Corpus Christi students returned from the Christmas vac to be told that their sports grounds will close from Easter. Whilst the site, shared with Pembroke, has been described by a current student as remote but providing for many years some of the best playing surfaces in the university the College has decided that a ground share with University College is the most viable option for the future.
That Corpus’ governing body apparently made their decision without any consultation with the JCR executive seems to have particularly angered students and alumni alike. A petition has been started with articles posted online, resulting in one student being ‘deaned’ for encouraging protests.
The College has justified their decision for a number of reasons. They felt that, although the ‘MBI Al Jaber Building’, a new drama and music centre, was only recently completed, it was necessary on financial grounds to close the facility and make redundant the groundsman, Mike Clifton. Furthermore the authorities were concerned that the site neither provided suitable ambulance access in case of an emergency nor adequate drainage in poor weather conditions. Both arguments have been criticised because Pembroke are continuing to use the site. That the decision will come into effect in March, giving sports teams only a short period of time to make other arrangements and Mr. Clifton two months to find new employment and housing seems to have only compounded the indignation.
The longer term consequences have also caused concern amongst the Corpus Christi student community. It could not only mean the loss of Corpus’ sporting independence and flexibility due to the need to ground-share with Univ, but there was speculation amongst the student body that it may lead to the end of the long-standing alliance with Linacre in college competitions. With Univ having over two hundred more students than Corpus the fear that an alternative alliance with Univ could dent Corpus sporting spirit was also raised.
It remains to be seen whether the College decides to reassess their decision, but at the present time this seems unlikely.