Balliol U-turn

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1722

Balliol College has temporarily reversed the decision to introduce a controversial ‘domus charge’ to all students, meaning that no incoming freshers will be affected.
The decision to put the charge on hold, pending a review at the end of this term, was taken in the final weeks of Michaelmas term.
In a meeting with the College executive, Balliol JCR and MCR presented a joint document detailing potential flaws of the domus plan, which would have seen a blanket charge of up to £500 imposed on all students.
Students proposed alternatives to the charge and in response Balliol officials agreed to reconsider the levy.
JCR President Stephen Dempsey told Cherwell that possible alternatives include “changing the system we currently use with domestic staff, revitalising our Hall, looking into managing Balliol’s off-site accommodation to improve efficiency and, although not yet approved or fully investigated, maybe even finding ways of utlising our extensive archives to make up the deficit.”

The news comes despite College Master Andrew Graham claim in an email to students dated November last year that, “The simple reason we have turned to a student charges is that we have already done everything else,” and that, “if Balliol is to remain one of the best educational institutions in the world, the funding has to come from somewhere”.
One Balliol student, Chris Gross, was quick to point out that the domus charge is far from being forgotten altogether. He said, “While this is a very positive step forward, and a testimony to the ability of students to mobilise quickly and effectively, it’s not the end of the fight and students need to maintain the pressure on the college to find other ways to make up for their financial mess.
“This is an issue that affects other JCRs, and hopefully our limited victory here can be the start of a university-wide push against unfair and possibly illegal charges on students.”
Meanwhile other students are more positive about Balliol’s future. JCR Secretary David Bagg commented, “I believe that the JCR, MCR and College all have the best interests of students at heart, and any forthcoming proposal will be well-considered and fair.”
Dempsey said the decision was “not a victory for the students of Balliol alone but one for the whole college, helping us to get through a difficult financial time without endangering the qualities that make Balliol such an outstanding college in the first place. We are delighted that the College has taken this opportunity to work with the student body on an issue which is so important to all of us.”

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