Christ Church JCR this week debated a motion at a General Meeting to abolish the role of Ethnic and Religious Minorities (ERM) rep from its committee. The motion was rejected by the JCR with only eight votes in favour, 15 against. Many students chose to abstain.
The ERM role was created last academic year, having previously been rejected in Trinity 2014. The position has been a source of uncertainty since, with the position having been filled since Trinity last year by student Titus Badawi-Crook, whose official stance in the JCR elections had been opposition to the role’s existence and a pledge to do nothing with it.
The motion, which was proposed by second-year classicist Sebastian Hyams, stated that the JCR notes that Badawi-Crook “campaigned with the view that the role needed to be abolished. The JCR expressed, through the democratic process, its endorsement of those views. In complete contradiction to the expressed views of the JCR (GM HT 15), it has been advertised that an ERM [Rep] will be [elected] this term.”
In Trinity last year, a question in a Christ Church JCR survey about all aspects of student life, which asked whether there should continue to be an ERM rep, found that 54 per cent of self-identifying BME students were opposed to having an ERM rep.
One Christ Church JCR member told Cherwell, “To achieve our shared aim of reducing, indeed, quashing any racism in Oxford, it is my view that a traditional ‘rep’ is not the most efficient way to achieve this, and that it is crucial that attention be focused on initiatives like access to ensure that more minorities apply to Oxford; this issue is, lamentably, more pressing in colleges with unfavourable reputations like Christ Church.”
Discussing the motion’s failure, Hyams commented, “The JCR’s 2015 survey made clear that a majority of people in college who identify as an ethnic or religious minority were opposed to an ERM Rep for various reasons. Further, the current rep was elected on a mandate that he would be nothing but a placeholder.”
JCR President Luke Cave and the outgoing ERM rep both declined Cherwell’s request for comment.