An Open Letter to St Catherine’s College

On a cold winter’s morning the wind rushed and whirled around the quiet streets of Oxford town. Leaves and debris alike fluttered past steamed up, cosy windows. One lonesome little letter, however, didn’t find its rightful home. Making barely a clatter, the wind plastered the literary matter on to a solitary streetlamp.

Dashing to and fro, with barely a minute to spare, a young Oxonian (with tousled and greasy hair) stumbled upon this pamphlet of wisdom. Feeling much like he’d just found oak leaf left by the Cumaean sibyl herself, he carefully flatted this crumpled sheet of paper, laying bare its hallowed ciphers.

With great awe, he began to read the letter which began as thus:

‘Dear Saint Catherine,

I am writing you this letter personally to let you know how quite frankly, I find not only the handling, but also the sheer existence of concrete matter to be pathetic and borderline insulting!

I, a talented, brilliant, yet also notably worldly and wise second year undergraduate student, find it lamentable that you, a vital organ of this godlike creature known as The University of Oxford, would let something as measly as dodgy concrete affect the welfare of your students. As it does not affect me one bit, I do not care that the roof of a primary school collapsed. We are not a primary school! As someone who was personally anointed by the Lord himself to grace his green earth with my sheer existence, I know full well that something like that couldn’t possibly happen to me or my fellow brethren in brilliancy.

Alas, as the commoners say, there is no point crying over spilt milk, or split concrete for that matter. However, there is still ample room for me to not only whinge, but also whine about the college’s egregious fumblings!

As the college already knew about the issue in May, they should have told me, the MOST important undergraduates of all undergraduates to exist EVER about the goings on in the college (I don’t mind them not having told the other students, they aren’t as important as me). Now, as it stands, we have two days until terms starts. Not only have I been promised an en-suite, but also as many rooms as my father has in his second house in which I was told I may house my various medieval manuscripts as well as my personalised harpsichord.

Yet, in the same way in which the nanny was relentless in taking away my Nintendo when I had to make my daily visits to mother, the college was equally relentless in taking new quad away from me. Although they have offered me a perfectly reasonable alternative, including the possibility of financial compensation, I remain dissatisfied! How dare the college appeal to the kindness and solidarity of the student body! We do not care if you are losing massive amounts of money as a result of an unexpected emergency situation, just make some more! Quite frankly, I find it repugnant that you expect me to share my toilet like a dirty commoner! Private toilets are the bare necessity, not a luxury.

Not to mention the fact that I am expected to eat three cooked meals, which staff are still cooking despite the comprised cooking facilities, resulting in extra effort, in a spacious and heated marquee. How dare they only offer me three choices when it used to be four! Moreover, the extra effort the voluntary JCR committee is putting in to make the JCR marquee a warm and welcoming space is lacking, for simply put, I expected them to rebuild the whole space just in time for my return!

To end this letter, I would like to address the master of the college directly. I find it truly insulting that she has not yet offered to give me her own bed, let alone even offered to share it. When the college mentioned sharing rooms, I assumed they would give me the master’s lodgings. It is audacious that the college broke yet another promise! As my student experience will be severely impacted by the one term I will spend in the accommodation I lived in the whole of last year, I expect to at least receive a wing of the library to honour my name as compensation.

Yours sincerely,

An anonymous critic.’

As the innocent Oxonian looked up, he noticed that his eyes had filled with tears. Not yet before had he read such a moving account of suffering and plight. He couldn’t help but cry ‘Why, why must my fellow brilliant brethren feel pain to this extreme degree?’. Never mind war, famine or sickness, the fear of homelessness that this poor university student felt touched the young fellow at the very core of his being. ‘Yes’, he muttered. ‘University accommodation is a right, not a privilege’.