College JCRs discuss funding Irish students to vote in referendum

The minutes of the Christ Church meeting, seen by Cherwell, showed that some students were concerned the motion was "irrelevant", as there were only two JCR members eligible to receive funding.

Christ Church and Exeter JCRs passed motions on Sunday to fund the travel expenses of Irish students returning home to vote in the 8th Amendment referendum.

Exeter JCR resolved to allocate £220 for returning students’ travel, while Christ Church JCR’s Gender Equalities representative was mandated to lobby the college for funds.

While both motions initially endorsed the repeal of the 8th Amendment, they were amended throughout the respective meetings to include more neutral language.

The minutes of the Christ Church meeting, seen by Cherwell, showed that some students were concerned the motion was “irrelevant”, as there were only two JCR members eligible to receive funding. Other students felt the motion would be too political.

Exeter passed a separate motion in support of the Repeal the 8th campaign, which read: “This common room should oppose any measures which make it more difficult for our student members to choose either to terminate a pregnancy or to carry it to term and to work to ensure that no additional restrictions are imposed at any level so that Oxford students have a real choice.”

The motion passed with 31 votes in favour and two against.

Exeter JCR President, Ellie Milne-Brown, told Cherwell that students aren’t expected to vote to support the Repeal campaign.

She said: “Exeter JCR voted to endorse the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, and voted to provide funds totalling £220 to help Irish students travel home to vote.

“While the JCR supports the repeal of the Amendment and the right of women to choose what happens to their bodies, the travel funds are available to students no matter how they plan to vote.

“We are committed to allowing students to participate in the democratic process with no economic barrier, no matter their political allegiances.”

Former Oxford Students for Life committee member and third-year PPEist, Ben Conroy, told Cherwell: “Though it’s good to see that the money will be available for anyone who wants to fly back, Exeter JCR’s stance is both predictable and unfortunate. It’s sad that they decided to vote against human rights for all humans.”

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“I can’t fly home myself, which I’m gutted about: the referendum is right in the middle of my final exams, and I have one on the day of the vote.

“I’d encourage ‘No’ voters who can make it to make use of the funding: this is a once-in-a-generation chance to uphold the idea that no human being should be outside the scope of justice.”

The JCRs’ actions follow Oxford SU’s recent resolution to allocate £500 towards Irish students’ travelling costs.