A motion by St John’s College to give JCR reps an advantage in the housing ballot has been defeated after arousing strong opposition from the college.
St John’s JCR President Jason Keen proposed that JCR Reps who serve for two terms or more should be given priority in the room lottery. The president and secretary are already automatically placed at the top of the ballot.
Keen argued, “reps carry out duties crucial to the smooth running of our JCR, but many people don’t know the positions even exist and consequently they are often difficult to fill.”
He added that housing priority was “a means of revitalising the reps system.”
Ollie Willmott opposed the motion, calling it “grossly unfair.” He set up a Facebook group asking for “just a simple vote of NO.”
He argued, “we all contribute to college life in our own ways. We don’t all do this in order to gain a direct reward. Indeed, most people don’t need a reward to do something they feel is worthwhile.”
Rep positions at St John’s include “Charties Pimp” and “PRAT” alongside more well known ones such as “rag rep” and “ethnic minorities rep.”
Amin Hamzianpour also opposed, describing the proposed changes as “completely unfair.” He also noted, “reps don’t make an important contribution to the college.”
Other John’s students have supported Keen’s motion. One commented, “some rep positions have beem really hard to fill in the past and there is a need for an incentive.
“For example, the post of Academic facilities rep is difficult to fill year on year as it involves the time-consuming task of checking that all printers in college are equipped with paper and ink.”
Students agreed that the opportunity to obtain a better room would be a motivation. St John’s second year Amin Hamzianpour argued, “while you don’t have to do much to be a rep, getting one of the best rooms is like winning the lottery. The best rooms have showers, kitchens and other rooms attached to them.”
The proposed system was for Exec members to have points subtracted from their room ballot prior to the randomisation of the ballot. This would increase their likelihood of being allocated a good room in the third year as those with lower points are drawn first.
Engineer Malcolm Begg suggested “it could have a massive difference. Having two points taken off for being a rep could move you up twenty to thirty places.”
He supported the changes arguing, “it’s a good principle because it doesn’t cost the JCR anything. This is why accommodation benefits are a better idea than a meal.” The estimated cost per head at the annual JCR committee meal is £40.
Jason Keen denied that students would take up rep positions just for rooms, “I think people’s motivation is secondary compared to if they properly devote their time to duties that benefit their fellow JCR members.”
He added, “by putting rewards in place we would be able to expect more from our reps, rather than the current system where they have no incentive to do their jobs whatsoever.”
Willmott refuted this saying, “I have never known a rep to be fired for doing a bad job and in any case, as suggested, most require minimal effort.”
A representative for the St John’s accommodation office said, “the JCR and MCR ballot procedures are chosen by them.”