Rowing is a really good way to meet a variety of people, especially graduates at Balliol who are really interesting, friendly, and have lots of advice to give undergraduates! In the Autumn, the biggest college races are only for people who have never rowed before, so this is a great place to learn and participate in the sport at any level that you choose. It does involve a few early mornings, but it’s an excellent social environment and rowing can be really useful in helping to structure a university week.

This term, the Boat Club had its first bumping races of the year, called ‘Torpids’. These are where rowing boats line up behind each other in single file and each boat tries to catch the one ahead of it. If your boat touches the boat that started in front of you, or their cox (who sits at the back of a boat, shouting encouragement and steering) ‘concedes’, you move up a place to start from in front of that crew in the line the next day. Racing lasts for four days in total, beginning on Wednesday afternoon and finishing on Saturday. Balliol had a really successful week this year, with around eighty people involved in rowing, coxing and coaching, not to mention the excellent support we had on the final day. The results for the week were terrific for both the Women and the Men. For me personally, to have survived a series of very tough races trying to hold off New College was especially pleasing. If you’re interested, click here to watch a race.

Next term is ‘Summer Eights’, which follows a similar format and is equally exciting!

Charles Bertlin, Men’s Boat Club Captain


7th Week, Hilary 2016

What happened in Balliol this week?

There is a strong sense of women’s community within the Balliol student body, and so this week in order to celebrate International Women’s Day Balliol women came together for ‘Oxford Women Speak Out’. ‘Oxford Women Speak Out’ was a university wide project to give women the chance to send a message to women everywhere, by writing their message onto their body and then having a photograph taken. The Women’s Officers, Rachael and Daisy, organised tea and snacks, and the evening was so much fun!

This week, current second years who will move back into rooms on the main Balliol site in their third year chose which room they would like. All second year students are entered into a ballot, which produces a randomly ordered list. The first person on the list chooses a room to live in next year, from all of the available rooms in college. The second person chooses a room from all of the ones which are left, and so on until everyone had chosen a room. This was very exciting and fun for the second years, but it took a lot of hard work from the Housing Officer, Richard. Thank you Richard for all of the hours you spent sorting this out!!

The A&B society is a comedy debating club for Balliol students. Around 2-3 times each term, the society organises a debate in the Michael Pilch Studio. The motions debated are always obscure (e.g. ‘This house would let the cat out of the bag’), and the event is hilarious and much enjoyed by the Balliol community. The Pilch, which seats around 60-70 people, was full of people this week to hear the motion ‘This house would take a leap of faith’.

Formal Pantry was held on Friday this week. Each attendee received a three course meal, an hour of entertainment from the Oxford Imps, and lots of alcohol. The Foodies, who organise this event, really surpassed themselves this time, and everyone remarked upon what an outstanding job they did.

6th week, Hilary 2016

What happened in Balliol this week?

Sports Dinner

Sports Dinner was held on Monday evening, and the night was hugely successful. All of the Balliol sports teams are invited to the event, which is a three course meal in the beautiful Balliol hall.


Torpids is the name of the rowing regatta that took place over the course of Wednesday through to Saturday this week. It is the second biggest event in the rowing calendar after Summer Eights, the regatta held next term. Balliol’s rowing squads all had a great week, and celebrated with a dinner on Saturday evening. For a more in depth description of Torpids, and rowing in Oxford more generally, check out this blog post from the Men’s Captain, Charles Bertlin.


To add to the sporting fun, this week many university-wide sports clubs had Varsity competitions this week, where the Oxford university teams compete against their Cambridge counterparts.

The lift!!

This week, the construction work in the Balliol JCR was finally completed. We now have a lift installed, meaning that the college gym and the college bar are far more accessible than they were previously.

LBGTQ History Month

Balliol flew the Pride flag and the Trans flag for one day each this week, in honour of LBGTQ History Month.

Mirrorless Monday

Overnight on Sunday, most of the mirrors in Balliol were covered with brown paper. A pen was left next to each covered mirror, and over the course of the day the paper gradually became covered with supportive, uplifting messages. This was the Mirrorless Monday initiative, designed to remind people that their appearance didn’t matter, and to tie in with Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

5th Week, Hilary 2016

What happened in Balliol this week?

Monday evening of this week was very eventful. The majority of second year students attended Halfway Hall, to celebrate the halfway mark of their 3-year degrees. One of the highlights of Halfway Hall was an awards ceremony. Not wanting to be left out, the third years organised an event of their own on the same evening – a joke wedding ceremony. Two third years, Jenny and Darryl, had won ‘Most likely to get married’ at their own Halfway Hall this time last year, and the joke spiralled from there. Finally, wanting to join in the fun, the first years had a party in the Balliol Bar. After these separate events finished, all of the years joined together again for a megabop in Plush. Plush is Oxford’s gay club, and a megabop is a night out where just one or two colleges book out a club – we invited Wadham, since Balliol and Wadham share a reputation for left-wing politics within Oxford. To add even more fun to 5th week, there was also a bop on Saturday of this week. The theme was Queeroes, to coincide LBGTQIA+ history month.

More highlights of this week include free wellbeing events such as bread making with Bruce (the college chaplain, the friendliest man you’ll ever meet, and just a generally great all round person), a sign language class, an aromatherapy session, chlamydia testing (with free pints and cookies), and last but certainly not least the performance of the Charity Musical! Once again, the musical was a sell out success. Everyone loved the Balliol rendition of Robin Hood in the Michael Pilch Studio – so many people were involved, but a special shoutout goes to Sophie and Rivka, the Charities Reps, for overseeing the project.

Thank you to Lorin Samija for taking these amazing photos of Halfway Hall.

4th Week, Hilary 2016

What happened in Balliol this week?

The ‘JCR’ is the name of a room in Balliol – inside, it has lots of sofas and tables, a table tennis table, a big projector, and Pantry (our student run cafe). The JCR has been the place to be this week, with loads of different events taking place in there. First up was a screening of the film ‘Pride’ organised by the LBGTQIA+ reps, Ele and Rory.

The second screening of the week was the Superbowl!! The JCR was packed out for this event, despite many students having no knowledge whatsoever about baseball. The bar relocated upstairs to the JCR to provide the fans with drinks, and Pantry stayed open late to serve burgers, chips, and a range of other refreshments.

JCR tea this week was extra special this week. The Junior Deans, Paulo and AK, provided the snacks, and they really went all out. JCR tea featured tea and scones, and everyone really enjoyed these relatively luxurious free snacks.

Shrove Tuesday saw the JCR full of people once again, as Pantry served up pancakes and a range of toppings. This was really appreciated by Balliol students, since the kitchenettes here can be quite small (you’d probably struggle to flip a pancake!) and hall doesn’t serve snack-style food. The 2016 Foodies, Freddy and Zack, have had a fantastic start to their tenure – we’d like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for everything they do.

In addition to all of these great community events, on Thursday the JCR was used as a space for an evening of board games (kindly provided by Jimmy). From highly competitive games such as Risk to more casual ones like Jenga, and everything in between (like Super Mario Chess!) this evening was great fun.

James and Meg, the Drs WHO (Wellbeing and Health Officers), felt a bit sorry for the second years this week. In second year, most students move out of college grounds to live in either privately rented accommodation, or to a different block of college-owned accommodation on Jowett Walk. Consequently, some second years missed out whilst all of the above events were going on in college. James and Meg solved this problem by holding ‘Liver’s Out Brunch’ in a café called ‘Ricks’ on Cowley Road. Don’t worry, no one had their liver removed. Rather, those who ‘live out’ of college grounds were invited for free coffee, and many chose to buy themselves some brunch too.

Lastly, Hubert and Ploy organised ‘Bring your own Brit!’ in their role as Ethnic Minorities Students’ Officers. The idea behind BYOB was that ethnic minority or international students invited a friend to accompany them for tea or coffee, and banana bread in The Handlebar – a favourite Oxford coffee shop amongst Balliol students. The evening sounded super fun, and we hear that Hubert and Ploy have a few more exciting events up their sleeve for later in the term – we’re excited to see what they have in mind!


3rd Week, Hilary 2016

What happened in Balliol this week?

The week started off with a General Meeting of the student body. Issues discussed included regulation of the Balliol community Facebook group, commonly referred to as the ‘Freshers’ Page’, and the Rhodes Must Fall campaign. The GM discussions this week were clearly highly engaging, as turnout for the meeting was abnormally high. Balliol has a tradition of being exceptionally politically active, and this week’s GM definitely lived up to that reputation.

Rehearsals for Robin Hood, the Balliol Charity Musical continued this week, with the first full rehearsal (with the cast and the band together) taking place on Friday. We’re informed by the director, Pete, that the show is looking great so far.

The highlight of this week was Disability Awareness Week, an Oxford wide event. Molly Rodgers has done a fantastic job of advertising this week to the JCR. Molly also organised, and was responsible for running, the Balliol specific events. With ‘time to talk’ teas, information sessions, and ‘pledge a happy resolution’, the week was hugely engaging and informative. Great work Molly!

The week ended with Parents’ Dinner in Hall, where student’s bring their families and friends to enjoy a Balliol dinner. The event is very popular and tickets always sell out fast. After dinner, most people invite their guests to the Balliol Bar to continue the fun. It’s a really great opportunity to get to know your friends’ families and friends from home, and this term’s dinner didn’t disappoint. The evening of Parents’ Dinner was a very busy night in the bar!

Robin Hood

2nd Week, Hilary 2016

What happened in Balliol this week?

This week saw the debut of Acroyoga in the Pilch. The Pilch is a drama space owned by Balliol, which is used not only for drama performances but also as a space for exercising. The JCR ran very successful free Zumba and Yoga sessions weekly last term, and Acroyoga is a new addition to the line up. We are reliably informed it was loads of fun.

The directors of this year’s Balliol Charity Musical held auditions for a cast, and began rehearsals towards the end of this week. This year’s musical of choice is Robin Hood. The Balliol Charity Musical happens every year – Balliol students choose a musical to perform over the course of three nights, in the aforementioned Pilch, and all the money raised from ticket sales goes to charity.

The weekly welfare tea this week centred around biscuit decorating. The turnout for this event was great, and everyone enjoyed embracing their inner 5 year old. The biscuit theme continued as Pantry employed a new staff member, Charlotte Lawrence. It was quickly discovered that Charlotte was a pro at baking, and her biscuits and cookies have brightened the afternoons of many JCR members.

On the sport side of things, the Balliol JCR and MCR have teamed up to make a running club, which is hoping to enter some half marathons in the upcoming months, and the Balliol rugby team, lead by George Badger, had their first mixed touch session of the term. Mixed touch is becoming popular amongst the Balliol student community, and the team hopes that after running regular training sessions this term they will be well placed for success in next term’s league matches and competitions.

Rachel Grabiner, as a member of the Oxford Pink Week committee, successfully encouraged a large proportion of the JCR to get involved with fundraising in aid of Breast Cancer. Events ranged from an opening night at a nearby cocktail bar, to talks on the best ways to be aware of the signs of breast cancer.