Corpus JCR has passed a motion of condemnation against unidentified students who tore down LGBTQ pride flags in the college on Saturday evening.
The incident provoked outrage within the Corpus community, especially among its LGBTQ members. Jem Jones, Equal Opportunities Officer, told Cherwell, “As a JCR and a community, we were shocked and angered by these events. That this would happen in Corpus, and in LGBT history month, honestly beggars belief. Whilst the perpetrators may not have any experience of being in a minority group, their opinions are clearly and thankfully in the minority in our JCR.”
An article in The Oxford Student stated, “The Abbotts [sic]… [were] accused of ‘offensive’ and ‘unacceptable’ behaviour after removing the flags”. However, Cherwell understands that there is as yet no sufficient evidence to condemn the all-male drinking society, The Abbots, and that the motion resolved to “condemn the individual(s) who removed the pride flags”, without speculating as to who this might be.
There was an Abbots event being held on the night in question, but it is unclear whether the event was still going on, or whether any members of the drinking society were in college at the time that the flags were defaced.
The defacing of the flags has also provoked a reaction from the wider LGBTQ community. Otamere Guobadia, President of Oxford University’s LGBTQ society, condemned the perpetrators, commenting, “Some belligerent wanker has actively decided to make a mockery of the attempts of a marginalised group to resist their oppression and celebrate the very difference that makes them targets of this kind of bullshit every day.
“I have no idea the extent of the society’s involvement in this stupidity, but frankly the patriarchal, overprivileged groups like these do tend to breed narrow-mindedness.”
The emergency motion, which was passed by a large majority in Sunday’s JCR meeting, also dedicated £75 for the purchase of new flags, as well as ring-fencing a third of Corpus’ annual charity budget for LGBTQ causes.
Many members of the college have praised the motion, and the general reaction of the Corpus community, as a highly positive step to ensure the safety and comfort of its LGBTQ students.
Speaking to Cherwell, Luke Mintz, Corpus’ LGBTQ rep, said, “The actions of this group were unacceptable and potentially very offensive to LGBTQ students. I am glad that Corpus JCR has sent out a strong message of solidarity with its LGBTQ community. I am currently working with our excellent Equal Opportunities Officer to get more pride flags around College during LGBTQ History Month.”
Sandy Downs, Corpus student and Secretary of Oxford University LGBTQ Society, was also very happy with the response of the JCR. She commented, “The queer culture here [at Corpus] is really special. The actions from last Saturday were unusual, and the response of giving £1,000 of our charity levy to an LGBTQ charity and a commitment to display more LGBTQ flags is great.”
Bethany Currie, JCR President, also emphasised that the College will continue to strive to be as LGBTQ-inclusive as possible. She commented, “What happened on Saturday has only stiffened our resolve to work even harder to make Corpus the place that its students believe and want it to be.”