Subfusc freedom

I am sure the world will be delighted to know that, from 4 August 2012, gentlemen students at Oxford can sit their examinations in a skirt and blouse while ladies will be permitted to wear shirt, trousers and tie as an earnest attempt to avoid “gender discrimination”.

Encaenia 2009

If this all seems a little bizarre, I may need to recap on one of the eccentricities of Oxford life.  Oxford University rightly values tradition. Encaenia which is the annual ceremony of conferring honorary degrees gives a splendid display of colourful outfits of all different shapes, sizes and colours. Graduation ceremonies have their own ritual and style and even examinations have their own dress code, administered by the Students’ Union and policed by the University Proctors. This is known as subfusc.

Oxford students in subfusc

The subfusc rules specified that gentlemen students should wear a dark suit and socks, with black shoes, a white shirt and collar with a white bow tie.  Ladies were to wear a white blouse with a black tie; a black skirt or trousers over black stockings or tights with black shoes and a dark coat (if desired).  Proctors, responsible for university discipline stood ready to administer fines to any not complying.

The University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Society (LGBTQ) put up a motion to the student union for a change in the subfusc rules that removed gender specificity and this was passed and comes into effect from 4 August 2012.

I am sure we will all breathe a great sigh of relief…….

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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