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Proposals in Exeter and Pembroke to appoint BME Officers

Exeter and Pembroke are a step closer to appointing JCR Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) representatives after JCR meetings held last weekend.

Exeter JCR passed a motion last Sunday proposing that BME drinks be held to gauge interest in creating a BME Representative, and to create such a position if there was sufficient demand. Charanpreet Khaira, a second year English student, proposed the motion.

Speaking after the meeting, Khaira told Cherwell, “There is a very obvious minority of students of colour amongst Oxford undergraduates, and I think that it’s important for colleges to show that they are aware of this and would like to change it by having a BME rep.”

Pembroke JCR also passed a motion to appoint a Racial and Ethnic Minorities Representative. The role would include liaising with OUSU representatives, as well as working in collaboration with the JCR LGBTQ, Gender Equality, and Disabilities representatives. As a constitutional motion, the matter has to be voted on again at the next JCR meeting before it can be enacted.

Anna Simpson, who proposed the motion, told Cherwell, “We believe that liberation and representation are essential components of every society and that JCR bodies should reflect that. The Pembroke motion mirrors our commitment to promoting these values throughout our undergraduate community, by making sure that everybody feels they have a voice that is listened to in college.

“The motion has already passed the first stage of voting and was met by overwhelming support from our students, proving that Pembroke remains an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone to live and study in.”

The actions of Exeter and Pembroke JCRs are part of a University-wide effort to appoint BME representatives, encouraged by Nikhil Venkatesh, OUSU’s BME Officer. Speaking to Cherwell, Venkatesh said, “It was a pledge in my manifesto that I would do my utmost to ensure that all common rooms had properly resourced BME Officers of their own, and it is fantastic to see people across Oxford introducing these roles in their colleges.

“BME Officers can be an important voice to represent an often overlooked minority at Oxford, and also provide support to BME students who experience the problems of racism. Each common room will want to go about the process of introducing a BME Officer in a slightly different way, and anyone who wants advice and help in doing so should get in touch with me.”

According to OUSU, 12 JCRs and one MCR have official BME representatives. Jesus JCR President, Jessica Parker-Humphreys, told Cherwell, “As a college, we feel that the significance of having a BME rep is to demonstrate that marginalised voices should be and will be heard and listened to. It’s essential that these voices have platforms whereby they can voice concerns or share ideas that could improve BME students’ time in Oxford.

“I think that BME reps have a particularly vital role to play with regards to access, due to the fact that Oxford’s student body is overwhelmingly white.”

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