Oxford Traditions

Kevin: So, there is also a lot of customs concerning dress at Oxford. For instance, we are required to wear black tuxedos with a white formal shirt and white bowtie when taking our final examinations. No one really knows why this came to be or why it is still practiced, although it clearly relates to the more formal and conservative era in which the university was first established. It also applies to woman, although they can wear black skirts and sweats with a white blouse. Ummm…apparently before I got here the college proctors would always wear their cap and gowns. They do still wear them when proctoring examinations. Again, I think it coincides with the university’s value of tradition and history. I guess I’d say by continuing to practice all these little customs, it is a sign of respect to the university and what it stands for.

Kevin thoughtfully highlighted the university’s impulse to continue to honor its past by preserving the university’s customs, even through the minor folkloric exhibitions of dress. A New York Times article from 1996, similarly draws upon Oxford’s cemented practice of traditions. The author, Penelope Lively, reflects upon the folklore that formed a significant part of her alma mater’s culture. She revisited Oxford after some time and found that not much had changed. The examination dress custom still remained, students still used the same onamastics when referencing the campus’ structures, and the student’s spirit and respect for the perpetuation of the traditions continued to invigorate the Oxford culture.[1] Thus, both in this article and in Kevin’s more recent account of the smaller customs at the university, the significance of Oxford’s folklore practices is clearly an extensive attribute to the university’s identity. Not only is the university united by the common participation in these traditions and likewise, connected to it’s history through such participation, the continuation of these customs demonstrates a sense of respect for the education Oxford is providing.

[1] GOING BACK: OXFORD BY PENELOPE LIVELY New York Times (1923-Current file); Sep 15, 1996; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2007) pg. SMA17