St Catherine’s College has provisionally agreed to allow the JCR to be financially autonomous after a financial committee meeting on Tuesday.
Whilst St Catz JCR has recently resolved to change the constitution to allow for its independence, up until Tuesday the College had retained control over JCR finances.
The JCR has a funding system whereby students pay a levy through their battels, which includes money for both the JCR budget and for clubs and societies. However, the College had previously not agreed to allow the JCR full control over this budget up until the provisional agreement on Tuesday.
Without this financial independence, the JCR finances would have been organised using the current arrangements of the clubs and societies system. Under this system, students who are members of a club or society foot the bill of any society expenses themselves, and the College later reimburses them.
Some students have seen this as problematic because expenses can reach several hundred pounds and the College can take up to a month or longer to pay students the money.
St Catz JCR passed a contract in a motion on the 30th of May detailing the steps that it aimed to take towards financial independence. This has now been approved by the College.
The contract included an agreement over a period of consultation and discussion for the JCR to engage with the College in formulating a plan to implement the decision of independence.
The contract lays out several practical matters that need to be seen to before financial independence is fully put into practice.
The JCR noted that before independence could occur, College would have to update its internal governance policies. It also noted that any path to financial independence would have to include appropriate amendments to the College’s constitutional and regulatory arrangements regarding JCR matters.
Part of the contract also aimed to settle an agreed package of measures to restore the College’s confidence in the JCR’s financial autonomy.
These include certain regulations regarding the arrangements surrounding the JCR debit card, the role of the Treasurer and of college oversight. The contract has been provisionally accepted “with some tweaks”.
During this period of consultation, the JCR will be aided by several other colleges who have agreed to provide interest-free loans so that the JCR Committee can continue offering its usual services.
JCR Treasurer Saleem Akhtar told Cherwell, “A lot of progress has been made with regards to the financial situation at Catz. Discussions have been had between the JCR Executive Committee and members of the Finance Committee (FC) for the College and these have concluded with a joint proposal (agreed upon by the Exec and select members of the FC) being brought to the FC. We were given five minutes to present our proposal and were asked questions on some of the intricacies of it.
“We have since heard that, with a few tweaks, the FC will agreed to recommend our proposal to the College. The proposal, should it be accepted, will reinstitute our financial autonomy and will increase oversight from the College’s point of view of the JCR’s Finances. The proposal was contingent on the JCR agreeing to have a minimum discussion period (in the order of months) before we can codify our legal independence into our constitution. It will be a great day for student activism should the proposal be accepted, and we’re hopeful that it will be.”
St Catherine’s College did not respond to Cherwell’s request for comment.