Magdalen College JCR has passed a motion to spend £2,200 on a Diamond Jubilee Garden Party and to mandate three JCR members to organise the event which will include “cucumber sandwiches, Pimm’s, grilled beef, beer, and ice cream.” The total budget for the party is £2,500, of which £300 will come from battel charges.
Despite the motion passing with a vote of 46 in favour, 17 opposed, and 11 abstaining, some members of the JCR have expressed concern over the royal dimension to the party and the large budget allocated.
Cameron J. Quinn, a member of the Magdalen JCR committee, told Cherwell, “I think the JCR shouldn’t be funding something which amounts to an ideological statement in favour of the monarchy and in terms of JCR budgetary priorities, I think providing £2,200 for what is essentially a piss-up in celebration of class privilege is an obscene sum and a poor idea.”
Hamish Hunter, one of the students responsible for the motion and mandated to organise the party, refuted these claims, stating, “The rarity of the event was raised at the meeting and it was generally thought that it was worth celebrating the landmark in style. There was recognition that the Diamond Jubilee was a very special event and the Magdalen JCR should join the national and college celebrations.”
However, Ryan Kahn, a second year Student Community Warden, criticised the plans and suggested that the Magdalen JCR should “put the funds and their efforts into one of the many street fairs that will spring up in Oxford over the Jubilee weekend, instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money on an exclusive Garden Party that will only benefit themselves.”
One student from Magdalen, who wished to remain anonymous, made the claim that those who proposed the motion “packed out the General Meeting with friends to help it pass”.
He cited the relative ease with which the motion succeeded, despite lengthy debates over budget allocations in the past, and revealed to Cherwell that during the meeting, “rather than accepting an amendment from the JCR President to lower the amount requested to £1,500, [it was] simply proposed that they move to a vote”, resulting in the immediate passing of the motion. He added, “3/5 of the people there left the meeting after the motion passed, leading the independent chair to feel the need to count in order to make sure the meeting was still quorate.”
In response to claims that students sympathetic to the motion had been encouraged to attend the General Meeting, Hunter admitted that the event had had a high turnout and responded, “Many people at Magdalen supported the motion on the basis that it would be a chance for the JCR to come together in a summer celebration with relatively little cost to the attendee (there will be a £2 charge).”
Hunter also defended the allocation of funds, stating, “The question of ‘good use of JCR funds’ was, as you might imagine, robustly discussed at the General Meeting on Sunday. It was thought by many that Magdalen JCR takes part in, and funds, a good deal of charitable projects and that, considering the JCR’s constitutional objective to ‘[provide] recreational and leisure time activities in the interests of their social welfare’, this kind of celebration was appropriate to what the JCR is about.
“It must also be noted that the funding for this garden party is coming out of a fund specifically designated for allocation by the General Meeting.” The fund in question is set at £9,000 per term and has been used in the past to fund an arts magazine and to replace the JCR croquet set.
Ben Hudson, a Classics and English student at Regent’s, called the party “an absolute bargain at £2,200 when you take into account the Royal Family’s cost of about £185 million per year.” He added, “I’m sure the scouts on substandard wages will enjoy clearing up after the sumptuous party to celebrate Elizabeth Windsor’s knack for not dying.
“No doubt great fun will be had by all over the Jubilee holiday and it will all be explained away by the claim that it’s a fair price to pay for all the tourism the Royal Family are bringing in, despite the fact that Buckingham Palace raises almost no money, Windsor Castle isn’t even the biggest tourist attraction in Windsor, and the Tower of London has historical appeal that would only be increased if we beheaded the whole bloody lot of them there.”