Oriel College has voted against a motion to donate £100 towards bringing DarkMatter, a trans South Asian performance art duo, to Oxford as part of their tour.
The motion was one of three proposed at an open meeting last Sunday to request the release of more than £75 from the JCR budget, and as such had to be voted on by an online poll. The motion was defeated with 86 votes against, and 16 votes for.
The motion’s defeat by such a wide margin caused disappointment and anger amongst some Oriel students. Speaking about why he believes the motion was defeated, the proposer of the motion, who wished to remain anonymous, told Cherwell, “The reasons people have given are that they did not have enough information about where exactly the money was going, that there were three simultaneous requests for money from the JCR and people started worrying about the budget (an unfounded worry, since it is my understanding that we are currently well under budget for the year), and that people did not feel it was relevant to them.
“My suspicion is that it was largely the latter, which may seem an innocuous enough reason at first glance, but the fact is that the minorities to whom this would be relevant (queer/trans people and people of colour) are those whose voices are disproportionately overlooked at Oxford and in the wider world.
“It would seem petty, for example, if I were to refuse money to an event primarily for the benefit of Chemists simply because it’s not relevant to me as an Modern Languages student, but it’s so much worse than mere pettiness when oppressed minorities are denied the funding to access things that are central to their liberation; regardless of intention, it can end up feeling like an attack on our right to be here.
“It is interesting to me that Oriel is the only college so far to have turned down the motion, and especially by such a high margin. This is the main reason why I felt let down by the JCR’s decision, because – whether or not this actually is the case – it implies that there is something different about how Oriel viewed the matter, since they were given word-for-word the same motion as the other colleges.”
Kit Owens, Oriel’s JCR President, explained to Cherwell, “I will not presume to know the reasons why JCR members who took part in the poll voted the way they did but being present in the meeting, there was definite concern from some members over the vagueness of the motion. I would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm Oriel JCR’s commitment to LGBTQ liberation. We successfully campaigned to fly the Pride flag from the college flagpole and have given at least £119 to LGBTQ causes in the past academic year, supporting Oxford Pride and the work of our LGBTQ Rep.”
WomCam Officer Aliya Yule told Cherwell, “It’s very disappointing that Oriel has voted not to support DarkMatter coming to Oxford. It’s rare that we get an opportunity to give a platform at our University to voices that are constantly side-lined in our curriculum, and in society.”