Principal's Blog: Early February

blogBowerscrop1Holocaust Memorial Day:
On 29 January our alumnus Rabbi Roni Tabick, Rabbi of New Stoke Newington Synagogue gave the Sermon in Chapel to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. Few who were at the Service will forget his beautiful rendition of the Hebrew Lamentation for the dead Ail Moli Rachamim in both Hebrew and English. With the lessons from the Holocaust all too obvious, Roni spoke about the difficult use of language to stigmatise “the other” in society in a way that dehumanises. The choir sang a Yiddish song Unter dayne vayse Shtern which was written in the Vilna Ghetto by the poet Avraham Sutzkever. This was I suspect the first time that a Yiddish song was heard in a chapel service in our beautiful chapel.

French honour:
I am delighted that despite Brexit relations with France have been cemented by the elevation of Prof William James to that of an Officer in the Order of Academic Palms. He tells me that his letter informs him that « Le Premier ministre, par décret en date du 9 janvier 2018 a promu Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques Monsieur William James, Oxford, pour service rendus à la culture française. »  We offer congratulations from the College.

We invite our Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) students for dinner which happened this year on 23 January. What was significant about that group was the extraordinary international reach with attendees from Papua New Guinea, Lebanon, Portugal and Austria. We discussed a range of global issues throughout dinner.

Hilary Term brings a series of very enjoyable dinners reflecting several different aspects of College life. On 25 January I spoke of the centrality of scholarship in our community and essayed a (probably incomplete) notion of the ideal Brasenose student as having these characteristics

Broad minded/well rounded/free spirited

Serious but fun to be with; working hard playing hard

Committed to scholarship

One eye on then future but living in the present; going to make a difference

Committed to Brasenose.

Readers are invited to add to this list.

On 31 January there was the Arts and Societies Dinner where the speech was given by John Robins who last year won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is currently on a nationwide tour. He gave a funny and inspiring address. The dinner reflects the extraordinary array of artistic talent at Brasenose and the great range of Societies.

Principalian Fact Check:
It has been widely reported that for the first time in the near millennium of Oxford University’s existence, new female undergraduate students this year outnumbered their male peers. It is certainly true that qualified candidates who previously were not applying are now doing so in growing numbers and gaining places and that this is a cause for celebration. Overall, however, slightly more men (1,648) than women (1,622) matriculated. Among new UK students, there was a slim female majority (3) and a larger majority (45) for UK students admitted aged 18. At Brasenose, 56 women and 50 men matriculated this year, including 47 UK women and 39 UK men.  

I went to hear a talk by Paul Reville of Harvard at Lady Margaret Hall about access and outreach indicatives on 18 January.

I also attended a speech by Lady Hale at the Oxford Islamic Centre in Marston Road which is a very fine building. She spoke about Religious Dress and the many recent cases dealing with this.

Finally I commend a Guardian Comment piece about how individuals can tackle human rights abuses around the globe by Alexander Betts, director of the Refugee Studies Centre and a Golding Fellow here.

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