Oriel’s barman has been removed by the college, provoking an outcry from the student body, writes Andrea Televantos.Chris Howells, whose contract was ended last week, said that he had a “professional conflict” with the college steward, and his dismissal had been described as an attempt to “stop fun” by students.Mr Howells was employed on the terms of what he described as a “probationary contract”, and said that the official reason for his removal was that the college “chose not to extend it”.Students have claimed that the college terminated Howell’s employment because he was seen to be too lenient towards students. “They were looking for an excuse to get rid of him,” said one student who wished to remain anonymous, “they were being unreasonable. They’re basically trying to stop fun.”According to student Nick Jones, Howells also attracted blame for the mess left behind after a college bop. “ENTZ didn’t organise it [the bop] well enough”, Jones said, “it was nothing to do with him.”Oriel students allege that the source of friction was the college steward, Jean Medd, who is responsible for the bar staff. She is said to have argued with Howell over him not taking sufficient measures to control student behaviour in the college bar. Mr Howells commented that there was a “certain professional conflict” between him and Medd and in addition a “mutual dislike”.Medd’s policies regarding the student bar have aroused student anger before when she banned staff and students from drinking together in 2004, breaking, in the words of one porter, “a long tradition of porters drinking with students.” According to the porter, she gave “no reason” for doing so, despite pressure from the JCR and staff.
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