College Life Blog

Search all blog posts

Welfare at Christ Church: Vacation Officer

Written by Gayathri Karthik, posted on Thursday, May 17, 2018

14th-20th May is Mental Health Awareness Week. University can be stressful at times, but there are plenty of sources of support and advice within college and the wider University that can help to alleviate some of the stress. In this post Gayathri Karthik, the GCR Vacation Officer, talks about her recently established role, the first of its kind in Oxford, and the ways in which it provides support to graduate students by organising social events and activities over the vacations.


There is no doubt that Oxford tends to come to life during the eight weeks of term time. Everything from public lectures to social events, talks, BOPs, seminars, balls, and parties are crammed into those eight weeks of full term. When the undergraduates go down (leave Oxford at the end of term), they take with them most of the critical mass required to organise larger social events. Graduates who hang around on the other hand seem to scuttle back to their departments and bury themselves in their work. This is especially so when no meals are taken in college outside of term time. During the winter, and especially for students who can't go home, vacations can be a time of social isolation and loneliness. To alleviate this, Christ Church's GCR created the role of Vacation Officer, the first of its kind among colleges in Oxford. The officers organise social events for those still in Oxford outside of term time, with events being held at college so that members can come together. 

One of the more popular events organised during vacations were board games nights. Originally set up to just be a night where members could come together and play board games in the GCR with nibbles and drinks, on occasion, it morphed into intense poker tournaments and monopoly games where friendships were forged and broken. There were also regular cocktail nights and movie nights, with another favourite being the wine and cheese night. As a substitute for dinner at Hall, BYO (Bring Your Own) dinners were organised in the GCR to give members an opportunity to bring along their own food and eat together. 

Most of the events appeared popular among the students who remained in Oxford during the holidays. Even undergraduates, some of whom stayed during the Easter vacation, attended several events. The Oxford Student Union, appreciating the success of the role, have tried to implement similar events throughout the University, as have several other colleges. As the rather long summer vacation looms, the events organised by the Vacation Officer will be critical in keeping the college graduate community tightly knit. 


Gayathri Karthik

GCR Vacation Officer