Class war has broken out at St Edmund Hall after complaints from students forced the eviction of a pair of non-student guests.
Oxford residents AJ Dolan, 18, and Adam Morrison, 19, were left with nowhere to live after being ejected from their previous accommodation, and were offered lodging by Andrea Young, a first-year Law student, in her room at Teddy Hall.
Last Thursday they were asked to leave after complaints by her fellow undergraduates. Some students said that they felt intimidated by the presence of the Oxford locals, claiming they shouted and, allegedly, spat at them. The pair deny this.
Young does not believe that the students had any reason to complain. The College could not confirm who had filed the complaint . Young has said that she believes that it was made by two public school students who she feels intended to provoke conflict.
Young said, “There have always been underlying [social] tensions, to be honest with you, and this is basically what has brought this to the surface. There are people, definitely not everyone, who keep to their specific friend groups and give short answers when friendly efforts were made to approach them.”
Young defended her friends and her decision to let them stay with her. She said, “I think this is the whole point, in that the intimidation towards them was completely unfounded. It was not like they were walking around in college. They stayed in my room most of the time. If college students saw random people walking around in college, then I would understand the fear but that most certainly was not the case.” Dolan stayed a total of two weeks and Morrison for five days.
Dolan said he felt that his and Morrison’s eviction was purely an act of prejudice by certain “posh” students against those of “the lower class.”
“We would walk into hall and we could feel all eyes on us, because of they way we dress and the way we talk,” he said.
But he added that, despite initially feeling intimidated, he found that he got on well with most of the students who made the effort to talk to him.
“The people who did make the effort to get to know me were really cool,” he said. “It’s just those who refused to even talk to me that were instantly prejudiced against me for being poor. A couple of times I would try to say hi to people and they wouldn’t say it back.”
Dolan and Morrison said they felt that, overall, students seemed “very spoilt.” Dolan said, “They [Oxford students] have no idea. No idea what life is like at all. They absolutely get everything handed to them on a plate and they don’t have to do anything. All they have to do is study.”
“Basically, they don’t understand what hard life is. They don’t know what it’s like to be homeless, to not have money, and to sleep on the streets,” said Morrison.
Some Teddy Hall students were very accepting of the pair. “They were really chilled and easy to talk to,” said Jane Rudderham, a good friend and neighbour of Andrea.
But Katie Inzani, a Teddy Hall first year reading Material Science, said that she did not expect the incident to change Oxford’s class-oriented culture. “This simply validated such a culture existing,” she said.
Anthony Boutall, a student who lives one floor below Young, said, “While the College law must be upheld, there is no need to make classist stereotypes on either side, or to subscribe to a heinous hypocrisy which allows some to act in certain ways but forbids others from doing so on the basis of social background. In truth, AJ and Adam were less intimidating to the majority of Teddy Hall students than others who choose to get blind drunk, play loud music, and cause general disgruntlement within college.”
But he added, “I am certainly not a class warrior, and if the College has said that it is in breach of the rules to have semi-permanent occupants of other peoples’ rooms, then that must be respected.”
Dolan has temporarily moved to his mother’s home in south Oxford until he finds his own place to live.by Sangwon Yoon, Reporter