I made my first official Durham visit today and, since they’re a university of odd traditions and it’s currently the middle of Freshers’ week, my train journey was rewarded by seeing some random matriculation stuff.
Unlike my beloved St Andrews, where matriculation basically consisted of a couple of hours spent queueing around the Younger Hall, waving various bits of paper in various official-type peoples’ faces as proof that you had picked your classes and registered for the doctor and could, in fact, afford to pay your fees (whether with real money or the promise of the imminent arrival of a student loan). However, I have just been informed (by this interesting article) that apparently at some point in one of those queues I made this catchy little oath:
Nos ingenui adolescentes, nomina subscribentes, sancte pollicemur nos preceptoribus obsequium debitum exhibituros in omnibus rebus ad disciplinam et bonos mores pertinentibus, Senatus Academici autoritati obtemperaturos, et hujus Academiae Andreanae emolumentum et commodum, quantum in nobis sit, procuraturos, ad quemcunque vitae statum pervenerimus. Item agnoscimus si quis nostrum indecore turbulenterve se gesserit vel si parum diligentem in studiis suis se praebuerit neque admonitus se in melius correxerit eum licere Senatui Academico vel poena congruenti adficere vel etiam ex Universitate expellere.
(Go follow the link if you really want to know what it says)
Apparently, I actually made this oath in Latin. Which was news to me, I must say. Maybe this is the first sign of aging; maybe it was just one of the many pieces of paper I signed on that September day, seven long years ago; or maybe, just maybe – dare I say it? – wikipedia doesn’t have all their facts straight. Who can say?
Nevertheless, back in Durham, things are a good deal more fancy. [Presumably because of their inferiority complex brought about by the fact that we’re 420 years older than them. Only joshing. Sort of.]
First year students get all gowned up, and then head off to the cathedral where, according the sweet third year student who was explaining it all to me, ‘they sit for an hour while people tell them how great Durham is’. And this is all adorable and everything, but the randomness comes from the fact that as each college sends their first years off to get matriculated, the rest of the college hangs out outside dressed in (what I assume are) the college colours and bangs saucepans and cheers and, in one case that I saw, (bag)pipes them on their way in. Odd. But nice I think.
In summary: good tradition. Good intro to Durham joys.