Changes to Christ Church college’s dining policies have led to anger from students, with dissatisfaction at the changes leading some to an attempt a boycott of hall.
For a trial period starting this Michaelmas, informal hall – taking place at 6pm – will no longer be a catered service. Instead, students will be required to collect their meals at a canteen-style counter, bringing Christ Church in line with the majority of other colleges.
Formal hall, held daily at 7pm, will remain a catered service.
In addition, weekday breakfast will move from the 16th Century great hall to the less distinguished Freind Room, reportedly due to consistently low attendance.
Students expressed concern that once they are no longer served at their tables, and instead are made to queue to collect food, waiting times will grow insufferably long and college social life will suffer.
One student told Cherwell: “Some people are concerned that, under the trial system, they will have to queue for a long time to get food and that it will likely make dinner a less social occasion, with people all eating at different times within the time window for informal.”
Catered dining was described by Christ Church student George Hill as one of the college’s “defining features” in a Cherwell opinion piece. He further wrote that it is this tradition that “draws students to Christ Church”, and that the change was therefore “completely disingenuous towards the newly arriving freshers who may have to change their meal plans”.
Hill continued: “a self-catered service will no doubt reduce the quality of food, with more of it being prepared hours beforehand and kept under heat lamps. This in turn will put further strain on the formal hall staff, who will have to prepare more fresh food under a set menu.”
Other students have alleged to Cherwell that the changes were undertaken with no consultation of either the JCR executive or the wider student body.
When contacted for comment Christ Church’s JCR President said: “there will be ongoing discussion with the JCR about whether to make [the changes] permanent.”
Reportedly the student body did not even discover that plans to abolish catered service were set to take effect until the news was leaked in an Oxfeud post.
Following this, the JCR food representative contacted members to state: “Hall are also going to trial a self-service dinner for informal… Hopefully this should be a quicker alternative to waiting for three courses to be served but remember that this is on a trial basis and will be reviewed if it is unpopular or there are big queues!”
The apparent lack of regard from college for student opinion outraged many, and reportedly led some to attempt a “half-hearted and ultimately abandoned” boycott of hall.
Second year Christ Church student Ama Neubert told Cherwell: “The college went right over the JCR’s head and the lack of communication has left a bad taste in lots of our mouths. It is just a trial for this term but people have jokes about boycotting informal if it becomes a permanent fixture.”
Students at other colleges were less sympathetic, with one third year student at Hertford telling Cherwell: “I can understand the concerns relating to college democracy, but the idea that having to queue to be served dinner will tear apart Christ Church’s social fabric seems pretty absurd.
“If anything, being able to choose a time within a fairly wide window to eat is far more con- venient, and still allows friends to choose to arrive and sit together.”
Christ Church did not respond to a request for comment.