment, a recent survey showing 86% of participants are against Letzte Generation’s protest methods.

Letzte Generation claims membership and general support for the group has only increased the longer it has been protesting. ‘Sure, there are those who insult or criticize us’ activist Theodor Schnarr said, ‘but I’ve got the feeling that more and more people are coming to us on the streets and saying they think this is a good thing.’ Continued on

The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023 26 | Green

Penrose and the search for “Einstein”: the story of the aperiodic monotile

In 1961 Hao Wang conjectured that there exists a finite number of tiles of different shapes which can only fill an infinite plane by never repeating. To see what “no repetition” means in this case, imagine you have two copies of the infinite plane, one on top of the other. No repetition means there is no amount by which you can move the upper plane so that it maps directly onto the one below it. This problem is known as aperiodic tiling.

In 1966 one of Wang’s students, Robert Berger, produced the first set of “Wang tiles” - a set which consisted of 20,426 different shapes! Over the next few decades this number was slowly whittled down until finally, in 1997, Oxford’s Roger Penrose showed that there is a single pair of tiles (now known as the kite and dart) which tile the plane only aperiodically. These became known as “Penrose tiles”. These were so wellknown that later in 1997 Penrose sued the Kimberly Clark Corporation over the pattern on their quilted toilet paper which closely resembled Penrose tiling. The matter was set-

tled out of court.

Since 1997 there has been a quest for an aperiodic monotile, a single tile which fills an infinite plane without repeating. Several candidates have been proposed but they all challenge in some way the concept of a tile, tiling, or aperiodicity. On 20 March 2023, a paper was published in arXiv claiming to have found the first clear “Einstein” (German: “one stone”)

. David Smith, Joseph Samuel Myers, Craig S. Kaplan, and Chaim Goodman-Strauss have proposed the “hat polykite” and it is beautiful.

So how do you show that something infinite never repeats? The authors showed that no matter how you arrange the tiles, it is always possible to divide it up so that each tile belongs to one of four possible clusters (shown below) and that the edges on adjacent clusters can only match up in certain ways. This first step in the proof is done on a computer so instead of proving this mathematically, the authors just had to prove their algorithm was correct. The next step is to show that when these clusters

are tiled with each other they form groups called metatiles, which have the same shapes as the clusters. We can do this repeatedly to find larger and larger “supertiles”. Thankfully this is where the proof stops because the authors would have run out of words for “bigger tiles”. Since there is no translational symmetry among the original clusters, there is no translational symmetry among the metatiles, or the supertiles. It is rather surprising how simple the basics of the proof are but what may be even more surprising is that the hat polykite suggested by the authors is just one member of a continuous family of shapes that are all aperiodic and that all tile the plane in the same way. And the hat polykite is not even the simplest! An even simpler member of the family is shown below. The authors have provided a hypnotising animation which transitions smoothly between the members of this family of shapes (available on the website accompanying their paper). This paper is historic for a number of reasons. Firstly and most obviously, it concludes a

search which has been ongoing for decades. Secondly, the conclusion of the search was made possible only by the power of modern computers. While it has been known for a long time that computers would spark many revolutions in every branch of maths and science, this is a clear-cut piece of evidence that this is already the case and will almost certainly continue to be the case as computers become more powerful. Thirdly, the website which accompanies the paper is a wonderful example of do-it-yourself science. The paper is easy to read, the animation is available on You-

tube, and the source code used by the authors is free to download. The power of computers lies not just in opening up new branches of maths and science, but also in opening up existing branches to those that couldn’t previously access it. This paper is a ground-breaking achievement. Congratulations to Smith, Myers, Kaplan, and GoodmanStrauss.

Image: The gray hat polykite (taken from “An Aperiodic Monotile” by David Smith, Joseph Samuel Myers, Craig S. Kaplan, and Chaim GoodmanStrauss)

‘He literally has zero clue what he’s doing’ Twitter’s verification purge sparks criticism and concern

On 20th April, Twitter officially retired its ‘Legacy Verification’ feature, removing the blue tick identifier from hundreds of thousands of accounts. The decision, though hinted at for a matter of months, was officially confirmed by Twitter’s CEO, Elon Musk, on 11th April.

As early as November 2022, Musk had publicly revealed that changes to Twitter’s verification system — which previously aimed to distinguish notable public figures who might otherwise be at risk of impersonation — were in the works. “All verified individual humans will have same blue

check,” confirmed the business magnate in a reply to a now-suspended user, “as the boundary of what constitutes ‘notable’ is otherwise too subjective.” The result was a subscription model, costing $8 per month as part of the social media site’s ‘Twitter Blue’ service, which provided the user’s account with an identical blue tick. The sole remaining signifier of notability was a brief text pop-up which read: “This account is verified because it’s notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category.” In December, this was modified to inform the reader that “This

is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.”

In the wake of these decisions was a wave of imitations, from an American pharmaceutical company excitedly announcing that “insulin is free now” to a pseudo-Elon Musk lamenting that “my wife left me.”

It was not until 3rd April, however, that Twitter rendered the checkmarks of legacy verified users and Twitter Blue subscribers entirely indistinguishable, following an announcement that legacy verification was to come to an end over the coming weeks. Following this action, which exacerbated fears of malicious impersonation,

The New York Times publicly announced it would not pay for its Twitter verification and subsequently had its checkmark removed — although it has since obtained a golden checkmark available to organisations for a fee of $1,000/ month. Other legacy verified accounts, however, retained their checkmarks in spite of the announcement, which was apparently unimplemented. After weeks of delay, the change was finally rolled out on 20th April, to mixed reactions. Many celebrities who had been critical of Musk publicly refused to pay the monthly fee for re-verification. Data provid-

ed to Mashable suggests that Musk’s controversial gambit has not been particularly effective; of the approximately 400,000 legacy verified users who lost their blue tick, there was a measly net gain of 28 new Twitter Blue subscribers in the immediate aftermath of the long-planned purge. Because verification no longer meaningfully distinguishes the user from potential impersonators any more than their unique handle, it isn’t entirely clear what the purpose of re-verification would be...

Continued on our webpage by Piers MUCKLEJOHN

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OXYOU May Day-Drinking

May Day celebrations start not with singing church boys, but with joining the Atik queue. It was longer than that of Spirit and Thirst, but no one was inside either of them so it’s not really a fair comparison. Behind me came a circus of puffers, and within those black and navy coats stood inebriated folk from my college forgetting who they usually speak to. We spoke about our hopes and fears, both concerned making it through to 5am, before passing through Atik’s airport of security checks.

The lights went green and I was handed my goods by a man surprisingly happy for 1am. I was then told to go inside by someone less content. To be fair, Oxford students on a night out may resemble puppies leaving a pen, ready to climb all over the furniture. After all, searching Does Oxford have a good student life begets “If you study here, you will receive a great education – something which lasts a lifetime.” A simple “no” would have been quicker. Here’s to the staff who had to endure this for

two hours longer, and on the Lord’s day.

With a stamp secured, we filtered into the bottom floor. The cheesy floor, named after its smell. We larped as sardines sizzling to Carly Rae Jepsen. My group did, at least, whilst the one next to ours pretend ed it was a trampo line park – bounc ing like kids do on a mattress. Unimpressed with jump nation, we went for our first drink. Not sure if maybe I have been confined to the pen for too long, but the ‘new’ glasses were an immediate win –until the Jägers were ordered, which were just mixed.

We then headed for my personal favourite: the hip hop room. My friends aren’t undercover enough to listen to Snoop Dogg, so we swiftly went to the pink “TikTok” room with its accompanying bingo caller. Shout out to


Happy Coronation weekend to all, Rordon hopes the mums reading had a blast! It has been a rather royal week here in Oxford, having celebrated a returning veteran in Emma Watson, an army of soldiers at New, and the coronation of a King who would rather be a tampon. There was May Day too but that’s a celebration of the working class, and they don’t want anything to do with royalty. Hell, they don’t even want there to be royalty. Rordon will reserve judgement out of fears

of right-winged readers and Ali Khosravi. Enjoy the quiche-less roasts.


Rordon spent the day eating scones in his JCR because who the hell wants a broad bean quiche. “It’s such a bad idea”, Rordon spoke of the quiche and monarchy. “A better dish selection was needed, and it’s hard when you know that Diana would have pulled through.” Rordon speculates a coronation burger, or even a royal pizza, may have got him interested. The only reason he

whoever let that DJ practice his counting over the microphone, hoping he gets past three next week. This supplemented a non-vape-induced fog and pink flower illuminations: the

by an alarm. “Evacuate the building”, I thought I heard. Needing to write this piece, I was ready to save myself. So, as with Parliament, we said no more to TikTok and headed for the corridor. There, we were the only people concerned. The stairs revealed no sign of movement on the cheesy floor. Perhaps it was an April fools one month too late, or perhaps it was just part of the song. I am still unsure but, with security that lip-synch to all the songs, it was hard to truly know. We traded safety with tequila, and headed back down-

second too long. Go back, check your footage. Maybe I am there trying to turn your phone into stone. But, in my defence, this isn’t the Oxford people want to see on your socials. It’s not like the dining scenes in Harry Potter. It’s more like the ones with the dementors, with that role being taken by third years trying to suck the youth out of freshers.

universal symbol of May. I was there appreciating the design of the event, which speaks as to why, if my night was a movie, the rating would be U.

The music was interrupted

went to his JCR was to escape the clangour of church bells. He arrived to find it overflowing with paper napkins and bunting borrowed from OUCA. Also quarter sandwiches he can only presume were cut by Penny Mordaunt. Rordon quickly realised that he was wearing red, white and blue, and hoped that no one thought it was deliberate. His college never had a photo of the Queen to remove though, and it quickly became apparent that it was a satirical watch along. A frustrating watch, nonetheless. It’s a shame there’ll be another so soon.

A May-Day special was heightened CCTV. Reports say that plants were hired to film people sing what they really really want, and who they wanna dance with. Phones were out, and they grew like Gremlins. Apologies to the seven iPhones lenses I looked at for a


As Magdalen prepares to strike, Rordon is receiving new intel on New’s plans to defend their college. Instead of “wasting funds on more plays” (not Rordon’s words), the New College JCR has decided to fill the armoury with Nerf Elite Disruptor Blasters. To the New Ninjas, Rordon recommends acquiring Nerf Pro Gelfire Mythics. With no need to pick up bullets post-use, Rordon believes it would add a layer of efficiency sure to hold back the Magdalen Marauders.

We side-stepped to Shakira past three am but, as this is usually closing time, my feet and soul started to tire. People around me were retreating from 4, but I knew that I hadn’t gone this long without my retainer to call it quits. Not on a bank holiday, celebrating the working class, trade unions and other themes close to Oxford’s heart. I made it to 5am because I respect to the workers, since someone needs to. My hopes had come to fruition and I was finally ready for the church bells, street-dancing and, most of all, my bed.

Image credit: Maurício Mascaro

Asking the New Welfare Rep for comments on the matter, Rordon was moved by the way in which the college has come together. “After a hard first two weeks, students have been struggling”, the Welfare Rep solemnly said, “exams are on the horizon, and no one feels summer body ready. We must unite and bring spirits up.” On being asked how pacifists have responded, the Welfare Rep said they’ve been transferred to Wadham until the dust settles.

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student 30 | OxYou
Deputy Editor: Niall Hall Section Editors: Milo Dennison, Lukas Seifert Rordon Gamsay

Formula 1’s American avarice

Formula One (F1) is as about as international as sports get. Yes, tennis has got its foot in the door on three continents, and sure, the World Cup sees as many international teams competing in one place as possible. But Formula One is the most international when it comes to competing across both a unified category and the globe. Naturally, therefore, its promoters are bound to want to break into one of the biggest economies and consumers of sport, the promised land, the home of the American Dream. The USA.

That being said, F1 is no stranger to both American drivers, nor to racing in America itself. Indeed, a race in the US has been a staple of the Formula One calendar for the majority of the sport’s illustrious 70 year existence. The concept of different tracks being used to stage the event is hardly a new one either; in fact, 11 tracks have hosted the US Grand Prix in some format since the sports inception. Aside from a five year hiatus between 2008-12, (along with COTA’s unsurprising absence on the 2020 calendar), the US Grand Prix has enjoyed its fair share of success at both Indianapolis and, more recently, the Circuit of the Americas, for most of the last two decades.

However, the 2016 season was one of change. Not only did Nico Rosberg disrupt Lewis Hamilton’s streak of dominance in ‘equal machinery’, as he so vehemently likes to remind us all. It also saw the end of Bernie Ecclestone’s tenure as top dog, and the introduction of a fancy new owner – Liberty Media, an American media conglomerate that handed over an eye-watering US$4.6 billion for the Formula One Group in its entirety. Unsurprisingly, the intervening seven years have seen a wealth of changes to both technical regulations, and to the ‘watchability’ of the sport. From new in-helmet camera angles to TV-graphic revamps (love you AWS), Liberty Media has transformed what has historically been a peripheral sport for rich-kids, techies and neeky petrolheads, to a palatable octane-fuelled and attractive experience for novice and veteran fans alike. For this, the Liberty Media era can only be praised. However, the view westward to the coast of the eastern seaboard and beyond looks to be stretching further than Austin’s one race a year. The turning point came in the chaotic 2020 season where, for the first time in the modern era, multiple races were held in the same country, and often, track. The

usual 20+ race calendar was hastily rearranged with a mere 18 fixtures where local restrictions would allow, but the season went ahead nonetheless.

“The precedent had been set – F1 was ready for multiple races in the same country.”

But those were decidedly unprecedented times. Despite the success Chase Carey and co. brought about in 2020, they should operate with caution. On the one hand, it would be unfair and, ultimately, hypocritical to criticise the budding phenomenon of ‘regional hot-points’ for race destinations – just look at the Middle East which now serves as host to three races on the calendar after last season’s addition of Jeddah. Money talks. Especially the sort of sums that Saudi Aramco can offer in exchange for turning a blind eye to the country’s less-thanstellar human rights record. Though the races in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are not without their problems, with Abu Dhabi having been consistently criticised by drivers and pundits alike as ‘boring’, the sums of money promoters offer (not to mention lucrative sponsorship deals) affirm these races as attractive prospects nevertheless. The oil-rich Arab

states enjoy essentially infinitely deep pockets when it comes to motorsport, and so, F1 must be vigilant when approaching America if it is to succeed in a similar manner. That’s not to say however, that the recent addition of the Miami Grand Prix in 2022 was without its success. Instead, it proved to be quite the contrary, with an alleged 243,000 spectators attending over the 3-day event, and an apparent ‘broadcasting success’ of 23 million US viewers. These numbers are still a little way off the roughly 400,000 fans that descend on Silverstone every July, but are an encouraging start for the race in what was its inaugural year. The effect the race’s resounding success has had on promoters’ confidence is undoubtedly partly responsible for the revival of the Las Vegas Grand Prix from the 2023 season onwards, bringing the total to three races on US soil this season. The blazing neon glitz of the iconic strip is to play host to the penultimate race of the season, and looks to be doing so until at least 2025. With elite hotel packages ranging from $1 million to $5 million having been announced ahead of time, the race organisers certainly look to be seeking inspiration from their Monegasque

counterparts. Whether the event ultimately stacks up against both the glamour and racing pedigree of the Monaco GP, remains to be seen. But what fans need to accept is that Formula One is evolving. What was once a sport defined by its devotion to racing over affectatious glamour, by definition, limits itself and its potentially global audience. What Liberty Media has done with the sport has, on the whole, been good for it. They have injected it with a new life force, narrowed the margins between the top teams and brought in waves of new fans of which the US contingent has served as a significant proportion. Though that being said, however good races like Las Vegas might be for the pecuniary interests of the owners, they would be foolish to forget their original fans and risk alienating them from a sport many grew up with. By all means extend the calendar and attract more American interest, but should the sport abandon its roots, then its future looks very uncertain indeed.

Image description: A Formula One Race with a Red Bull driver in front

Image credit: Photo by Morio via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Oxford Student | Friday 12 May 2023
Sport | 31

Deputy Editor: Haochen Wang

Section Editors: Bradley Beck, Patrick Groves, Eleanor Luxton


The Worcester College 5-a-side tournament

Worcester College has a history of widespread sporting participation, stemming from the presence of pitches on the college site, which brings sport to its members’ doorsteps. This leaves an interesting scenario as Trinity term arrives, with many unwilling to depart from these sporting habits. Worcester’s annual 5-a-side football tournament fills this void in a perfect way, providing a chance for both regulars and newcomers to engage in a relaxed competition. With mixed-gender teams being a mandatory requirement and squads of every year group, as well as staff, taking part, the tournament is accessible for a range of people far beyond the standard pool of avid footballers. Sunday 30th April saw the most recent edition of the competition, and my first experience of it. While my team suffered a group-stage exit, our stint saw Chiara Stark, a first-year English student, take her first steps towards a career in college football. With no first-year women joining the college’s football team this year, the event was

a catalyst for future participation. Chiara gave the following account of the experience: “Even as someone who can barely kick a ball around, joining the 5-a-side team has been an enjoyable experience – both because of the games themselves and the team spirit. With many of us stuck in libraries, our departments, or our rooms all day, training for the tournament was a lovely opportunity to get out into the sunshine during Trinity and unwind for a bit. If you get the chance, it’s a great way to exercise while having fun – you might even find yourself getting swept up in the competitive spirit, overwhelming passion and college patriotism.” The build-up to the tournament saw weeks of negotiation unfold, with students who had never played football being encouraged to fill vital squad places. Vishil Devshi, a first-year Physics student, was a key part of this process – drawing in students from across the year-group and undoubtedly influencing their future participation in college sport. The relaxed nature of the competition allowed


Sports editor Bradley Beck discusses how the tournament is a model of sporting inclusivity

Vishil’s return to the pitch after many months of rest following a knee ligament injury –quoted to be a return “on the same level as Henry to Arsenal ”. While still out of breath, an ambitious Vishil described his thoughts on the competition: “We weren’t expecting to come here and win everything, and we are the underdogs, but I’m seeing lots of improvements out on the pitch. The tournament has been great fun and a good day out – and we’re aiming to win it next year.”

The tournament’s debut edition came soon after the relaxation of pandemic regulations, with the cancellation of both college and university sport throughout the previous year leaving students with minimal opportunity for competition.

Thomas Bithell, now a fourthyear chemist, has been a key figure in the conception and subsequent running of the tournament over its five editions. Thomas described this year’s event as having “the largest number of teams and quality of players we’ve ever had”. Interviewed at half-time while 1-0 up in the tourna-

ment’s final, Thomas stated he was “seven-and-a-half minutes from glory” – having never won the competition. Tactical clearances into the nearby hedges allowed time for this glory to be achieved, and the prizes of wine and mini-rolls to be earned – an “incredible feeling” for Thomas. When asking participants for a one-word summary of the tournament, answers ranged from “fantastic”, to “scandalous”, to “revenge” – often depending on the outcome of the player’s most recent fixture. No matter the immediate response, the overarching view is that Worcester’s 5-a-

An ode to the Manchester United teams of 2007-2009

Since 1992 when the Premier League was founded in its current intonation, only one team has won three league titles in a row; Manchester United. A mythology still exists and surrounds the first time United did this, between 1999-2001, as the treble winning side of Yorke, Cole, Solskjaer, Scholes, Keane, Schmeichel, Beckham, Neville, Iriwn, Giggs; the list is endless of the world class players still remembered for a fighting spirit which saw some of football’s greatest comebacks.

The moment which defined this team was the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in 1999 at the Camp Nou. Trailing by one goal in the dying minutes, Beckham delivered two corners in added time which were finished by Sheringham and Solskjaer respectively for United to win 2-1. It was a symbol of the fighting spirit of Manchester United,

and the greatest validation of Sir Alex Ferguson, who found himself deified in an instant as one of the greatest managers in football at the time.

Being born in 2002, I sadly missed out on watching that team play, but grew up as a United supporter hearing of this ‘golden generation’. Instead, the first team I remember watching was the United team that won three titles in a row for the second time, between 2007-2009. It was a team of superstars, which perhaps explains why as a team they are remembered in a far different way from the other. History remembers it instead as the formative years of breakthrough for Cristiano Ronaldo, the peak of Wayne Rooney, the retirement party of the youth players or ‘class of 92’ who underpinned the 1999-2001 team. Many of the players from this team are remembered as the greatest in their positions

in modern history; Ferdinand and Vidic as the centre back partnership of dreams, Evra as one of the pioneers of the modern wing back, Carrick as the ultimate anchor which every attack was built from. In hindsight, the depth of this team is quite remarkable.

side tournament is a brilliant event that brings members from across the college together. The low-maintenance, laidback style of the competition allows students to introduce themselves to college sport in the best way possible. Making the most of Trinity term’s improved weather and long days may be the best approach for encouraging inclusivity in sport and should be considered as a method of raising participation across the University.

Image credit: Bradley Beck

As a child, I didn’t know how lucky I had it until this generation was gone, the definitive moment of the end of an era being Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 after winning his 13th league title as United manager. When I was watching the Champions League final in 2008 between United and Chelsea, which I watched from a caravan in Devon, I didn’t know it would the last time

Manchester United would win that trophy or that so many of the players in that team would be gone in the next few years through a combination of retirements and big-money transfers. It was the last moment that my club would be the dominant team that people had come to expect them to be. They were unmatched in the league, domestic cups, and most importantly in European competitions. Had it not been for an unlucky game against eventual winners Portsmouth in the FA Cup Quarter Final, this team would have won another treble in 2008.

I fell in love with Manchester United, and, as a result, football, because of this generation in the club. As a child and even now, these players were my heroes. I would model my playing style on some of these players when I played football in various times, firstly Dimitar Berbatov who still remains my

favourite player, and now as an adult who has realised they can’t play as a striker, I aspire to the fearlessness of Nemanja Vidic as a defender. As with so many other interests and hobbies, a love of certain sports can depend so much on these formative experiences and I am certain so much of my passion for football is a legacy of my formative experiences. While the treble winning team of that previous generation may be remembered more in the mythology of this historic club, for me, it will always be this later generation who will be the real heroes of football.

Image description: A photo of Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium

Image credit: Steve Collis via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Friday 12 May 2023 | The Oxford Student
“As a child, I didn’t know how lucky I had it until this genera- tion was gone”
32 | Sport

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