Students strip in Oxford College library

5 June 2011

Students at Oxford’s Worcester College have found a novel way to make time spent in the library more bearable…fewer clothes.

Worcester students have been getting their kit off in the college library as a way of entertaining themselves during long hours of revision.

According to Oxford’s Cherwell, the tradition has been dubbed “half-naked half hour”, during which students strip from the waist up and continue to study half-naked before re-clothing themselves thirty minutes later. Up to forty students, male and female, can get involved at one time.

The library-loving nudist belong to a group that calls itself “The Breakfast Club”, “an inclusive society at Worcester College of thirty or so members who really like a good breakfast.”

The club has existed since 2009, and is behind other college institutions such as Beachwear Wednesdays and Hat Saturdays. A JCR motion was even recently brought forward to appropriate funds for the already popular Suit Up Thursdays and to propose a new event, “Tranny Tuesdays”.

The Worcester Library Committee is not amused, however, and has cracked down on “half-naked half hour”. In a recent email sent to the college, the head librarian and fellow librarian called such behaviour “unacceptable”. “It may have seemed like a piece of harmless fun,” they wrote “but we ask you please to stop this kind of behaviour in the Library.”

They added that the library had received “a number of complaints” about the practice and warned that “if inappropriate behaviour continues, Library staff will refer the matter to the Dean.”

One member of the Breakfast Club told Cherwell; “I am a big fan of half-naked half hour and a very keen participant…Contrary to the librarian’s claims, it is simply a harmless piece of fun where a small group of cracking-looking fellas try to add a bit of light to what would otherwise be a dull day of revision… Half-naked half hour is not a distraction for people unless they want it to be.”

It seems that Worcester may have already begun to take action against the nudists in question. One participant refused TCS comment, lamenting that he “really shouldn’t say anything” because he was “already going to get in trouble with the Dean about all this.” The Dean was unavailable to comment and The JCR President declined to comment.

Another student told TCS: “As far as I see it, the half-naked half hour is harmless fun and a brief glimmer of variety in an otherwise dull week of revision. It’s also indicative of the light-hearted and relaxed nature of the student body at Worcester. Given the amount of bare flesh shown at bops, it’s hard to be shocked by someone without a shirt.”

 “There was an incident late last term where a librarian came across a used condom, presumably the result of some late-night nookie between the shelves. There was a delicately-worded letter from the Dean to all undergraduates, threatening that should it happen again, the college’s libraries would be shut from 6pm to 9am until someone ‘fessed up – not ideal were it to happen in Trinity Term! In light of this, I think it’s entirely understandable that the college wants to assert its authority.”

Many students at other Oxford Colleges are envious of the spectacle. “I think they shouldn’t be doing it in Worcester,” one St. Catherine’s student complained to TCS, “they should be in the Social Sciences library. It’s full of attractive people.”

A student from Queen’s noted, “If more girls were involved in things like this, people would spend a lot more time in the library.”

When asked for its own policy regarding student nudity, the Cambridge University Library declined to comment.

Carrie Radnofsky

Photo Credit: Sam Greenhalgh