Merton bans trashing over fears of ‘elitism’

The deans claimed that trashing represents the University's "elitism, ostentation, and lavishness”

Photo: Michael Brace

Merton College has banned trashing within 100 yards of college premises and threatened students with disciplinary action.

In an email sent to students in early May, Merton’s Junior Dean for Discipline, Rebecca Beattie, said: “Trashing is not allowed anywhere on Merton College premises and will face disciplinary action. 

Given Merton’s proximity to Exam Schools, the ban effectively extends to all city-centre trashings.

“While Oxford is often loath to give up its many incomprehensible and mysterious traditions, trashing is not a tradition of which the University is particularly proud. 

“The University acknowledges that trashing represents the very worst of the stereotypes with which Oxford can sometimes be associated, including elitism, ostentation, and lavishness.”

The Junior Dean asked students to consider how many people in the UK are either homeless or struggle to live above the poverty line, as well as the fact that the University spends more than £25,000 per year on security and cleaning up after trashing, as revealed by Cherwell this month.

Beattie continued: “How do you think these [struggling] residents of our city feel upon seeing students doused in champagne and foodstuffs during the exam season?

“How many of us would instead like to see that [money] used to improve facilities and services?

“It is also worth bearing in mind that trashing has disciplinary consequences at a university level and, due to all of the above considerations, is against the University’s Code of Conduct.

“With all of these considerations in mind we sincerely hope that students of Merton College set an example by not perpetuating this outdated tradition and by celebrating the end of exams in more appropriate ways.”

In an email sent this week, seen by Cherwell, the Junior Dean reiterated the College’s condemnation of trashing. Beattie stated that by participating in trashing, students were “participating in an outdated tradition characterised by waste, elitism, and obnoxiousness,” “causing a lot of mess,” and “being disruptive to those in the vicinity.”

Beattie added: “Any member of Merton caught trashing in College, caught trashing within 100 yards of College, caught causing litter in or near College because of having been trashed, or caught acting as an obstacle at entrances or on nearby footpaths because of trashing-related activities will face immediate punishment.”

Trashing can lead to disciplinary action and fines of up to £300 according to University regulations. 

Earlier this term, the University launched its ‘What a Waste’ campaign to discourage students from participating in trashings – but the practice has continued throughout the term.

Merton did not respond to Cherwell‘s request for comment.

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