New role for Campion Hall Middle Common Room

Meeting of PresCom at Campion Hall
Meeting of PresCom at Campion Hall

A graduate institution

One of the major differences between Campion Hall and the larger Colleges of Oxford University is that Campion only has post-graduate students.

As a consequence, Campion does not possess a Junior Common Room and all its students belong to the Hall’s Middle Common Room (MCR). This plays a large part in organising the life and the academic and social activities of the Hall as a whole, including its members being allocated house jobs ranging from maintaining the wine cellar and the sacristy through regular updating of the website to keeping an eye on the condition of the Hall’s bicycles.

Modern developments

The Campion MCR has developed significantly, and it now represents a wide spectrum of disciplines, from the sciences through the social sciences to the humanities, as well as an impressive variety of nationalities. As a result of the increase in membership and the variety of disciplines being read, the MCR began last year to expand its activities in the Hall, and also within the wider university.
In Michaelmas term they held a special formal dinner for the members of the Campion Hall MCR. Twenty members attended the dinner and the social evening, sharing in preparing the meal and making use of the refurbished lecture room as the venue for the dinner, and of the newly appointed Persons Room for the subsequent social gathering. 

In Hilary term the Campion Middle Common Room made history in being the first University Permanent Private Hall (PPH) to host the termly meeting of the Presidents of the University’s Middle Common rooms (PresCom) and to entertain them to dinner. More than thirty presidents of the University’s MCRs were present, as well as the leadership team of Oxford Student Union (OSU); and the whole Campion community was delighted to join the visitors for the formal dinner and the subsequent social gathering in the Hall’s Common Room (pictured). The enjoyable occasion provided a valued opportunity to make the Hall and its work and aims better known to the university community.

Closer links

The Master of Campion Hall has warmly agreed to host the PresCom presence at Campion on an annual basis; and, in addition, the Hall’s MCR, under its current chair, Rev. Gerard Ryan SJ, a doctoral student in Theology, has instituted a termly MCR exchange with other colleges. Such exchanges will be a permanent feature of the Hall’s termly calendar, allowing its MCR members greater opportunities to visit as well as to host other Colleges of the University.

Origins of Campion Hall

Campion Hall was originally founded to enable young members of the Jesuit Order to gain Oxford degrees, but not in priestly theology or philosophy, which they studied in their own training college near the village of Heythrop in North Oxfordshire. The studies they pursued in Oxford were in various other academic subjects, especially Classics, History and English, which would qualify them to teach in the numerous schools which the Jesuits then ran in their British Province and their mission territories of Southern Rhodesia, South Africa and British Guyana.

In the 1970s, as the number of British Jesuits began to decrease and they were withdrawing from many of their schools, Campion’s academic policy changed, and it began to concentrate on being a Jesuit house for postgraduate studies, now including theology and philosophy. It also drew now on Jesuit graduate students from abroad to study for doctorates in their field and return to lecturing and postdoctoral research elsewhere, a future role for the Hall which the celebrated Master, Martin D’Arcy, had envisioned as far back as the 1930s. The Hall also admitted a few male graduate students who were not Jesuits.

This article appeared in the Campion Hall News Hilary Term Editor Jack Mahoney SJ