Aside from work, a lot goes on at Balliol: Hall dinners, Chapel services, speaker lunches, debates, concerts, plays, sport, society meetings and much more.
Societies include the Arnold and Brackenbury Society (a comedy debating society), the Balliol Literary Society, and the Left Caucus, which gathers to discuss left-wing issues. The long-standing Balliol Musical Society, uniquely in Oxford, organises a series of Sunday evening concerts that are free and open to all, and in which many famous names have performed over the years. There are also tea-time concerts by College Members and an active College Choir. The Balliol Drama Society fosters dramatic talent at all levels and puts on a Charity Musical every year; the College has its own performance space, the Michael Pilch Studio. ‘Bruce’s brunches’, organised by the Chaplain, bring a steady stream of interesting speakers throughout the term.
Football and rowing are probably the most popular sports, but students also play rugby, netball, hockey, cricket, squash, tennis, badminton, croquet, bridge, and bar sports (table football, darts, and pool), and, recently, mixed lacrosse, karting and Ultimate Frisbee too. Balliol teams compete in intercollegiate competitions (known as Cuppers) for all of these.
For any student who needs help or advice, there are trained people to turn to, led by the Wellbeing and Welfare Officer, and including student peer supporters. The College Nurse is available to help with a wide range of health matters.
Junior Common Room (JCR)
The JCR (the undergraduate body) is unusual in the level of input it makes to College life. It has a voice on key committees, administers a substantial budget, runs its own Pantry and is responsible for the Lindsay Bar, also run by students. It organises entertainments, offers members opportunities to get involved in issues that matter to them, promotes the interests of its minority groups, and has won a reputation for its members’ enterprise and altruism. Balliol JCR members participate and are successful in many areas of University life too, such as sports, journalism, politics and the arts.
Middle Common Room (MCR)
The MCR (the graduate body) is a friendly, diverse and supportive intellectual and social community, which has a busy calendar of events, from seminars to bops, debates to film screenings. It has a reputation as one of the most active MCRs in Oxford; for instance, it has taken the lead amongst the Oxford colleges on social justice campaigns.