A termly meeting in which junior deans are encouraged to “exchange war stories” has been condemned by welfare staff as “entirely inappropriate”.
The junior deans’ dinners, which began in Hilary 2013, are termly social events for deans to meet. Concerns have been raised after the email organising the Michaelmas meal described the event as “a time and space for junior deans to come together to confidentially compare experiences” and “trade war stories.” It continues, “Most importantly, this is done over a relaxed dinner and a fair few drinks.” The email was sent to all junior deans in the University.
A room was booked for the event to ensure “we have the privacy we’d need to discuss College issues.”
One anonymous dean, who revealed the event to Cherwell, condemned the events. “My opinion is that organising a social event around which to discuss these cases is entirely inappropriate. There is already a very well thought-out system in place by the University Counselling Service which offers a forum to discuss issues presented by junior deans in an official, secure and confidential environment.
“What seems to be lacking in this case is the understanding that colleges are small environments: maintaining confidentiality isn’t just about the withdrawal of names, it is about the withdrawal of information that could lead to the identification of the person or persons from the divulgence of information.”
They continue to describe the event as “wholly inappropriate”. They said, Junior Deans “who are often entrusted with information of a sensitive nature”, should not be prepared to “to divulge this information ad libitum to peers outside of a formal structured setting.”
They went on, “I hope that university takes a strong approach to these ‘social’ events and recognises the potential for the breaches of confidentiality which may occur.”
The dinner is being held on the Tuesday 3rd December, and follows on from a drinks event at the St Aldates Tavern at 8pm on Wednesday 19th June.
The University, and the organisers of the event, did not respond to Cherwell’s request for a comment.