I chose Vanbrugh after a bit of a mental checklist one evening while poring over the University website. Central location, good accommodation, lots of music, not Derwent: all seemed to be going in Vanbrugh’s favour. Thank goodness it has these qualities to make up for the shattering eyesore that is the Vanbrugh College logo.
Yes, the logo. My goodness that logo. It seems to have been torn straight out of a 1980s leisure centre specialising in the manufacture of stairs, musical instruments and waterfowl.
Even discounting the frankly hideous teal and purple bus-company colour scheme, someone somewhere seems to have taken the letter V (a risky enough choice at the best of times) and run with it far, far too far.
This abomination of graphic design is one of the few aspects of this University and particularly my college that I cannot, nay, will not, simply learn to love.
The other colleges’ logos are varied in colour and content but not in theme. Derwent is perhaps the furthest on Hes West from standard heraldry but even they bother to put the ‘DC’ in a shield.
James have that clever little J as the swan’s foot, which I suppose is cute. Hell, even Constantine have a variation on some sort of shield, and even though it’s a bright pink scotum I’d still rather that than the loud, dated (yet apparently only a few years old), wayward V I have to strive under now.
Alcuin doesn’t have isolation and test tubes arranged in a giant A. Wentworth and the Hes East colleges have logos that are positively Oxbridgean, and I want in.
When even the Vanbrugh website seems to eschew their official insignia for the goose detail, something is amiss. The fact that the logo rarely sees the light of day is a mark against it, not an excuse for its continued ‘use.’
There’s a lesson in this. Heraldry looks good. Even if the college (the University too, come to mention it) is young, there’s no need to keep the plate-glass to emphasise this in the ugliest possible way.
Sir John Vanbrugh was an architect, for crying out loud. He’d be turning in his grave if he could see the monstrosity we’ve so wantonly attached to his name.
Looking at college merchandise is a tear-inducing exercise at the best of times, but I cannot think why anyone in their right minds would go anywhere near that college tie, let alone for £10.
York may never have Oxbridge levels of college spirit or pride, but there’s no need to exacerbate this when the only rallying point outside university looks like something your parents might have been given after a free gym taster session when they were our age.
We may have missed the 50th Anniversary as an excuse to get this done, but why do we need an excuse beyond wanting a logo that doesn’t make us want to retch and opt for standard university hoodies over the ones belonging to our college? I would suggest the coat of arms of John Vanbrugh, or at least a college referendum and design competition.
I’m not asking for much. Just give me a shield to stick on my chest like everyone else, and let me feel like that decision I made was one to be proud of.