Today was matriculation day for Oxford and all over town scholars showed their true colors. Students at each college participate in official matriculation ceremonies held downtown at the Examination Schools, and attendance is obligatory. So is the dress code. As I promised, here is Alex subfusc:
We made a little error here. Because the good ol’ mortar board is a required element of dress for everyone, he naturally put it on his head. He mentioned that people were staring at him a bit strangely on the bus on the way down to college, but he wasn’t sure why. Later, he discovered the reason. No one is allowed to wear the mortar board until after graduating. You can even be fined for such a thing in Oxford! Apparently the cap is only an accessory that one carries, like the prayer book in old-fashioned weddings. As Alex says, The Things They Don’t Tell You.
The first thing was an official photograph of all matriculating Kebleians on the college quad at 10:40 a.m. sharp. Things came off rather punctually, either because this is England or because this is probably the only time the students will ever be allowed on the grass. Alex told me the best part was when the crowd of incoming undergraduate and graduate students were instructed to queue up according to height. I remember doing this activity with second graders. They were surprisingly good at it. I hear it proved a bit of a challenge for these Oxford scholars.
At 1:15 Alex had to return to the Keble College chapel. Due, no doubt, to the top-secret nature of the ancient ceremonies, matriculation is not open to the public so I was not invited. Norah and I took the bus home for naps.
In the chapel the Warden gave a short speech about the history of Keble and the Dean of Degrees read a roll call of names. Then the students queued up to walk in a processional across town, down High Street to the Examination Schools for the ceremony. Alex told me that the ceremony consisted of the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University speaking three or four lines of Latin and then giving a short speech about Oxford’s history and the process of matriculation. He then declared the scholars to be members of the University.
And so it begins.