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Questions for Hertford College’s woke Principal about the dirty oiks and other matters

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 17 March 2021

The last time I mentioned my old college was noting how it was hoisting a lecture in which my fellow alumnus, Carole Cadwalladr, spelt out “the degradation of British journalism”. No sniggering at the back please! So what if her entire career penning fake news on Brexit, Trump, Russia etc has been shown to be based on a pack of porkies? Carole writes for the Guardian so that is all that matters.

Now the new principal sends out a missive which ends with a cheering call to arms:

“All of which brings me back to Hertford 2030. I am delighted that Governing Body decided last week that we should aim to be net carbon neutral as soon as possible, and by 2030 at the latest. This will involve tough choices. We’ll need commitment, help and advice from across the community, and climate has been a strong theme to my discussions with alumni. We are currently working with students to identify immediate changes, and carrying out a wider audit of the costs involved in the wider changes we must take. I hope that bold and urgent action, alongside the brilliant research of Jamie Lorimer, Louise Slater, Anette Mikes, Elizabeth Baldwin and so many others, will position us to be an active voice on the climate crisis, and to help develop hundreds of students equipped to help counter it. Do get in touch if you would like to know more.

More widely, we are looking to launch the wider Hertford 2030 strategy in May. Thank you for the excellent ideas so far. Alongside climate, we are looking at ways in which we can be a centre for excellent teaching by active researchers; a pioneer of equality, sustainability and opportunity; a thriving community that prepares young people for the challenges of the 21stcentury; and a home for debate, critical thinking, and curiosity.”

Ok principal, please explain to me the medieval warming period within the context of a discussion of man-made global warming and, on the matter of diversity, what percentage of your intake this year will be working class and from a deprived background? I only ask because across Oxford and Cambridge as a whole the number of white working class deprived students is 3%. I doubt that for the deprived working class as a whole it is much more. The number of working class (deprived or otherwise) students at Oxford is just 10%. In the reams of material on diversity which Oxford deluges me with, I see sod all about this particular grouping.

The underclass and working class (of whatever colour) is THE group suffering greatest lack of access to places like Oxford. As part of your drive for diversity, will you be striving to take in more folks like Charlotte Hogg whose miraculous achievements in breaking through the glass ceiling you celebrate or more dirty plebs? Over to you sir…

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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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