Wikimedia Commons/Michael D Beckwith

Students vote to keep traditional grace before meals

Wed 13 Nov 2019
By Ruth Sax

Attempts to stop saying grace before meals at an Oxford College have been quashed as students were angered when the head of Worcester College endeavoured to abolish the tradition.

Prof Kate Tunstall, the interim provost of Worcester College, came under fire from students over a series of decisions about the customs practised at formal hall.

This provoked an angry response from Worcester College's junior common room (JCR), who held a referendum on the issue. The overwhelming majority of students were in favour of preserving the practise.



As well as the grace before meals traditions, Prof Tunstall also wanted to put an end to students standing up when a teacher walked into the hall.

Damon Falck, the JCR vice president, said that students are "passionate about keeping the theatre that reminds them of this place's history and that it's a special place to be".

He told The Daily Telegraph it is "significantly more awkward to sit in silence while the tutors arrive or leave than it is to stand" and added that standing is "an excellent way to signal the start of the meal, and for everyone to be silent for grace".

Mr Falck, a second year mathematics and computer science student, said: "There was also a feeling that the governing body didn't realise just how much the students cared about this". He added that the move would have "no real impact on access".

The alternative proposed to the Anglican Grace, which is read before meals in Latin, was going to be a range of texts of thanksgiving from any world culture, religious or not.

Plans to alter both the standing and grace traditions were aimed at boosting the "inclusivity" of the College, and ensuring students do not feel alienated.

On the proposals to change grace, the spokesman said: "In line with its commitment to equality as an educational charity, the College has been examining its student provisions.

"The College has recently created a multi-faith prayer room and it voted at its last Governing Body meeting to expand the range of texts that can be said at formal dinners from the single option of the Christian grace in Latin to include texts from other religions and cultures."


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