Trinity Hall accused of cultural and religious misrepresentation

Juliette Bretan 26 January 2018

Trinity Hall is facing criticism of cultural and religious misrepresentation this week, following two separate issues highlighted by students on Facebook.

The first, a post on 22 January by Christ's student Georgia Humphrey, who is Wiccan, condemned Trinity Hall's June Event theme of Solstice, arguing that it was "gross" to use "a religious holiday as a theme" and that Trinity Hall were "not even having [the Solstice-themed event] on the right day". 

Trinity Hall's inThenet and JCR websites are also facing scrunity following complaints on Facebook about their information on Superhall menus. Commenting on Humphrey's post, one student sent a screenshotted image of a Trinity Hall website's Superhall information, which says:

"The menu is themed, and ranges from the classics of Italian and French, to the more exotic and unusual tastes of the Orient and beyond."

In a statement to TCS regarding the June Event theme, Humphrey said:

"I’m mostly upset that not only is a religious festival that thousands of people celebrate being made into an excuse for drunkenness, but the religious site at which pagans celebrate the solstice is even being used in their publicity with apparently no thought given to how insensitive that might be…I know that my religion isn’t a persecuted one…but it’s still faintly ridiculous. Especially since when I talk about my religion, and my belief in witchcraft, people tend to think I’m either joking or mental. But it’s fine to use the images and traditions that make up that belief as a form of entertainment."

The President of the June Event, Julia Davies, issued a statement two days later:

"The Trinity Hall June Event is one of the most popular events in May Week. We are therefore eminently mindful that guests will come from an array of faiths, cultures, socioeconomic and political backgrounds, and will represent myriad beliefs and traditions. Our theme – Solstice (from the Latin ‘solstitium’, which refers to a stopping of the sun’s motion in the sky) – is a celebration of an astronomical phenomenon which has been recognised and celebrated for several millennia across nearly all cultures and continents. We recognise the importance of the summer and winter solstice to the Wiccan community. Our theme is intended to highlight and celebrate the beauty of an astronomical marvel. Our predecessors across the world were awed by the beauty of the solstice and, like so many before and since, we share in their wonder and celebration. It has never been our intention to appropriate any aspect of Wiccan practice. We wish only to acknowledge and celebrate the beauty of the natural world. We invite people of all beliefs to experience the wonder of the summer solstice with us."