Madeline Grant, an English student at St Hilda’s College, was found guilty of bringing the Oxford Union into disrepute with her election manifesto at a disciplinary hearing at the Union on Wednesday. Her draft manifesto for the position of Librarian declared, “I don’t hack, I just have a great rack”. It was later altered to “I’m no hack; I’m just here for the craic”.
Sam Heitlinger, St Anne’s student and frequent Union visitor, called the disciplinary hearing “absurd”, stating, “Maddy’s manifesto was clearly meant to be taken with a pinch of salt. The Union has been crying out for someone who is willing to poke fun at it; she is a breath of fresh air. It seems to me that the reaction to her campaign is symptomatic of the Union’s tendency to take itself far too seriously.
“The powers that be ought to be applauding someone who is prepared to ridicule the Society’s embarrassingly dull ‘manifestos’. Anyone who knows Maddy would understand that she is not sexist and her manifesto was obviously a joke.”
Henry Tonks, a first year historian at Corpus Christi College, told Cherwell that he was not surprised about the disciplinary hearing, but added, “I equally don’t think they should be doing so. It’s another case of the Union taking itself a bit too seriously really – the campaign/manifesto was clearly done in a spirit of fun.”
Grant herself told the Daily Telegraph, “It’s ridiculous. At great expense they are paying for former Union officials to come to Oxford and sit on the committee which will decide my fate. I’m wondering if I should leave the Union. The main speakers they have lined up are Geri Halliwell and Nelly Furtado, so I wouldn’t miss much.”
Isabel Ernst, President of the Oxford Union, released an official statement, saying, “Madeline Grant breached the Union rules by speaking to the press without written permission from the President. It is the President’s and Standing Committee’s task to make sure the rules are upheld, and the President is thus obliged to bring action against her.
“The disciplinary hearing will only consist of ex-Officers who are still in Oxford, so will be at no cost to the Union or Union members.”
On Thursday, the Oxford Union Press Office confirmed the result of the hearing. Its statement read, “Following Madeline Grant’s disciplinary hearing last night, we can confirm that she was found guilty and fined 120GBP overall. The panel has now adjourned to investigate potential evidence that arose during the hearing with regard to a administrative procedure.
“However the panel has not decided yet who will be called back and we cannot confirm that anyone in specific is under investigation for the time being.”