The revelation that holidays in a college-funded chalet are being used to reward “favourite students”, has sparked outrage among Balliol undergraduates.
Although the college funds the chalet at a cost of around £5000 a year, students are selected by college trustees, based on criteria that is unknown to the JCR, and there is no open application process. Up until a few months ago, this panel of trustees included the Dean.
A motion was passed this week by Balliol JCR which said, “The college should not be subsidising an Alpine chalet for the Dean and his favourite students.”
The motion called for access to the chalet should be opened up to all students ‘based on a system of random allocation of places (e.g. in groups of 1-4).”
One Balliol undergraduate expressed his opinion that, “The Dean basically picks his favourites, or, less provocatively, choir people and perhaps rowers”.
Balliol JCR President Stephen Dempsey told Cherwell, “Places are selected by the academic administrator in conjunction with particular tutors who make use of the chalet. They obviously choose the people they want to go on holiday with.”
During the Balliol JCR meeting on Sunday night, Chris Gross bought forward a motion that questioned the selection procedure for the chalet.
The motion was passed with an overwhelming majority.
Despite Balliol’s precarious financial situation, which earlier this year led to a proposed £500 blanket charge to all incoming students, JCR members were in general supportive of the college’s commitment to the chalet.
A student at Balliol present at the JCR meeting said, “We decided to support the college’s continued involvement with the chalet, as long as allocaton of places is done on a transparent, random basis.
“This is because it doesn’t cost much to subsidise and it could be a really nice institution to be proud of going forward”.
Dempsey described the motion as “fantastic”.
He added, “The passing of the motion is much more in keeping with the egalitarian principles that we have”.
When contacted by Cherwell, the Dean was unavailable to comment on the matter.
The 1909 Chalet des Anglais is situated in the French Alps opposite Mont Blanc. The chalet is administered by Balliol jointly with two other Oxford colleges, New and University.
Each summer the three colleges take turns in allowing parties of around 14 students to spend a week-long reading and walking holiday in the electricity-free chalet.
At New College, places are filled on a first come first served basis following an email sent out to all JCR and MCR members. University College has a similarly open selection method and any student can apply to go on the trip.
New College student Joey D’Urso who is going to the chalet this summer, said, “I think the chalet is an amazing opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.
The University Press Office declined to make a statement, explaining that it was a matter for colleges rather than the University. The trustees of the chalet were not available for comment.