Wadham Students’ Union is to become the fourth Oxford college to acquire a tortoise after the SU passed a motion on Sunday.
Students hope to enter their new pet in the annual Corpus Christi Tortoise Fair, in which different colleges are invited to race their tortoises.
Dominic Barker, one of the SU Food and Amenities officers behind the motion, said, "We’re hoping our new tortoise will act as a rallying point for Wadham loyalties in these revolutionary times. Whoever is placed in charge of the tortoise will command full respect."
The SU hopes that, having agreed to the plans, College authorities will permit them to house the animal in the college gardens or on the college’s Ho Chi Minh Quad.
A shortlist of names for the tortoise is to be proposed at the beginning of next term, and Barker suggested that any name was likely to reflect "Wadham’s liberal traditions".
SU Treasurer James Coe, who has been charged with purchasing the animal, said, "The tortoise will bring great joy to our comrades in the SU, and its indestructible nature and longevity will hopefully help it to continue to do this for years to come.
"I am in charge of buying the tortoise and hopefully we will be able to purchase a thoroughbred to compete in the annual Corpus Tortoise Fair, and show the rest of the University that Wadham pets are not to be messed with."
He added that the SU were considering giving the tortoise the deciding vote in any tied motions due to its revolutionary vision.
"It has been suggested by the Food and Amenities officers that if the SU’s vote on any motion is tied then the tortoise will cast the deciding vote, and will always vote for the motion due to its strong desire for social change," he said.
Oxford’s most legendary tortoise is Balliol JCR’s Rosa, named after notable German Marxist Rosa Luxemborg. The original Rosa was lost in 2005, allegedly stolen by members of Trinity College, but a replacement has since been donated to the college by an unknown benefactor.
Sophie Rees, Tortoise Keeper at Corpus Christi, where the annual race is held, said that it offered a good opportunity for college competition while also raising money for charity.
"The Tortoise Fair is a great institution and one which instils a surprising amount of inter-collegiate competitive spirit, as well as being an effective charity fundraising event. I’m delighted to hear Wadham are getting a tortoise and I hope they’ll come and join in with the other colleges," she said.At the 2007 Fair, Corpus’ sprightly young tortoise Wally claimed victory after racing past Regent’s Park’s 90-year-old veteran Emmanuel. Third place went to the entry from Magdalen, a student wearing a tortoise outfit, who did not manage to eat his entire lettuce.