Jesus College has begun charging student groups for the use of its rooms. Both OUSU and Jesus JCR were asked to pay for access to the newly constructed Ship Street Lecture Theatre, despite it not having been booked by any other organisation.
Last week, it was discovered that Jesus JCR’s ‘Everyday Sexism’ talk with Laura Bates was oversubscribed, and a larger room was needed. After negotiation, the Ship Street Lecture Theatre was hired by the JCR at a discounted rate of £100. Similarly, the OUSU Hilary term council was requested to be held there, but College authorities quoted room rental at an undiscounted rate of £300, which OUSU declined to pay.
Jesus JCR President Tom Rogers said “Although college does give us access to most of the meeting rooms for free, it’s a shame that students are being effectively denied the use of one of the best parts of their college, and being charged large sums of money for seemingly very little reason.”
“At the end of the day, students are being treated like just another customer in the conference trade.” Rogers continued “It seems pointless to leave a great venue empty when students want to use it for worthwhile events that show off the best of Jesus College.”
OUSU Academic Affairs Officer David Messling, told Cherwell that “most colleges will allow OUSU Council, for instance, to be held for free, given that all their students are OUSU members.”
OUSU president-elect Tom Rutland commented “Colleges should be welcoming student engagement with groups like ‘Everyday Sexism’ and involvement in their Student Union, not charging them to host these events. When new facilities are built off the back of donations from alumni and sold as ‘great for students’ it’s disappointing that in some colleges, students rarely get a chance to use them.”
He continued “If the rooms aren’t being used for something else at the time, it seems extremely unfair to charge the student body to use them. Jesus College prides itself on its commitment to equality and diversity, so to charge the JCR for an equalities event’s move simply because it was so popular is pretty disappointing.”
Jesus College declined to comment.