Balliol College’s 750th anniversary commemoration ball has been met with concern from JCR members.Issues surrounding ticket costs, white-tie hire, as well as the ball’s ‘opt-out system’ have all caused controversy.
At a JCR meeting last Sunday, Balliol student Will Tummon proposed a motion singling out the “extortionate” requirement for students to wear white-tie, as well as the potential stigma attached to anyone who chose to opt-out .He called for the JCR to endorse a change to the ‘opt-in’ system and to encourage its members to refuse to pay the ticket price of £150 until financial details were clear. He also pressed for the ticket price to be reduced by at least half for JCR members.
The original motion submitted by Tummon was not passed; however, an amended version, proposed by Sam Ellis and Omid Pakseresht, passed without opposition. The amended motion shared concerns about the ball possibly being too expensive for some students and resolved to work with the college’s Welfare and Housing Officers in exploring financial aid options, such as subsidising some tickets. It also pledged the JCR’s full support to the Ball Committee.
Tummon told Cherwell, “The amendment has made some progress in that it should help advertise the existing welfare provisions available to JCR members who might like to attend the ball but can’t for financial reasons.’
However, he continued, “Perhaps the college might consider chipping in rather more for its own birthday party, since it sits upon an endowment of about £64m, and a large proportion of its students are sitting upon a growing pile of debt. Such an act of fairness might best demonstrate the progress our wonderful institution has made, rather than galvanize the idea of Oxford as exclusive.”
Sam Ellis commented, “The original motion gave the JCR a great opportunity to discuss the price of commemoration balls. The main point to address was that members of the JCR might be priced out of the ball.
”Tessa McGuire, President of Balliol Ball, said that the ticket price of £150 was “justified by virtue of the unlimited food, beverages and first class entertainment that will be provided.” One Balliolite disagreed, commenting, “I think £150 is pretty high, especially given that it’s for Balliol’s 750th anniversary.”