In praise of subfusc.

Photo: kamshots

Tourists love it, and if I recall correctly then polls from a few years ago showed majority support amongst students for it as well. But there’s still the feeling that it’s a tradition that doesn’t help Oxford’s elitist image one bit and should probably be finally scrapped.

Perhaps it’s the (minor) conservative in me that sees the value in continuity and the worth inherent to most long-standing institutions, but I would oppose any change. There’s something about getting suited up and seeing everyone dressed similarly that just feels right. It’s not simply that it helps you to get in the mood for exams, nor that it’s cool to be able to spot from the colour of a student’s carnation whether they’re at the beginning, middle or end of their papers.

Walking through the city every morning this past week, somehow the subfusc fits with the beauty of your surroundings. You grow to take it for granted just how beautiful Broad Street is, even if you never lose entirely the occasional moments of appreciation for just how privileged you are to call all these gorgeous buildings home. But when dressed up for the occasion, that all comes into a sharp, unavoidable focus. The streets come to life. And if I was wearing my jeans and T-shirt then that would not, I’m almost certain, be the case.

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