English Colleges Afford Fantastic Social Life

To the editors:



I hope Juliet Samuel (“A Place Called Community,” op-ed, Sep. 18) means well, but she seems rather misinformed about the ways the English system of university education works. Although I am told she is British, I took a degree from Oxbridge, and I cannot say I recognize those esteemed universities in the caricature she presents.

Oxbridge undergrads and grad students enjoyed a healthy social life with all sorts of people, not just their entryway cohort, at least in my experience of less than 10 years ago. Merely being part of the same college gave most of us all the excuse we needed to socialize with the few hundred other students who lived around us. And for those who sought other outlets, the great array of clubs, societies, sports teams, and even a newspaper that consumed its students’ lives offered equal opportunity to those presented by Harvard. And since Oxbridgians only took exams at the end of the year, they were even freer than Harvard students to throw themselves wholly into college life, sports, and any sort of extracurricular you might imagine.



NATHAN A. PAXTON

Cambridge, Mass.

September 19, 2006



The writer is a resident tutor in Winthrop House and a Ph.D. candidate in the government department.