Oxford College forced to drop 'Romans or Roadmen' bop theme after complaints it was classist

Camilla Turner
The event was due to be held at St Hugh’s College this Saturday - Ian Jones Retained

An Oxford College was forced to drop its “Romans and Roadmen” bop theme after complaints that it was “classist”. The event, which was due to be held at Theresa May's alma mater St Hugh’s College this Saturday,  invited students to dress up in either a toga, tracksuits or "whatever roadworker attire you have in your closet".

The term “roadmen” is urban slang, used to refer to young men who loiter on the streets, dress in casual wear, and possibly sell drugs.

On the event’s Facebook page, students were advised: “Do not bring knives or large swords as part of your roadman or Roman costume. Also ensure togas are secured.”

But the theme came under fire from students who claimed it was “classist” and offensive to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

One Oxford student told student paper, The Tab: "Not only is it outrageous but classist. It doesn't help Oxford's image of being an elitist institution."

Eireann Attridge, a postgraduate student at Oxford, called the event “sickening” adding: "Knife crime is killing people in the UK and you [want to] write ‘don’t bring knives as part of your costume’.”

Another student said: "132 people died because of knife crime in London last year alone, with many more lives ruined: the callousness with which the political class treat the working class, particularly the black working class, begins at an early age."

The organisers of the event, who said they are both from black or ethnic minority backgrounds, apologised and have now changed the theme.

"As soon as we made the event public, we received concerns about the bop theme,” they said.

“Hearing these concerns and being made aware of the racial and classist connotations with the term 'roadman', we immediately chose to change our event and apologise to everyone.

"We did not comprehend the gravity of the term, until this was raised to us, and we should have known better. We understand the mistake we made, and we are grateful for those who spoke out against it.”