St Hilda’s JCR yesterday passed a motion to establish the position of Class Liberation Officer. Once appointed, the Officer will focus on equalising opportunity for those from working-class and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The motion was proposed by Charles Ors and seconded by Nina Chatrath, both second-years, and passed overwhelmingly in the meeting on Sunday evening.
The motion notes “Students from socio/economically disadvantaged /‘working class’ backgrounds are underrepresented at the University of Oxford, and in the Higher Education system generally.” It also recognises that these students may suffer from “microaggressions” and “classism” during their time at university.
Speaking to Cherwell, Ors said, “At St Hilda’s we already have four liberation officers—LGBTQ+ Officer, People of Colour and Racial Equalities Officer, Disabilities Officer and Women’s Officer. Those from a socio/economically disadvantaged/working class background were a liberation group who were not represented by a specific liberation officer on the committee—we thought it was time to change that!
“The Access and Equal Opportunities Officer on the JCR Committee will continue to work with the college in terms of outreach—but we believe that once students from a socio/economically disadvantaged/working class background are here in Oxford there should be a JCR Committee officer to represent any specific liberation issues/provide welfare support.”
Chatrath said to Cherwell “The Access and Equal Opportunities Officer on the JCR Committee will continue to work with the college in terms of outreach but this post was not a representative role, making it even more important that St Hilda’s ensures that those from socio-economically disadvantaged/working class backgrounds are fairly represented.
“In a similar vein to the other liberation officers, the officer will run a compulsory workshop during Freshers’ Week informing all students of the issues that the students that they represent can face, and how they can be an ally etc. We will be organising our first ever elections for this position at the start of Hilary. This is a proud moment for St Hilda’s College.”
The decision follows institutions including the University of Manchester, SOAS (University of London) and King’s College London, who have a ‘Working Class Students’ Officer’ on their Student Union/JCR committees.
In September this year Cherwell reported that the University’s intake of freshers was to have the highest proportion of state school students for at least forty years. The University offered 59.2 per cent of its places to state-school students, while the Independent Schools Councils estimates that about 93 per cent of all UK pupils are educated in state schools.
The St Hilda’s JCR President declined to comment on this matter. The college has been contacted for comment.