Welcome to Univ’s Middle Common Room (MCR) also known as the Weir Common Room or WCR! All graduate students at University College are automatically a member of the WCR and members of the current 2021-22 WCR Committee have provided the information on this page to introduce you to who we are and what we do.
The WCR has a double meaning: it refers to the graduate body of students at University College and also to the physical space in the College where graduate students can relax and socialise. It is an engaging and diverse community of early-researchers consisting around 150 members across all year groups and subjects. Whether you are here for a one/two-year Masters programme or a DPhil programme we do hope you choose to get involved with college life!
The WCR has a committee of graduate students (you can find the details of the committee members below), whose role is to serve, advocate for and represent the interests of the graduate student body within the College and the University. The aforementioned services range from running fun social events, such as BOPs (informal parties) and quiz nights, to providing welfare support and promoting environmental awareness. The WCR committee changes every year, with elections held in Hilary Term.
No matter whether you are a current or prospective Univ graduate student, below you will find all the essential information related to the WCR. Get to know the committee members and the WCR building, or learn about our upcoming events and the welfare support available to students.
Meet the Committee Members 2021-22
Meet the WCR Committee for 2021-22. The WCR committee deals with the College and wider University community on behalf of graduates, runs events and functions, and strives to ensure the welfare of its members. In non-pandemic times the WCR organise social events including parties, theatre and orchestra trips, exchange dinners and quiz nights, which they have been doing virtually as much as possible!
President – Ethan Petrou (He/him)
(2018, DPhil Earth and Environmental Sciences)
Ethan is studying for a DPhil in Earth & Environmental Sciences. Originally from the southern countryside, he was an undergrad and Master’s student in University College London, before jumping ship to continue his studies at University College Oxford. Ethan spent two years working as a geotechnical engineer and has spent some time working offshore. When not in the lab, he enjoys singing in Univ chapel choir, reading and cooking with friends. As president of the WCR, he is responsible for overseeing the committee and ensuring that the WCR continues to be a vibrant, fun and welcoming community. If you have any questions, thoughts or ideas he would love to hear from you!
VP/Treasurer – Michael Hutchinson (He/him)
(2019, DPhil Statistics and Machine Learning)
Originating from East Anglia and having made a way stop at the “other place” on his way here, Michael is now a second-year DPhil student in Statistics and Machine Learning here at Univ. Having been a social sec last year he couldn’t quite get enough of committee life and is the VP for this year. Outside of academic life, he enjoys playing hockey, music and hanging out at whichever WCR event is currently happening
Secretary – Naroa Ibarra-Aizpurua (She/her)
(2020, Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics)
Naroa is a first year DPhil student in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, in the research area of Neuroscience. After completing the BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of the Basque Country, she moved to Oxford to study the MSc in Neuroscience. Her love for Oxford and the college formal dinners made her stay here for her DPhil (okay, the fact that her dream-lab is here had something to do too). If she ever gets some time off the lab, Naroa enjoys collecting mugs and drinking lots of tea, going for long walks, reading and yoga. With her position as secretary, Naroa hopes to put to good use some of her organising and email-sending skills.
Welfare Officer – Ruth Coughlan (She/her)
Hailing from Ireland and having completed the Bachelor of Civil Law last year, Ruth decided that one year at Univ was simply not enough and has returned to complete an MPhil in Private International Law this year. When not grappling with lengthy reading lists, she can be found running, cooking, or listening to a worrying number of podcasts.
Ruth will be a welfare officer alongside Claire this year. If you have any welfare-related questions or would just like a general chat (over Teams or in person) please feel free to get in touch with her!
Welfare Officer – Clare Burgess (She/her)
(2020, MSt in Early Modern History)
Clare is studying for an MSt in Early Modern History, with hopes to pursue a DPhil this autumn. She’s Northern at heart, and did her undergrad at the University of York. She loves cooking, theatre and learning languages, and will probably come out with utterly useless historic trivia at inopportune moments of conversation.
Clare is one of two welfare reps this year, along with Tom Gavin, and hopes to support members of the WCR in their time at Oxford — she’s always available for a chat (in person or virtually!) if you have any welfare-related concerns or queries!
Environmental Rep — Odysseus Archontikis (He/him)
(2019, DPhil Environmental Research)
After a 20-year journey facing wars, mythical creatures and the wrath of the gods, Odysseus has finally been unbound and ready to start his new Odyssey. On his early travels, Odysseus had a true affection for ocean life and the Earth’s climate. He completed a BSc (Hons) in Geology & Geoenvironment in Athens, Greece and then an MSc (Hons) in Palaeontology in France. Now, he is settled in Oxford and excited to be part of Univ College serving as Univ WCR Environment and Hall Officer. If there is anything you want to discuss about environmental awareness, feel free to drop him a line.
LGBTQ+ officer – Cameron Lang (He/him – They/them)
(2020, DPhil Oncology)
Cameron is a first year DPhil student in Oncology, and grew up in East London. Before moving to Oxford, he had completed a BSc in Biomedical Science at Durham and an MRes in Translational Cancer Medicine at King’s College London. Before COVID, he enjoyed rowing, cycling, anything outdoors… but after three lockdowns he now loses several hours a day to Tiktok and promises to donate £5 to a charity of your choosing every time you can beat him at Mario Kart. Cameron is also passionate about LGBTQ+ student welfare, visibility and accessibility — so please do come and have a chat with him if there is anything LGBTQ+ related you would like to talk about!
International Students officer – Ebenezer Azamati (He/him)
(2020, DPhil International Relations)
Azamati is a first year DPhil student in International Relations and is from Ghana. His research examines Realpolitik and illiberal Great Powers’ conceptions of established international doctrines and liberal concepts. Prior to his DPhil, he completed his MPhil in International Relations at Mansfield and Saint John’s Colleges respectively, serving on the MCR committee as the Equality Officer at Mansfield College. In his spare time, he likes reading and debating philosophy, politics and history.
Ethnic Minorities and Racial Equality Officer – Ping-Luen (Baron) Ho (He/him)
(2018, DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry)
Baron Ho is studying for a DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry, Swire Scholar. Originally from Taiwan, he was an undergraduate and Master’s student in Tsinghua University in Hsinchu and Beijing, respectively. At the end of his term as President of the Oxford University Taiwanese Student Society (OUTSS), Baron joined the WCR Committee as Ethnic Minorities and Racial Equity Officer.
Oxford provides an extraordinary platform for promoting citizen consciousness and critical thinking. Based on this ideology, Univ actively opposes and deplores racism and other discriminatory behaviour and language and has made a commitment to be proactive in working to ensure that our principles of equality, diversity, inclusion, and tolerance are reflected in practice. You may also share your experiences here.
Disability and Accessibility Officer – Rebecca Colquhoun (She/they)
(2020, DPhil Earth Sciences)
Rebecca Colquhoun is a first year DPhil student in Earth Sciences studying the physics of earthquakes. Rebecca did their undergrad in Earth Sciences at Worcester College until they saw the light (/followed the funding) and moved to Univ, where they are now the Students with Disabilities and Accessibility Officer for the WCR. They are passionate about improving equality and diversity in Oxford and in STEM, and as part of that sit on many committees in the wider university! They are always happy to chat about disability, EDI or general life, and you can contact them on
Women’s Officer – Kim Becker (She/her)
(2019, DPhil Statistics)
Kim Becker is a second year DPhil student in statistics. She previously completed her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in mathematics at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. As Women’s Officer, Kim is passionate about creating a welcoming and equitable environment for all WCR members. If you have any questions or just want a friendly chat, drop her a line!
Social – Xu Dong (He/him)
(2020, MPhil Economics)
Xu is studying MPhil Economics and is devoted to become a super-influential macroeconomist. Before coming to Oxford, he spent two years at the University of Birmingham studying a BSc. in Mathematical Economics and Statistics. He is crazy about tasty food, if you find something really amazing, please share it with him!
Social – Mohamed Baioumy (He/him)
(2019, DPhil Robotics and AI)
Mohamed is a DPhil student in Robotics and AI at UNIV and is a social sec for this year. His DPhil at the Oxford Robotics Institute is on making robots smarter and more resilient. Generally, he is interested in tackling challenges in developing countries (e.g. education).
Before switching his money to British pounds, he did his undergraduate degree at the TU Delft in the Netherlands. There, he absolutely refused to participate in rowing. Yet somehow in Oxford, he has come to be on the Univ rowing team! He also enjoys playing basketball, football and guitar. He wouldn’t consider himself a master chef, but he likes to believe that Gordon Ramsey would like his cooking!
Social Secretary — Philip Pearcy (He/him)
(2020, DPhil Chemistry)
Philip is a first-year DPhil student in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry. He completed an MChem (Hons) in Chemistry with Industrial Placement at the University of Warwick before moving to Oxford. In his free time, he enjoys collecting music, watching films, and going on walks. This year, he will be the Social Secretary and will oversee the organising of events within the College. If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to get in contact with him!
The Weir Common Room Building
The WCR, located behind the Old Library, has a comfortable lounge and a fully equipped kitchen and two gender-neutral bathrooms. The WCR makes up the large proportion of the Mitchell Building and the space is a regular meeting-point for the graduate community here at Univ. A whole suite of events are held in the WCR from drinks receptions, art socials, discussion groups and our graduate bops. When you first enter the building one is met with a small vestibule where all the pigeon holes, or “pidges”, are located. These brown, wooden shelves will host all mail correspondence sent to you during your stay in college accommodation.
Inside the large, spacious lounge several zones exist from multiple seating areas containing grey sofas with orange striped patterns to a large wooden dining table.
The lounge also hosts our table football and a table tennis table great for relaxing with other graduate students and are available for use to all members of the WCR.
Along with a variety of newspaper and magazine subscriptions, the WCR also hosts a large selection of books and DVDs that have been kindly donated to the common room by alumni and the previous Master. Music and TV facilities are present in the WCR and are a great accompaniment to any small-scale or large-scale event hosted in the common room.
The WCR also contains a fully equipped kitchen, available for use by any member of the graduate body. A coffee machine is also located in the kitchen, free of charge for our members to use.
Find out more about the Mitchell Building on our College Buildings page.
A welcome statement to Freshers by Ethan
I would like to personally welcome you to University College and the Weir Common Room (WCR), the graduate body of Univ. My name is Ethan Petrou and I am the current WCR President here at Univ. As an incoming Univ graduate, you have become a member of the WCR, which is one of Oxford’s most active and social graduate communities. Univ is a proudly international, open and diverse group and the WCR Committee and our returning members look forward to having you join us! You can get to know your current WCR committee representatives and their roles in this section of the website.
The current pandemic has certainly been a strange time for us as a student community but we are still thriving with online seminar series, walking-buddy schemes, virtual study sessions and other online events. We hope to start running in person events as soon as we get the green light from college once it is safe and feasible to do.
For the most up-to-date information on our activities, please join the University College WCR group on Facebook. More general information on the WCR, Univ and Oxford may also be found on this website under “Learn@Univ”. The website also has up-to-date college coronavirus information, a dedicated space for “New Student” information and a series of useful FAQs which I recommend using as a first port of call. On a more social front, please feel free to get connected with us on twitter (@UnivWCR) and instagram (@thegradlet and @univwcr) where we post regular posts of student profiles. More information about these accounts can be found within this section of the website.
Finally, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me or the excellent WCR welfare and social teams or any of the committee by email, details of all emails can be found above in the “Meet the Committee Members 2021-22” section. The entire WCR Committee and I are more than happy to help in any way we can.
I look forward to meeting you!
For further information see the New Students page.
Social Events and Societies
Within the WCR, we know how important being able to meet and socialise with other members of the graduate community is. As a result, the WCR is involved with the organising and running of a wide range of events to bring people together and allow them to share experiences. Some of the events that have been run in the past include theatre trips, parties, quiz nights and exchange dinners between the MCRs of different colleges.
Some of the favourite events of the community are the bops, where everyone can come together to sing and dance the night away in a fun and safe environment. These large events occur once or twice a term and have been based on a wide variety of themes such as Prohibition, the 1990’s and “Heroes and Legends”. In addition to these events, there are a number of graduate societies within the college, one of them being the Martlets’ Society where graduates are able to present their work to the college community, as well as the college sports teams, such as our football team that has been undefeated for two seasons, that graduates are welcome to take part in.
As a result of the pandemic over the past year, the WCR has had to shift some of its events online. This has included virtual Sunday Socials, inter-household competitions and a virtual Glühwein making session over Christmas. We have had a lot of fun with these events and have been a great opportunity to socialise even when they had to be at home. With the easing of restrictions, the social team will be hoping to produce a balance of both virtual and in-person events and allow members to meet each other in as many ways as possible.
In order to see what events are currently being hosted by the WCR social team, you may view our social term card on the WCR website. Sign-up forms for some of the events will also be distributed via our mailing lists and through our social media accounts. We look forward to seeing you at the events!
Hi! Welcome to Univ, and welcome to the WCR.
We hope that you’ll find it as friendly as we have, and to make sure that your time here is as enjoyable as possible, you can always come talk to us with any problem – no matter how small.
We’re your Welfare Officers for the year:
Clare (she/her) – I’m a History student, focusing on the Early Modern Period, and I’m currently making the transition from MSt to Dphil. I came to Oxford after an undergraduate degree at York, so I understand how daunting it can be to adjust to the Oxford system. I’m still very much a northerner, so I’m always ready for a cup of tea and a chat – you can usually find me in the library or wherever there’s pizza! As one of your welfare reps, I’m here for all your welfare needs: please do not hesitate to reach out if you’re having any difficulties, or if you think you have an idea to make Univ life more enjoyable for everyone.
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruth Coughlan (She/her) – Hailing from Ireland and having completed the Bachelor of Civil Law last year, Ruth decided that one year at Univ was simply not enough and has returned to complete an MPhil in Private International Law this year. When not grappling with lengthy reading lists, she can be found running, cooking, or listening to a worrying number of podcasts.
Ruth will be a welfare officer alongside Claire this year. If you have any welfare-related questions or would just like a general chat (over Teams or in person) please feel free to get in touch with her!
Univ is an accepting and inclusive environment, and we’re working hard to make sure of it. We have a range of activities and schemes so there’s something for everyone here. During the pandemic, we’ve been running a Walking Buddy Scheme, which has been a massive success, allowing people to meet others in a socially distanced and Covid-safe manner while also getting out and about. We’ve been running Zoom Study Cafés to help people get on with their studies in a supportive environment, and we’ve been working with the rest of the WCR to provide what events we can, despite the restrictions.
As things start to ease, we’re hoping that welfare events can resume, and we’re working towards this. We’re continuing the Walking Buddy Scheme, with the possibility of larger groups as the Covid regulations loosen, and we’re going to host a series of Welfare picnics, teas and events over the next term. We’ll be focusing on Mental Health Week in May, with events and information centred around your mental wellbeing. We’ve got big plans for the next year: a chocolate drive, women’s and LGBT+ circles to provide safe spaces for people to discuss issues relevant to them, “DisabiliTeas” to offer a forum for disabled students to meet and socialise, maybe even some stress relief puppies…
There are several other WCR Committee Members who are responsible for various aspects of welfare:
Rebecca (she/they) – I’m a first-year DPhil student in Earth Sciences. I’m interested in the physics of earthquakes. I did my undergrad in Earth Sciences at Worcester College during which I held a variety of positions within the student union’s Disabled Students Campaign. I’m now the Students with Disabilities and Accessibility Officer for the WCR. I’m passionate about improving equality and diversity in Oxford and in STEM, and as part of that sit on many committees in the wider university! I’m always happy to chat about disability, EDI or general life, and particularly feel free to get in touch if you’d like to talk about support available and how to access it (the system can be super confusing but I’m here to help!)
Contact me: email@example.com
Cam (he/they) – I’m a first year DPhil student in Oncology – trying to better understand how T-cells kill cancer! I did my undergrad at Durham, where I first came out and really started engaging with the LGBTQ+ community. From my own experience I know how daunting it can be to attend your first few LGBTQ+ events, especially if you’re still questioning or not quite sure about how you identify. I’ll be working hard at making all LGBTQ+ events at Univ as inclusive as possible by making these events open to; anyone that identifies within the umbrella term, is currently questioning their sexual or gender identity, and to allies that would like to attend to support an LGBTQ+ friend.
As also mentioned by the Welfare reps, we also hope to run LGBTQ+ circles, designed to provide students with an opportunity to be heard and supported by fellow queer students!
If there are any LGBTQ+ related issues that arise or changes you would like to see around college, big or small, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’m always happy to listen, advocate or support you in any way that I can!
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim (she/her) – I am a second year DPhil student in Statistics. I’m an Australian/American, and completed my undergraduate degree and masters degree in mathematics from the University of Adelaide, Australia. I’m passionate about gender issues and want to make the WCR a safe and welcoming place for everyone. I love talking and listening – so please do drop me a line if you’d like a cup of tea at any point (really… please do… it’ll give me a break from research…)! As women’s officer, I am the person who you can contact if you need financial help with emergency contraception, and supply all our sanitary goodies in the MCR (let me know if you’d like your own moon cup)! You’ll be hearing from me throughout the academic year with various resources should you need them – here I’ll just mention a few:
Pregnancy & abortion support bpas.org/clinics/bpas-oxford
Revenge porn helpline revengepornhelpline.org.uk
Oxford friend – local LGBTQ+ counselling service facebook.com/lgbtqhelpine
Rape crisis UK rapecrisis.org.uk
Like most colleges, there are a range of places you can find help if you need it:
• As your welfare reps, we are always here for you, and if you don’t know where to go, we can help signpost you to the right place.
• We have a wonderful group of Junior Deans who are on hand to help you too.
• The college has a group of trained Peer Supporters, who are here to listen and support you in times of need.
• College’s Harassment Advisors are trained to handle incidents of harassment in a non-judgemental and supportive way.
• Our Welfare Fellow, Andrew Gregory, is readily available to all members of college.
More detailed information on the above and about the College’s welfare provisions can be found on the Welfare Support page.
If you have any welfare queries or concerns, you can always reach us individually by email, stop us around college if you see us, or you can reach out to the Welfare Email address email@example.com
WCR Social Media
Our Facebook group provides a one-stop shop for all current affairs occurring at Univ. Any member can post a question, query, event or statement here! Please join the group for regular day-to-day details pertaining to the graduate body. Note: This is a private group reserved for current members of the Univ WCR.
Our Twitter provides a platform for the WCR to tweet out the thoughts of our common room. We love retweeting our members’ posts and promoting statements posted by Univ college and the wider Oxford community!
The Gradlet is a space to showcase the members of the graduate body on instagram. We post regular content in a Q&A style. Follow to learn more about the current graduate community at Univ and do reach out if you’d like to be featured if you are a current Univ WCR member.
The univwcr instagram account is the social page for our common room. We promote the events that are currently occurring in the WCR. Get to know the events occurring at Univ and do send us a message if you’d like to be featured or would like to organise a social event together.
Our WCR website is a great first-point of searching for a broad-brush of information. Our social calendars can be found here. The website is currently under the process of being renovated!
News from the WCR
Univ is a very active community, both among its current students and its alumni, and publishes a wide variety of news and features online. These cover many aspects of College community life and are a great way to keep up to date with what is happening in Univ and also to gain an insight into what Univ alumni are up to.
All these can be found on Univ’s News and Features page; they can be filtered by year of publication and news “type” including College News, which covers undergraduate, graduate, staff and academic news.
A selection of news items about the WCR can be seen in the gallery below.
If you have any news to share or an idea for a feature, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.