Teddy Hall JCR have rejected attempts by a potential JCR presidential candidate to overturn restrictions on election canvassing.
A second year student intending to run for JCR president this year, proposed a motion to allow students running in elections to promote themselves in any way they choose.
Opposition focused on the issue of money, as it was widely believed that the candidate intended to sponsor the Teddy Hall football team, placing a picture of himself on the front of their kit.
During the JCR meeting, he spoke about the hypothetical possibility of doing so, although he did not explicitly announce a specific plan. It was clarified that Steel could sponsor the team if he wished, but would not be allowed to promote any campaign in doing so under current rules.
Present restrictions allow presidential candidates to put up seven manifesto posters and perform their hustings speech. By removing these restrictions candidates would be able to produce as many posters as they liked, create facebook groups and canvass door-to-door. Teddy Hall JCR passed a motion banning door-to-door canvassing last year.
The proposer argued that the removal of restrictions would provide more information to those voting, resulting in a better-informed electorate. This would hopefully end apathy in the JCR elections.
The motion failed with 40 votes against, 15 in favour and 11 abstained. The motion needed two thirds of all present to be in favour to pass.
It was also highlighted that the current system encourages freshers to run, maintains an equal footing for all students and prevents presidential elections from being a popularity contest.
Charles Wilson, Teddy Hall’s JCR secretary voted against the motion. He commented, “This motion would have led to skewed elections, discouraging those on uncertain financial footing from running, possibly preventing well qualified candidates from gaining office. I think the JCR saw this as fundamentally unfair, as well as detrimental in the long run, and overwhelmingly voted it down.”
Those supporting the motion highlighted that students are likely to see through those throwing money ar
ound, with the proposer emphasizing the need to make it more like real world elections.
He noted, “money’s central to getting your message out – look at the New York mayoral election and Bloomberg’s campaign. The US is the heart of democracy so I can’t see why it can’t happen in Oxford.”
One student also observed in the debate that in a recession the economy needs all the help it can get, encouraging students to support the motion. One first year added, “I was all for it personally, I though he spoke with eloquence and dignity, but was shot down by a number of narrow minded people.”
Charlotte Seymour, JCR President commented, “There was a little victory for common sense in the Teddy Hall JCR this weekend.”