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Just Stop Oil protests to cowboy boots: Here’s what went down at Exeter’s 2023 graduations

We know you took a picture on the rock


Since last Monday, the University of Exeter has been hosting summer graduation, welcoming graduates to call on the bank of Mum and Dad for £42 in robe hires. It’s okay to admit: We’ve all maxed out an overdraft at least once.

Summer graduation ended just over a week later, at the university’s Penryn Campus – for the Cornish elite of Exeter alumni. With grad week wrapped up, here is a summary of the orange-stained and messy highlights…

1. A trip to Timepiece to settle the nerves

After witnessing half of the university treat themselves to a well-earnt Exeter girls’ holiday after exams, there was something wholesome in seeing Instagram flooded with toilet selfies and dancefloor photoshoots at TP.

Whilst some opted to starve themselves of the hallowed walls, saving the club for the Graduation Ball, a few of you crept in the night before your graduations. One can only assume the sickly familiarity of a venom is the almighty elixir to calm the butterflies the night before the big day. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? A protest? Surely not.

2. The critically-acclaimed, mandatory rock picture

Need I say more.

3. The alt girl’s library picture

I’ll be honest here, the library photoshoots have grown on me. Originally, I was going to compare the classic rock picture and the library pic to Heinz and Tesco Value Ketchup, respectively. But, now I see the error in my initial assumption.

Grabbing a random book from the shelf, some of you have provided perfect, grad content for the Insta. Look at all you alternative influencers!

4. Just Stop Oil made grad a one to remember

The first day of graduation week saw Eddie Whittingham interrupt his own ceremony with a Stop Oil Protest at the Exeter University forum, spraying orange paint across the location’s steps.

It is his second notable protest for the eco-activist group. Exactly three months ago, the Exeter student had hopped up on the table of the snooker world championship to not only highlight the global energy crisis but also to reveal that orange looks good on him.

It is his second notable protest for the eco-activist group. Exactly three months ago, the Exeter student had hopped up on the table of the snooker world championship to not only highlight the global energy crisis but also to reveal that orange looks good on him.

A PPE graduate told The Exeter Tab: “We heard rumours it was happening [but] it didn’t ruin [the] vibes at all [as it] was dealt with quickly”, closing with the comment that Whittingham’s sequel was “just an extra memory for [an already memorable] day”.

5. ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’

As for all graduations, what you’re going to wear is something that will change more times than I change seats at Batty Bingo (I swear, I’ve never completed a full round).

The university’s website acknowledges the mandatory “academic dress” of the blue-hooded grad gown, setting expectations that graduates wear smart clothes and, most importantly, appropriate footwear.

To the Graduating Class of 2023, you all shaped up pretty nicely if you don’t mind me saying.

But! No one could’ve expected this English graduate to do it quite like they did, sporting a beautiful pair of red country boots that Ted Mosby himself would be proud of.

Reportedly, even a chancellor felt beguiled enough to comment “great boots!”

6. Congratulations parents, bragging right’s secured

As a renowned mama’s boy, seeing the proud looks on parents’ faces pulls at my heartstrings.

Though, little do they know that 90 per cent of their darlings’ university experience has been doing anything but work, living and dying by the mantra, “for the plot”. Chugging for rugby boys, scouring Tinder or making an impromptu themed outfit – all of these have been prioritised over work.

None the wiser, loved ones now get to brag about their prodigal babies and the new degree in the family. I suppose for the other 10 per cent of your time at Exeter, you did what needed to be done.

7. Exeter Castle’s Graduation Ball

Ah! Nothing quite makes for an Exeter uni “canon event” like the castle party followed by TP entry. With the one day-hire robes gone, boys can slip back into their Ralph Lauren and girls into their ground-breaking floral dresses.

One thing I have to note: Did someone try really hard to manifest Unit 1’s Cheesy Tuesday Music? Between Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin and Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, Exeter Castle once again hosted a fun, drunken and celebratory night.

8. Emotional Goodbyes

The inevitable end of grad week has been tough. A large majority of you are finally packing up and moving out of Exeter for good. Pictures of emotional embraces and final flat photos have concluded Summer 2023’s grad post era: And, if you’re wondering why I have none to feature, I wouldn’t out my friends for their ugly crying.

With adult life quickly approaching, saying goodbye to your uni mates, nay – let’s get deep – your second family is tough. Don’t worry though, there’s more than enough ways to stay in touch…five to be exact.

From everyone at The Exeter Tab, a huge congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2023! Say goodbye to the mullets, flares and flatcest. And HELLO to an oversaturated job market and the impending new world order of ChatGPT.

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