Teddy Hall students are unimpressed after being told that they will require permission from their tutors in order to attend this year’s Varsity Ski Trip.
The Teddy Hall Senior Tutor recently e-mailed all undergraduates to announce that: “nobody from St Edmund Hall can go on [the Varsity] trip without the permission of both their subject tutors and the Senior Tutor”.
It was also clarified that it will be “extremely unlikely” for students to obtain permission to leave on the ‘First Lift’ which takes place on Thursday 1st December as that would likely involve missing academic commitments on Thursday and Friday of 8th Week. Arriving later therefore equates to missing a small part of the trip.
The main part of the trip is scheduled to begin on Saturday 3rd December- technically the last day of Michelmas Term. Consequently, the email stipulated that students will be expected to remain in Oxford until “Friday 2 December up to 7 pm in order that their academic commitments (lectures, practicals, tutorials and meetings with the Principal) are met”.
If students book the trip without permission and subsequently fail to obtain permission, they are likely to lose their deposits. However, with only 3000 spaces between Oxford and Cambridge places often sell out quickly: as the Varsity website states, “last year we sold out within 28 hours”.
While waiting on permission may mean that some people will miss out on the trip, one Teddy Hall student remained unfazed: “I signed up for it on Monday. Judging from the statuses on Facebook, several people have signed up for it as well and I think a situation is going to arise where we all just leave without this permission. We are not five year olds seeking permission to go on a holiday – the College should realise that we’re adults now and they shouldn’t clamp down with such harsh rules.”
Another student said “to be honest, this rule comes across as pretty bizarre to me. If our academic performance were really the issue, they should really ban skiing over the entire Christmas break because quite simply, I could not go for Varsity, ski the whole of the Christmas break instead and come back with absolutely no work done”.
Joshua Coulson, Teddy Hall’s JCR President said “the College has given students plenty of warning and the general consensus seems to be that if there is any cause for concern then there is enough time to talk to tutors early on in term and change end of term tutorial commitments thus allowing students to go on the trip. I haven’t yet heard of anyone who has not been able to do what they want.”
He went on to state “the College has dealt with this whole situation well as they have given students a good amount of warning, pre-empting any potential problems further down the line.”
Teddy Hall’s Varsity Rep commented that “the most common departure time should be after most work commitments have finished so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue… the policy of asking the tutors is simply to ensure that there aren’t any problems or clashes further down the line.”
One Teddy Hall finalist said that the only reason he could not make ‘First Lift’ was “’cause of a friend’s 21st” and a tutor at the College said requiring permission is a “pretty standard approach” in many Colleges.
However, Teddy Hall is not the only college to require permission to attend the trip. The Senior Tutor of St John’s College has also issued a statement: “non-competitors may depart College after 6pm Friday 8th week (but not before), and competitors may, if they have tutors’ support, ask for a letter to apply to the Proctors to leave earlier.”
The disparity in departure dates and earlier start date is predominantly to do with price due to a high demand for accommodation on Saturday 10th December onwards, requiring the organisers to stagger arrivals, thereby ensuring that participants be at the site by 3rd December at the latest.
Ticket sales opened on Monday of 1st Week at 8am, with students having to wait in a long queue to purchase as the system was overloaded with requests for the popular trip.