Christ Church’s JCR has voted against abolishing the scholar and exhibitioner ballot privilege.
While the motion gained majority support, it did not receive the 2/3 of votes needed to pass.
Christ Church’s current policy is for those who get a scholarship or exhibition in their first year to get first choice of rooms via a separate ballot in their 3rd year.
The motion was brought forward by James Mulvey, and seconded by Rebecca Rogers.
According to the motion: “Generally speaking, due to structural education inequalities that may not balance out by the end of first year, privately educated students are more likely to achieve a Scholarship than state educated students.
“There is no standardised procedure for awarding Exhibitions across subjects – year-on-year the same subjects award several Exhibitions while others award none.”
They argued that: “The quality of one’s final years of accommodation should not be influenced by results achieved in first year or via the non-standardised awarding of Exhibitions.
“Arbitrary factors such as educational background and subject choice should not continue to influence one’s quality of accommodation at Christ Church.
“Hard work should continue to be rewarded, but via the existing system of financial reward and the Scholar’s Gown which does not recognise high achievement at the expense of others.”
There are very few colleges which still have ballot privileges for scholars and exhibitioners. Hertford was the most recent college to abolish the system.
James Mulvey, who brought the motion to the JCR, said: “Opposition to the motion focused on the role of the Scholars’ room ballot bump as an incentive for hard work. Clearly this incentive is not working, as Christ Church has maintained a mediocre position on the Norrington Table in recent years.
“In fact, Christ Church is one of the only colleges across Oxford that gives preferential treatment to Scholars and Exhibitioners when it comes to room selection. If there is progressive change on this front in Oxford, it is clear that Christ Church is falling well behind.
“Christ Church often has a negative image, one that is characterized as archaic, static and elitist. I have fortunately found this inaccurate to a large extent from my time here. However, on this important issue of Scholar and Exhibitioner ballot privilege, we are on the wrong side of progress I believe, and the majority of voting JCR members agreed.
“This change has commanded the majority of our JCR and yet college staff are against it. Christ Church can only exorcise these often-unfair labels if it embraces reform and engages with student, otherwise as it stands it will be condemned to living in the past.”