At the end of Trinity term, the final term of the academic year, graduating students at the University of Oxford get the chance to engage in a spectacularly messy revelry known as Trashing. As these students hand in their last exams and walk out the door of the Examination Schools, gangs of eagerly awaiting friends greet them, armed with eggs, ketchup, pudding, canned beans, whipped cream, paprika, tuna fish, and plenty of bottles of champagne.
What happens next can only be described as chaos, as friends shower the students with food products (as well as nonedibles such as shaving foam, silly string, and confetti) and pour champagne over their heads. The cobblestone roads and gardens behind Christ Church College and Merton College play unofficial host to this party scene, as the students scream, laugh, and pass around gifts and hearty congratulations. The formal uniforms worn by the exam-takers become soiled beyond belief, and the edible assault does not end until the victim jumps into the frigid Cherwell river to clean off.
Due to its conspicuously decadent nature, Trashing has become a source of controversy in recent years. The city of Oxford has problems with homelessness and food insecurity, and the mountain of wasted food as a result of Trashing can be considered offensive. For the university, Trashing can be an image problem, especially in greater discussions of student privilege and entitlement, as well as a financial problem. Oxford’s website says that Trashing-related cleanup and security costs more than $32,500 (£25,000) each year. But for some students, Trashing is a fun tradition that marks the end of a student’s degree.
Where to Try It
Christ Church College, University of Oxford88 St Aldate's, England, OX1 1RA, United Kingdom
Trashing always occurs at the end of Trinity term. Check the academic calendar for exact dates. Most Trashing festivities take place on Merton Street, behind Christ Church College.