Scholars at Gonville and Caius College were angered this week when it emerged that they would not be receiving invitations to the college’s annual Perse Feast.

The feast, which is held just after the end of Michaelmas term, is usually attended by third and fourth-year undergraduates who have achieved a first in their end-of-year examinations. But a rise in the number of fellows and scholars has forced the college to exclude third-years from the celebrations. Instead, they will be invited to a second feast, the Drosier Feast, held in Lent term.

One finalist said, “It genuinely upsets me. I was really looking forward to it.” Another affected undergraduate said that he had chosen not to travel by coach to this year’s Varsity ski trip because it departed on December 7, the same day he anticipated attending the Feast. He explained that he would now “miss a whole day of the trip” for no reason.

The decision to change the college’s policy was taken by the Feast Management Committee on June 20 2007, but students were only informed this week, a delay which has provoked criticism of college. “The thing that is pissing me off isn’t the specifics about the feast, it’s the fact that college, as usual, neither consulted nor informed us of this decision when it was taken,” one student told Varsity. He added, “I think it’s symptomatic of certain college administrators’ complete disregard for students.” On the matter of the Perse Feast, though, the college has been apologetic. Caius’ Domestic Bursar, Ian Herd, has sent a letter dated 13 November to all those involved stating that he is “sorry” that “communication over the Perse Feast has been defective. We realise now that it would have been more efficient to avoid any misunderstanding by letting all scholars know of the new arrangements sooner, and we apologise for this. I am glad that we have been able to put the picture straight with almost a month to go before the date of the Feast.”

Sir Christopher Hum, Master of Caius, told Varsity that he was sorry for the confusion caused, but said that he was “glad” that the Drosier Feast, which had been discontinued for “reasons of economy” some years ago, was to be reinstated. He added, “This gives us the chance also to invite a slightly larger number of college guests (people prominent in the University and in public life), thereby showing a more friendly face to the outside world.”

This latest controversy comes amidst a general rise in student dissatisfaction with the college’s administration this term. Caius is the only college in Cambridge in which undergraduates are forced to buy a fixed number of “dinner tickets” for evening hall, a long-standing bone of contention. Discontent has also been inflamed this term by kitchens having frequently run out of food and by the removal of hobs from kitchens. In addition, there have been reports of college officials entering sleeping students’ bedrooms without their permission to take down posters stuck up with banned Blu-Tac.
Angela Fanshawe