Corpus Christi JCR has passed a motion to begin discussions with their Dean regarding the use of fines as a form of punishment for disciplinary offences.
The motion, unanimously passed on Sunday, mandates that JCR officers must now create a survey of alternative punishments which could be introduced alongside the existing minimum £50 fine incurred by students for bad behaviour.
Zereena Arshad, the JCR’s Access and Admissions Officer, who proposed the motion, told Cherwell: “The point of the motion was to show College that we would like to raise concerns with the way fines are issued as a form of punishment—as for some students, especially working class students, it is not financially viable to pay a fi ne for drunken mistakes or occasional errors in judgement.
“However, we completely understand that sometimes fines are unavoidable because of a waste of resources, for example, when the fi re brigade is called out.”
Jack Beadsworth, Corpus’ Socioeconomic Liberation Officer who seconded the motion, said: “The introduction of ‘community service’ alongside the usual fines is an important reform in student discipline.
“In many cases, fines will be completely inappropriate, and the punishment will not accurately reflect the misdemeanour. Fines, which can be upwards of £50, may also create further injustice if imposed on poorer, low income students for whom £50 is a lot of money—they will affect their ability to get through the term in a stable financial position.
Mr. Beadsworth added: “Where there has been a more minor misdemeanour, a punishment of community service, e.g. cleaning up after a bop, will not only be appropriate in terms of accurately reflecting the offence, but will also be much fairer on low income students.”
The motion follows a wider debate about financial penalties at Oxford colleges.
A 2017 Cherwell investigation found that fining is common at many colleges.
Some fining their student bodies upwards of £10,000 in the academic years 2011-14.
Of over 200 respondents, 31 percent had been fined at some point during their degree.
Despite the popularity of the motion within the College, not all Oxford students feel that such a shift away from financial penalties is necessary.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, commented: “This is just yet another example of people dodging their responsibilities. If you can’t pay the fi ne, don’t do the crime!”
Another student added: “Restricting fines only to those who can afford it defeats the idea of a punishment—a punishment should be inconvenient to the perpetrator, to deter reoffending.
“At best, a punishment should also be of benefit to the community—community service satisfies both.”
Corpus JCR are expected to meet to discuss alternatives to fines this week.
The Dean of Corpus Christi has been contacted for comment.