(Un)common People: Shouting at a Brick Wall

When I first thought of the idea to write a column on the issue of class and classism at the university, I was brimming with ideas for topics which I wanted to delve into. Yet I soon found myself plagued by an unshakeable feeling: no matter what I end up writing, it won’t make any real difference. So why bother? Oxford is an institution which has been in large part reserved for a small, elite minority of the population, and it can be difficult at times to square that with the decision I made as

#StopAsianHate was long overdue

My mother went on holiday to the seaside town of Whitby, North Yorkshire, in the summer, and instead of telling me about the lovely time she had had, she told me about an incident when a white family pointed and exclaimed this at her. For context, my mother is Japanese and works in retail. When coronavirus first came onto the radar, she became used to an increase in members of the public not wanting to sit next to her on the bus, crossing the road to avoid her or refusing to be served by her in

Your handy guide to killing Sims

Image description: A cartoon illustration of a person in a swimming pool with a thought bubble of a ladder The Sims has taken on something of a special role in people’s lives during the pandemic. As much of the world is shut down, we can but reminisce about a time when we had the freedom to do cool things such as get impregnated by aliens, eat 10 grilled cheeses in a row (tempting as it remains) and marry people we met 5 minutes ago. I, for one, reached a point last summer when I downloaded th

Revolution ‘Girl Style’ - for whom? Feminist punk’s problem with whiteness

The year is 1991. You pick up a copy of the Bikini Kill zine and find the Riot Grrl manifesto. Towards the top of the page there is the statement: BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our girlfriends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo. For those who have no idea what the above was about, allow me to give a crash course in feminist punk rock history: Riot Grrrl was a feminist punk scene

I was a teenage Smiths fan

Image description: many different Smiths albums scattered over each other So I meet you at the cemetry [sic] gates Keats and Yeats are on your side While Wilde is on mine A few months ago I was very unexpectedly (and very undeservingly) made captain of my college’s doomed University Challenge team. It was during our interview with the show’s producer when I mentioned what my dream round would be: “stills from old kitchen sink drama films from the 1960s and the cover art of the Smiths records

An Ode to Cowley Tesco

There were three stages of my reaction to the news that the Cowley Road Tesco would be closing until the autumn: denial, panic, and somewhat successful attempts to adjust. First came the denial. One quiet morning a newsletter came through my letterbox announcing the closure of said Tesco for 30 weeks. Now, for those of you who have never escaped the central Oxford bubble, and have thus far glided through life knowing of only the Magdalen Street Tesco and its temperamental escalators, then I pit

A towering figure of passion: an obituary to Shirley Williams

Image Description: Shirley Williams sat on a chair in a black dress with flowers, with a glass of water and mic in front of her. Regardless of one’s own political allegiances, we can all lament the hole in the tapestry of British politics which was left by the passing of Williams. A towering figure of passion and intellect of the centre-left, she leaves a unique legacy as a pioneer who attempted to create a fairer, egalitarian and modern Britain. Whilst reading PPE at Somerville College, she b

In Defence of Bridget Jones

The year marks a quarter of a century since the seminal novel Bridget Jones’s Diary was first published. As many a desperate woman of a certain age will know, the book begins with our titular character lamenting how she is entering her 32nd year of her life still single, of course. This means that I have a dozen years before I finally reach her grand heights, and fulfil my destiny of becoming a modern-day Jones. However, there are a couple of factors hindering this goal: I have never had two awk

The Office UK vs. US: Transatlantic Divide or the Same, Vanishing Workplace?

American sitcoms have always caused a rather Marmite reaction from me. The Simpsons? Yes. Family Guy? Nah. Frasier? Of course. Seinfeld? I’m still waiting for it to click for me. Friends? No. Arrested Development? Sure. Big Bang Theory? Obviously not. And so when I decided to finally take the plunge into watching the American version of The Office, after having binged through the original Slough-centric version countless times, I went into it with more than a little bit of trepidation. Having ac

Why Hartlepool matters

Whilst the ‘Red Wall’ of traditional Labour heartlands may be a media creation lacking historical provenance, if one must refer to the idea, Hartlepool would probably be a prime example. It certainly checks all the tick boxes created by the London-based media: de-industrialisation and economic decline from the 1980s, consistent return of Labour MPs, a 70% vote in favour of Brexit in 2016, and of course, its ‘up North’. This port town in the North East (and a solid Labour seat since the 1960s) is

Oxford University museums to receive £640k from Culture Recovery Funds –

Image description: an image of the inside of the Pitt Rivers Museum The University has received a grant of £639,999 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to support the reopening and recovery of the Ashmolean Museum, the History of Science Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum. All of the museums are currently closed, in line with government guidance in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. This is part of more than £300 million which has been awarded

Conversations with Alumni: Siân Berry, co-leader of the Green Party –

Image Description: a headshot of Siân Berry against the backdrop of a drawing of Oxford’s skyline and the text ‘Siân Berry: Alumni Series’ This week’s alumni is Siân Berry, a former Materials Science student at Trinity College who went on to become politically active within the Green Party. Since 2018 she has been co-leader of the party alongside Jonathan Bartley, and in addition she sits on the London Assembly and is the Green candidate in the upcoming London mayoral election. I discussed the

Student Spotlight: Oxford University Liberal Democrats

Image description: the text ‘Oxford University Liberal Democrats est 1913’ against a background photo of students socialising with an orange tinted overlay and the Student Spotlight logo As a mini series within the ongoing Student Spotlight series, we will be interviewing three student political societies: Oxford University Conservative Association, Oxford University Labour Club and Oxford University Liberal Democrats. Continuing where we left off with OUCA, we spoke to OULD. Founded in 1913 (

Student Spotlight: Oxford University Conservative Association

Image description: the text Oxford University Conservative Association against a dark blue background and the Student Spotlight logo As a mini series within the ongoing Student Spotlight series, we will be interviewing three student political societies: Oxford University Conservative Association, Oxford University Labour Club and Oxford University Liberal Democrats. To start off with, we spoke to OUCA. Founded in 1924, it has gone on to count the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ed

Conversations with Alumni: Amelia Fletcher CBE

Image Description: a headshot of Amelia Fletcher against the backdrop of a drawing of Oxford’s skyline and the text ‘Amelia Fletcher: Alumni Series’ This week’s alumni has had a double career of sorts. In one world, she is a respected economist: former chief economist at the Office of Fair Trading and now Deputy Director at the Centre for Competition Policy and professor of Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia. On the other hand, she is a cult indie rock figure with a music caree

I am a Crankstart scholar, and I am proud of it

I am a Crankstart scholar, and I am proud of it. For those who are unaware, the Crankstart scholarship is offered to Oxford students from lower household income backgrounds, and comes in the form of financial aid and career development help. Frankly, the support which the university provides for its scholars is pretty much unparalleled; study sessions and career events, exclusive internships, professional mentors, CV discussions, and for some, a reduction in tuition fees. I’m glad that the prog

An Ode to Greasy Spoons

Image description: A plate with toast, eggs, a sausage, tomatoes and bacon, surrounded by a mug of tea, napkins and salt and sugar shakers. Upon moving to my second-year student house in the Cowley area, I stumbled upon the institution that is Tick Tock Cafe. For readers who are unfortunate enough to dwell solely in the city centre during term time, the cafe is a ‘greasy spoon’ just off the Cowley Road roundabout. Your next question may well be: ‘well what on earth is a greasy spoon? That hard

Antidepressants: a user’s tale

I’ve been through periods of intense depression a couple of times in my life, beginning in my mid-teens when I would skip classes at high school and spend my time in the nurse’s spare room, crying to myself in the dark and plotting ways out. She used to use the metaphor of the mind being a glass which would sometimes become filled up with depression and anxiety and spill over, and, well, I felt like I might as well have been standing underneath a waterfall. At home I developed the trick of cryin

Student Spotlight: Turl Street Homeless Action

Image description: the letters TSHA against a white background with the words Turl Street Homeless Action by the side The Oxford Student spoke to Bethan Adams, the president of Turl Street Homeless Action, about the organisation’s work in helping the rough sleeper population around Oxford. What is Turl Street Homeless Action, and why is it important? Turl Street Homeless Action is a student-led, secular outreach organisation. We run evening shifts handing out snacks and hot drinks to people s

Don't knock Wagamama's anglicised katsu curry

When I was in sixth form, I auditioned to represent my college at a public speaking competition. As I awkwardly stepped in front of the audience of nonplussed students and teachers, I began my spiel: ‘I am the human equivalent of a Greggs Katsu Curry bake’. The audience continued to look nonplussed. What I had been attempting to do was to convey my feelings about being caught between two different identities: my Japanese heritage on the one hand and my Northern English upbringing on the other.
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