Keble College JCR has narrowly voted in opposition to the College’s provisional decision to burn a boat on its front quad ahead of Summer VIIIs, in a non-binding vote.
The College’s Governing Body had voted last week to allow the Keble College Boat Club to burn an old boat in the centre of the College’s Liddon quad if the men’s first crew (M1) or women’s first crew (W1) finish Head of the River next week.
Members of the JCR were presented with four options in an emergency motion at a JCR meeting on Tuesday. JCR members were asked whether they supported the burning of the boat, a celebration of the boat not based around burning, a rejection of the burning altogether, or abstention.
50 students voted to reject burning the boat altogether, with 73 choosing to celebrate the boat without burning it. There were 120 votes in favour of burning the boat and four abstentions, leaving a narrow majority of three votes in opposition to the Boat Club proposal.
Given a summer Entz ban in force at Keble, it was also highlighted in the JCR meeting that that there would be no good reason for allowing the boat-burning whilst rejecting, for example, a Welfare Barbecue, which was suggested last year.
One Keble JCR member, who did not wish to be named, told Cherwell:
“It says something about Keble that we sent this motion to debate. We are not afraid to question even the most traditional of traditions. The debate that we had was well-mannered, mature, and ultimately helpful for the whole college I think.
“Everyone here supports the Boat Club and will be very proud if they gain headship but we also want to ensure that Keble’s values of progressiveness and modernisation are represented in everything that we do.”
Keble MCR, which was polled on the question on Sunday, voted 21-18 against burning the boat. Both the JCR and the MCR motions were wholly advisory, with no power to mandate the Boat Club.
College members present at both meetings also criticised an Instagram page, keble4head, which featured a meme that students took to be “sexist and misogynistic”. The Boat Club denied a connection to the page and the particular post has been removed. Following the decision, a member of Keble teaching staff who had been due to go on sabattical in a few weeks resigned early from his positions as the Garden Master and Chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Sven Jaeschke, the men’s captain of the Boat Club, said: “The grass won’t be touched and we would use fire retardant blankets to further protect it.
“The old wooden boat that we intend to burn, however, hasn’t been used for over 40 years and is of almost no value anymore”
The Governing Body voted in favour of burning the boat 12-9 with three abstentions, with JCR and MCR representatives not allowed to vote.
Keble College Boat Club and Keble College JCR have been contacted for comment.