Student Spotlight: Oxford University Conservative Association

Image description: the text Oxford University Conservative Association against a dark blue background and the Student Spotlight logo

As a mini series within the ongoing Student Spotlight series, we will be interviewing three student political societies: Oxford University Conservative Association, Oxford University Labour Club and Oxford University Liberal Democrats.

To start off with, we spoke to OUCA. Founded in 1924, it has gone on to count the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Edward Heath and William Hague amongst its ranks. Indeed, for more than 6 decades (and counting), a former President has been in the cabinet of every single Conservative government. Its current President, Adam James, supplied us with the following answers.

Student politics sometimes gets a bad rep, but is this entirely fair?

Student politics is a fun way to engage with wider debates at University, and believe it or not, it is possible to enjoy it without becoming a hack. We run elections every term, and sometimes things can get a little bit competitive, but there is no pressure to join in if that’s not your vibe. We also have a load of great events, including really interesting speakers: this term we’ve had Suella Bravermann, the Attorney General, and others like Robert Halfon and Isabel Oakeshott. So although we do make ourselves ridiculous every seventh week, the rest of the time we are just having a laugh – same as any other society.

What are your meetings are like? How would a normal week during term look for a
student involved?
We have weekly organisational meetings that we call ‘Council’, but ordinary members don’t need to attend these – unless they want to of course! Pre-pandemic, a week of OUCA starts at 8.30 pm on Sunday at St Giles, and then would typically include some other social and speaker events, including as many crewdates as it is possible to fit in a single term. Most of our members frequent other political societies’ debate nights, so the calendar can fill up quickly!

How has your club responded to the pandemic? What sort of events have you been holding in the past few terms?
We are very proud of our response to the pandemic – we moved a lot of our events online, and this has gone very well! Our speaker events have been well attended, and our social nights, including poker nights, OUCA talks and film nights on Netflix Watchparty have helped us feel a little bit more normal. During Michaelmas term, we held some in-person events, including a Treasure Hunt and a Non-Virtual Virtual Pub Quiz. We are hoping that Trinity and beyond will begin to look more normal, and we can’t wait to be able to hold in-person events again.

How are you getting ready for the upcoming local elections in Oxford?
Our Political Officer has been arranging twice-weekly campaigning throughout this term, both locally and in London with the Shaun Bailey Mayoral campaign. We are standing several candidates in Oxford this year with the Oxfordshire Conservatives, which is very exciting for those involved! We welcome the return of campaigning and leafleting, and will most likely be running in-person sessions for those interested next term.

What is coming up next? Any future events planned?
The inaugural OUCA Goes Speed Dating has unfortunately been delayed until further notice, and may now simply be replaced with an OUCA-OULD crewdate. We also eagerly await the return of Port and Policy, our flagship event, as well as all the other socials that we run on a termly basis. Our speakers for next term are yet to be announced, but it’s a very strong termcard.

What is the best way that students can get involved?
The best way to get involved is to come to one of our events! Anyone can join an event, and at the moment all of our events are free of charge (some events will require a small donation to charity). To find out what our next event is, check out our Facebook, or sign up to the Association on the website.

Image credit: Oxford University Conservative Association website