This week, Oxford University announced plans to impose a £150 fine on students who partake in “trashing” as a form of post-exam celebration. The Oxford Student Union has now issued a statement condemning this punishment.
Trashing is the age-old Oxford custom of covering peers in materials such as confetti and shaving foam when they complete their examinations. It has been a traditional form of celebration for years, although the University is now trying to prevent it from continuing.
According to the University’s website, bans will be strictly enforced this year, warning students: “If you throw, pour or spray substances after your exams, you are liable to a £150 fine,” adding that trashing is against the Oxford Code of Discipline.
The SU, meanwhile, says it is “disappointed that the University is going ahead with its decision to fine students for post-exam celebration”. Campaign members argue that fines will have a varying impact on students depending on personal financial situations, which makes the punishment divisive and unequal.
Furthermore, the SU recognises “the importance of post-exam celebrations for students and the role it plays in getting them through a stressful exam period, especially in light of the pandemic.”
Many students feel they have been unable to benefit from the full university experience during COVID-19, with the SU saying “we understand the distress and upset (the University’s announcement) will be causing”.
According to the University’s website, the cost of clean-up after trashing is around £45,000 each year. Authorities say harm to the environment is also a concern, even when trashing is done with biodegradable materials.
However, the SU continues to promote “Green Trashing” as a compromise, using sustainably-sourced materials that are easy to clean. The SU also condemns the University for failing to consult students on the importance of post-exam celebration.