Trashings - A Fresher's Perspective

I’d never heard of trashings before I got to Oxford. It didn’t take long however to work out why so many of those I’d just met in freshers week had profile pictures decked out in gowns and ties, covered in shaving foam and paint, with crowns on their heads and flowers round their necks.

The 1st year lawyers, 1st and 2nd year psychologists, and 2nd year medics, biologists, classicists this year sat exams just either side of the Easter vacation. Exams for everyone (at least definitely for me!) took a heap of suffering and a few late nights but the thought of a trashing certainly pushed me through the early hours.

Trashings take place for each subject after their last exam. Before leaving exam schools, those in the know put their mortar board and jacket in a bag before leaving before the onslaught. Already thrilled having finished exams, you are greeted outside by your friends with an array of items with which they proceed to trash you, hurling whipped cream, shaving foam and paint while spraying you with prosecco or other drinks to celebrate your efforts.

After leaving exam schools, drenched but elated, tradition calls you to the Radcliffe Camera, one of the most beautiful libraries in Oxford, where photos are taken outside, giving your friends time to prepare a second trashing back in college. Returning to college, you are met by a huge gathering of students in 2nd quad, all with buckets of water. This sounds like an ordeal, but to be honest, after facing the water buckets, I imagine most of those trashed ended up far cleaner than before. Finally, trashings are topped off the firing of a cork out a bottle aimed at the clock at the top of the quad. Rumour has it, if you hit the clock you will get a 1st in exams.

With trashings over, it was time to reflect on a challenging term. Personally, if I learnt anything for life from Hillary 2019 and from trashings, it’d be that green “biodegradable” paint is a fraud and doesn’t wash out of white clothes. I may no longer be trashed, but I can also confirm that both my shirt and tie still are.

Hector Thornton-Swan, Law, 1st Year