I hope everyone has had a good break and is ready to get back into the swing of full term.
We have had a few days of wintry temperatures and early morning frosts, but the weather is still unseasonably warm, with spring bulbs beginning to emerge.
It is beginning to feel as if Oxford might be returning to a more normal pattern of being, and so it is time to revive my occasional blog, which has been absent whilst we have been concentrating on life in the time of COVID-19.
I want to start by thanking everyone for your help and support in keeping the College community safe and functioning in these difficult times. Due to your efforts, we have had relatively few COVID-19 cases in College, and no major outbreak. Those College members who have had a positive PCR test have all responded quickly and followed all the guidance in place at the time. I know this has been hard, and very far from the Oxford experience that many of you were hoping for – but you have allowed us to offer many more opportunities to meet in person than would otherwise have been the case.
The staff team has also been magnificent throughout, and I know that you will want to join me in thanking them for their commitment and good humour.
I would be very grateful if everyone could be patient a little longer and keep taking LFD tests before going to events such as dinners so that we can keep as many things going as possible.
Celebrations and College events
There will be twelve Degree Day events during the course of 2022 and we are looking at changing the format to allow more guests to attend. We will signpost dates in advance and encourage College members to use the Lange room whilst the Saugman Common Room hosts graduands and their families. More on this before the first ceremony in March.
We are also planning for a series of events with Fellows and other senior members of College, discussing their recent publications with current students or Early Career Researchers. Do let us know if you would like to suggest a topic and/or take part as a discussant.
The careers programme will be running again this term, and there is a wide range of alumni mentors available to support students – details are on the website here: https://www.stx.ox.ac.uk/careers .
And, of course, we will continue to offer a wide range of other events throughout the term, from the light-hearted to the study-related, for current members and for alumni.
If there is something you would particularly like to see College offer, please do let us know, either directly or via the Student Representative Committee.
This term we will continue to provide lunches on weekdays, with booked time slots, and run Halls and Special Dinners. We have also introduced Servery Suppers as a less formal, less expensive meal on Wednesdays. Don’t forget that we run waiting lists for these events and the lists can move quite quickly – so if you weren’t on-line at 8:30 on 10 January, don’t despair, but add your name to the list. We have asked you to book for no more than two of each kind of evening meal this term and are going back to those who have overlooked this request. We also know how much people enjoy bringing guests to events, but have limited the number to 3 per event, to offer as many people as possible the chance to attend. College meals are an important part of Oxford life and an opportunity to meet other students and their guests, as well as senior members and their guests. College officers will continue to preside at formal meals and invite distinguished individuals to meet the St Cross community over dinner and add to the opportunities for dialogue.
All first year students will have received an invitation to a Master’s buffet supper in the next few weeks, which will offer another opportunity to meet students and Fellows working in the same Division.
The College café will also re-open at 8:30 on Monday, 17 January, offering a good value option for coffee lovers (other drinks are available!), and another place to sit and work for anyone who wants a change from the Library or their room. You are welcome to bring guests to the café to enjoy what is on offer.
Support for students
We have a new College Counsellor in place from this term. Elizabeth Treasure, who will be offering 1:1 sessions for students, via email@example.com. We also recently signed up to a service from Health Assured which provides access to a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year Student Assistance Programme: see full leaflet for more details, and secure login details are available here (SSO needed).
West Wing building work
We have submitted a request for planning permission for works to put right some problems with the West Wing building. We expect to hear the outcome in March this year, with a view to starting the main work at the end of the summer. Residents are being kept in touch and our near neighbours are also being briefed.
There is a lot to look forward to! I know that many of you will be getting back into exercise, whether you run, row, play a team sport or have your own personal work-out regime – my Monday morning yoga class has resumed: 7:30 is a good way to start the day! Port Meadow and the University Parks are increasingly full of people enjoying the fresh air – snatches of overheard conversation are often deeply academic, as Rosie (dog) and I explore. Spring flowers are beginning to come through and the light is often amazing.
I hope you all enjoy the term.