A controversial motion to ban all political and religious door-to-door canvassing at St Edmund Hall was passed at a meeting of the college’s JCR in Eighth Week.
A friendly amendment to the motion extended the ban to all door-to-door canvassing, with particular reference to environmental issues. A further friendly amendment proposed that this new stance should be formally added to the college’s official rule book.
Rosie Shann, who proposed the motion, claimed she was dismayed by students being bothered in their rooms by door-to-door canvassers. “These practices put [students] on the spot,” she said, “and whilst it is all very well to say that students can just ask canvassers to go away, this doesn’t always happen.”
However, the ban has angered other members of the JCR, who have claimed that the motion targeted specific members of the college community, including the Christian Union.
Mark Mills, a first year historian at Teddy Hall who has now been named Lib Dem councillor for the Holywell ward, expressed his displeasure at the restrictions on canvassing within his college: “People do not canvass for malicious reasons, it causes no great harm and has many benefits. It allows societies to communicate with a broader section of the college community than they would otherwise be able to.”
Environment and Ethics officer Daniel Lowe criticised the circumstances in which the motion was passed, branding it a “nothing motion” and calling the process “farcical.” According to Lowe, no agendas were sent out informing college members of the proposed motion, and the JCR meeting was held with a football match on the television in the background, which distracted those present from the debate around the motion.
JCR president Charlie Southern, however, played down concerns around the motion, claiming that it was “not a pressing issue, but if the JCR wants it dealt with it shall be.”