The Queen’s College student body has elected a teddy bear as their new JCR President in Monday’s elections.
‘Clumsy Teddy’ was backed by Nathan Roberts, the ex-JCR President, who husted on his behalf.
Elected in Trinity term last year, Roberts was stripped of his position over the vacation after achieving a 2:2 in Prelims. Stefan Baskerville, OUSU President, 30 JCR Presidents and a number of Queen’s students protested against this decision by the college authorities, claiming they should not have a right to impose on the democratic elections of the JCR.
Roberts was then refused an appeal against the decision. In the re-election, he put forward the mascot and campaigned on his behalf. It is estimated that the turnout for the election was over 200, higher than in Roberts’ first election.Teddy won with 50.3% of first-preference votes. There were two opposing candidates, who managed to amass 37.5% of the votes between them, while 10% of voters wanted to reopen nominations.
Roberts claimed that there were two reasons for the teddy’s electoral success. “The first is that he and his supporting team presented a strong vision for the JCR, which seemed to chime with its members. It was in many ways an election like any other, with competing ideas on what we should work towards in the coming year, which Teddy won.
“The second is that we want College to know that we’re not happy. At a meeting at the start of term the JCR voted no-confidence in the actions taken by College, but also resolved to accept the decision of the Governing Body, in the event of an appeal. But in refusing the appeal, I believe that the Provost failed to make the best decision for the members of his College, by both undermining our position and setting a very dangerous precedent.
“Teddy isn’t here to ruin relations with our college. His team and the exec still plan to work hard and communicate with senior members. But in voting Teddy we have made it clear that we won’t allow anyone to dictate the make-up of our Executive other than through our own electoral processes, and hope it will not happen again.”
Portia Roelofs, a student at Queen’s, hit back at college authorities. “It’s a shame that College have dealt with the issue so wrong-headedly, and I’m concerned that in future other students will suffer from a system where appeal of disciplinary decisions has been blanketly ruled out. Interestingly, non-members now have right that members of Queen’s don’t have, as it has become clear that you are only able to appeal a decision of TRC once you’ve been expelled. Which seems a bit bizarre.”
Roberts is certain that Teddy will be a successful President. “Despite his quiet nature, Teddy is still going to work hard on behalf of the JCR through a host of translators and exec representatives. We expect the coming year to be extremely productive for the undergraduate body at Queen’s.”
Roelofs agrees with this view. “I am very pleased at Clumsy Teddy’s success and look forward to a bright future. He has the experience and the policies to improve the overall student experience at Queen’s, for everyone. I voted for the best candidate for President in the elections at the end of Trinity term and voted for Teddy in these elections to show that I didn’t think that the intervention of the SCR during the summer vac was fair, justified or legitimate. I am profoundly proud to be a member of the JCR in light of this action.”
Roberts hopes this will be the end of the saga. “We’ve established our position on the presidency, but it’s now time to move on and ensure that all the Queen’s common rooms work together with the best interests of the college at the heart of the agenda.”
John McElroy, Somerville JCR President who backed Roberts two weeks ago commented, “it’ll be interesting to see the response from Queen’s SCR. They can’t really ignore this – imagine the Governing Body meeting when Teddy turns up to represent the students!”
Not all Queen’s students were backing Roberts and Teddy. Ben Cahill, commented, “It’s an incredibly petulant move which has been orchestrated and allowed by self-important hacks.”
He added, “College has done nothing wrong, and the scare tactics employed by Nathan in his Teddy Bear election material..needlesly, deliberately and irresponsibly obscure the facts. The whole thing is a joke.”
A representative of the college declined to comment, stating that this was a matter for the JCR and the academic department.