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2001-2004 Gaudy

Univ 2001-2004 Gaudy 2024We are grateful to Dr Sophia Dawkins (2004, PPE) for the following report:

I had forgotten how magnificent Univ looks in the rain. The warm stone transmitted pure affection as we crossed the quads to the Master’s lodgings. What a delight we felt in the dining room, as we discovered birds flying out from lush green fabrics surrounding the petits fours.

I have loved Univ for its cosy, unpretentious spirit since the first moment my bespectacled teenage self-alighted from a bashed-up VW Polo on Logic Lane, carrying a CD player and the Arcade Fire back catalogue. True to that ethos, small talk transformed fast to jokes, hugs and forgiveness for failures to answer phone calls. And the best of those jokes were told by Univ-spawned kids, jabbing their interlocutors in the knees. It’s a marvel how humour, intelligence and spunk have transmitted down the gene pool.

We were on our best behavior at dinner – at the outset, at least. A few of us whispered surreptitiously: Do you think we can take a picture? We felt collective relief when the Master rose, presented her iPhone and snapped away. This was an alien experience. We are the generation whose Nokias interrupted Formal Hall with Ride of the Valkyries ringtones. We were also the first to flirt over a social media platform, then the preserve of a few Ivy League universities, Oxford and Cambridge. At that moment in the Gaudy dinner, we felt youthful nostalgia clash with the hard facts of aging.

Some disappointments: Nobody wore a toga to the bar. By and large, the gin and tonics were sparkling waters. Most of us staggered to bed at 10.30pm, a wild night out at this stage in life. My comrades had shockingly few wrinkles. How dare people look so good. They better show some wear and tear when we reunite in our fifties.

Candlelit evensong in Univ ChapelAlongside the disappointments were thrilling surprises. Univ’s communal spirit has palpably swelled over the decades. It was invigorating to observe how the College has embedded itself in Oxford’s refugee and neighbourhood communities. Univ felt refreshingly modern and comfortingly “Alfred the Great”, all at the same time.

We express our collective gratitude to the Master, Baroness Amos, to Julie Boyle and to the fantastic teams across College who gave us such a blast. Univ makes us, the pre-iPhone generation, glow with pride.

Published: 25 April 2024

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