Students have reacted with disgust at a recent University statement on trashing, with senior management seeming to imply that Oxford’s homelessness problem was due to the generosity of students.
In an email sent to students, the University’s junior and senior proctor – Cecile Fabre and Mark Edwards – wrote on the subject of trashing students after their Finals examinations.
The proctors noted that “Oxford’s students have a highly developed social conscience, as is evident from the number of homeless people who come to seek assistance in this city”, and that “needless waste of food is an aggravation of their distress”.
They also said that trashing makes the University look “like one giant Bullingdon Club”.
The tone and wording of the email expressed widespread backlash among students and online, with users describing the statement as “sickening” and “grim”.
In a statement to Cherwell, the Chair of On Your Doorstep, Oxford SU’s homelessness campaign, Alex Kumar, said: “I think we would all appreciate it if the University management opted to step up to take meaningful action to help those who go homeless in our city – perhaps by allowing local charities to use unused properties in the city as shelter this winter – rather than cynically weaponise Oxford’s homelessness crisis as an attack on students.”
Attention was also raised to a “patronising” email from the Balliol dean, who “wondered how many homeless people on the Oxford streets have witnessed trashing this summer, and thought to themselves whether the money spent on shaving foam, sprayed Lambrini, non-biodegradable glitter and confetti, and the clean-up costs, could perhaps have been put to better use.”
Earlier this term, Cherwell revealed that the University spends £25,000 a year on the security and cleaning costs of post-exam trashings.
This has prompted a renewed University-wide anti-trashing campaign, though this has largely been ignored by students.
The University proctors had sent the email to students to express their disappointment that “the trashing in north Oxford extended beyond the premises of Ewert House to the Co-op, and that some students brought ballistic mechanisms which are a hazard to other students, to the public and not least to their inventors”.
They also noted that “even an ordinary celebration which involves the spraying of alcohol is technically a criminal offence”.
The University’s Senior Proctor, Mark Edwards, told Cherwell: “It is an easily ascertainable fact that there are more homeless people on the streets of Oxford than on the streets of most comparably-sized towns in England. This has been the case so long as either proctor can remember…”
He added that “the fact that homeless people come to Oxford from elsewhere is clearly acknowledged. This is a credit to the city’s excellent facilities, but also, we believe, to the generosity of students, townsfolk and tourists.”