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How high can Oxford University rise in the silliness table? It may be top already..

Tom Winnifrith
Thursday 10 May 2018

I do not look back at my old University with some of the unbridled love that others show. Indeed, at times of stress, my nightmare is of again sitting finals and being even more at sea than I was the first time around. About once a week James Delingpole remarks about how our alma mater has gone to the dogs and, he has a point, it does seem to be a nest of silliness these days.

This week we have seen the Geography department take down a picture of one of its more famous graduates as part of an exhibition celebrating famous women who attended the University. It had been "obscured" by critical messages, that is to say it had been "plastered" with messages about issues including immigration, Windrush and Brexit.

A university spokesman said removing Theresa May's picture was "absolutely not done to make a political point". Nope it was taken down because students who do not believe in free speech had kicked up a fuss and so effectively "no platformed" the portrait.

In the same week we learn that male students at the formerly all women's college Somerville had engaged in a "dirty protest" that is to say they had pissed on the floors of what are now unisex urinals in protest at the removal of male and female only loos. This removal was done in order not to offend transgender students.

Given that, even at Somerville, there cannot be that many transgender students (trans folks in Britain being fewer in number than those identifying as Jedi knights) so surely this loo changing business is excessive. I stand by my reactionary view that, if my daughter gets into Oxford, I'd rather she did not encounter someone with a penis zipping himself up in the toilets even if he does identify as a woman. I am not sure I'd piss on the floor to make my point but since I imagine that it is impossible to debate the issue without being termed a bigot, as happened to poor uber liberals Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer, maybe pissing on the floor is now the only option.

Then there are proposals to make exams longer so that women get better marks, constant demands to tear down statues of dead white men who gave vast sums to Oxford often allowing living non-white people their only chance to attend. Christian Union's get banned from college fresher's fairs since they might offend LGBT folks. Natch the Islamic society faces no such problems.

The whole institution is just a nest of silliness, desperate not to offend anyone unless they straight, Christian or a Tory in which case they deserve to be offended in a ritualistic manner..

The big storm right now is about how Oxford can ensure that more state school kids attend. The high point for state school attendance was in the mid six when more progressive dons in charge of entrance encountered more bright and well taught kids than ever before from state schools, that is to say grammar schools. Then in the name of progress, grammar schools were scrapped, and fewer state school kids went to Oxford. It was not that the Dons became less progressive. Au contraire. Most Oxford Dons are ball-breakingly PC. It is just that there were fewer decent candidates from non public schools.

Those state school kids that did get in were often incredibly posh. I remember one terrible brat who was in my year and my college who made great play about how she had attended a London state school. Yeah right, deprived inner city kid and all that. Except that it soon emerged that her dad was an old Etonian, ex Labour MP and she grew up in a mansion. But heck her presence and that of Guardian employed Russia conspiracy fantasising lunatic Carole Cadwalladr from the poshest comprehensive in Cardiff - its great if mummy and daddy can afford to buy into the catchment area - boosted the stats making them pretty meaningless anyway.

But Oxford will ensure that more kids from posh state schools, where mummy and daddy can afford to buy £2 million houses as "the entrance test," are admitted so making the quotas look better. The real problem of course is that we need to bring back grammar schools and sack some of the half witted teachers and head teachers who make the UK state education system such an A* for everybody complete and utter joke. But will anyone at progressive Oxford dare to say that, in an institution where, these days, even portraits get no platformed for being, vaguely, right wing?

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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