With an email warning students to ‘be vigilant’ after black ex-student Femi Nylander walked through Harris Manchester College, Oxford have taken the lead in the annual institutional prejudice contest against Cambridge.
Oxford’s head coach Marcus Atherton said: “I’m really glad to see our tactics are paying off. If we can keep up this pace of old-fashioned discrimination, I think we are in good stead to win it this year.”
2017 will no doubt be a close competition between the two sides, with Cambridge looking to continue their winning streak after last year.
Cambridge captain Cameron Bridgeworth said: “2016 was a great contest. Oxford started out strong with their Cecil Rhodes statue controversy, which kind of outshone our own Benin bronze cockerel at Jesus. But as the match wore on we came back with force, with the Queens’ African dinner being the turning point which won it for us at the end of the day.”
“Obviously this Nylander email was an impressive play and we need to respond well to be in with a chance this year. Awarding more 1sts to men than women has been a good start but I don’t think it’s enough. We’re definitely going to have to come in strong with some offensive May Ball themes if we want to turn the match around. I think Trinity proposing ‘1930s Germany’ might give us back the lead.”
Oxford and Cambridge have been embroiled in a bitter rivalry since the first institutional prejudice match over two hundred years ago. In an interview earlier this week, commentator Tara Lamp discussed how the competition has changed over the years.
“Critics say that the golden age of institutional prejudice ended when women were allowed into the universities in the late 19th Century, but there are still moments of magic to be seen between these two sides.
“My favourite match in recent memory has got to be the 2015 clash. In a masterful display of insensitivity, the Oxford Union advertised a cocktail called ‘The Colonial Comeback’ with a photo of chained hands. After a period of calm, Cambridge responded with explosive shortsightedness by casting David Starkey as the lead in a fundraising video. In the end it wasn’t quite enough to regain the lead but it made for nail-biting stuff.”
We’ll be bringing you updates throughout the year as these two sides continue their head-to-head.