St Catherine’s College JCR has been refusing to stand for High Table at formal all week in an attempt to raise awareness of the ongoing dispute between the College and its JCR.
This follows the JCR’s declaration of independence last Tuesday and the decision of the JCR body to carry out collective action in part to protest the “threatening” treatment and “disregard” of some senior members towards the JCR and its president, Jack Hampton.
The primary purpose of the collective action is now to achieve specific demands at next week’s College Finance Committee meeting, which Hampton has been permitted to attend and address on this one occasion.
One such demand, as outlined in a motion at last Tuesday’s extraordinary meeting, is for permanent student representation on Finance Committee. Other demands include the implementation of itemised battels, as is widely carried out around Oxford, “to provide clarity and transparency”.
The payment of the £5,600 owed to the JCR for this term, which was raised from the JCR levy, is a further core demand, as well as the reversal of the decision to take control of JCR financing “until proper consultation of the JCR has been carried out”.
While the JCR has become an unincorporated association of the College, St Catherine’s is yet to relinquish its control of JCR finances.
The JCR committee is driving the protest with slogans such as, “Sit down for your rights,” and, “Stand up to college, by sitting down,” authored by JCR Vice-President Sian Kelly.
In an email written by Hampton which he had asked all JCR members to send to their tutors this week, he explained the JCR’s objections to the College’s intention to reimburse payments made by JCR committee members after they have paid for items with their own money. “Christ Church has this system and they [members of Christ Church JCR committee] have written to me telling me how it results in only those with the personal financial capacity necessary to foot the bill running for committee positions, which is clearly an access issue.”
First year PPEist Marca Fiorina told Cherwell, “So far our actions of collective mobilisation against the College, such as not standing up for the fellows in Hall, have been productive in bringing our plight to their attention; many fellows, especially our tutors, were unaware of the troubles between the JCR and College.
“I feel that actions like refusing to stand up in Hall and spreading this email are a good start to our campaign to raise awareness within the college executive of what is happening, and I am confident that they will answer positively and sympathise with our cause.
“If the standoff is not resolved by such actions, more radical solutions might be necessary. But for now, the situation, at least from the point of view of an observer outside of the actual negotiations, seems to be progressing positively.”
St Catherine’s College refused to comment.