Today the ancient traditions of Oxford were on full display. The streets were filled with new students in their sub fusc for matriculation. “Matriculation” in Oxford-speak is the ceremony whereby students gain official membership of the University of Oxford. Before today, each student was only a member of their respective college. However, once a student “matriculates” they then become a member of the University of Oxford for life. Matriculated students will always be able to access the Oxford libraries and allowed to vote in the election of the Chancellor. By matriculating, students become part of the University of Oxford along with the other students that have done so over the course of the previous eight hundred years.
Matriculation dates back to the medieval requirement that every Regent Master should keep a register. These were the Masters of Arts who taught undergraduates and who formed the main ruling body of the University. The register established who were the “real” students and deserving of the University’s protection in the frequent “town versus gown” fights. It also established a record of a student’s progress through their courses. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, once the colleges began to admit undergraduates, matriculation became a formal university ceremony.
For new students (known as “freshers”), attendance at the matriculation ceremony is compulsory. If you do not matriculate, you can never graduate. The dress code for matriculation is extremely important and rigorously enforced. Pursuant to University regulations, the required dress for matriculation is sub fusc. For men, this requires a dark suit, dark socks and black footwear, a white shirt, white collar and white bow tie, a mortar board and gown.
|Me in full sub fusc. Most students buy their cap, gown, and bow tie from local retailers. However, my bow tie was extra special because it was given to me by a client before I left Texas. Thanks again Golly, Amy, Julia, and Luci!|
|All students matriculate with their college. I started my day by meeting with the other Kellogg freshers at 9:30 AM, where I signed the official Kellogg College register.|
|We then all walked together to the Examination Schools, where the ceremony took place.|
|And then we waited...|
|As the undergrads who had already finished their ceremony partied New Orleans-style from their balconies...complete with bottles of wine and champagne at 10:30 AM!|
Several matriculation ceremonies are held throughout the day, with several colleges matriculating at each ceremony. The heads of the colleges sit at the front of the hall, while the students stand on two sides of the room separated by a center aisle. Once the ceremony starts, the Vice Chancellor of the University (complete with silver scepter) enters down the the aisle. The college heads then bow to the Vice Chancellor and ask him in Latin to admit the students from their college to the University. The Vice Chancellor then replies, "Scitote vos in Matriculam Universitatis hodie relatos esse, et ad observandum omnia Statuta istius Universitatis, quantum ad vos spectent, teneri" (Know that you are today added to the Roll of the University and bound to obey all the statutes of this University so far as they apply to you). Then the Vice Chancellor gives a short speech (in English, thankfully) and the students are dismissed. The entire ceremony takes less than fifteen minutes.
|Luckily, I was on the very front row so I got to see and hear all of the action. Photography was prohibited, but I was able to sneak a quick photo.|
|After the ceremony, we all headed back to Kellogg College for a group photo of the Fightin' Roos.|
|Getting everyone organized for the picture was a painfully long process...so I took the opportunity to exhibit some of my stand-up comedy skills.|
|Fiona is the other Law and Finance student in Kellogg College. She is from Ireland and one of the funniest people I have ever met. Also, her boyfriend Collin is a professional chef so Leah and I are working hard on an invitation to dinner.|
|At long last, I was able to meet up with my personal photographer, cheering section and beautiful wife!|