2015 General Meeting

Date of Meeting

    2015 General Meeting

    Date: Sunday 5th week, Trinity 2015 (2015-05-24)


    a) Matters Arising

    There are no Matters Arising from the previous GM.

    b) Passage of Motions without discussion

    The list of motions will be read out. Those motions that do not concern amendments to the Constitution or the passing of money may be passed without discussion, if there are no objections and no requests to hear more about the motion.

    c) Amendments to the Constitution

    1. Ethnic Minorities and International Students Officers [Annie Williamson & Cameron Kigonya]

    This JCR notes:

    1. That there is currently a single pair of elected JCR officers responsible for ‘Ethnic Minorities and International Students’.
    2. That the issues faced by students from ethnic minorities are often very different to those faced by international students.
    3. That the current 2014-2015 elected JCR committee will finish their term in Michaelmas 2015.

    This JCR believes:

    1. That Balliol should provide tailored support for students from both ethnic minorities and international backgrounds.
    2. That having a single pair of officers responsible for ‘Ethnic Minorities and International Students’ conflates important and distinct responsibilities to the detriment of both groups of students.
    3. That JCR officers can continue to cooperate and coordinate events together where appropriate without sharing the same portfolio.

    This JCR resolves:

    1. To make the following changes to the Constitution, to take effect at the end of the current Committee’s term of office:
      1. To strike “Ethnic Minorities & International Students’ Officer” from the list of Committee Offices in Part V clause 2.5, replacing it with “Ethnic Minorities Officer” and “International Students Officer” and reordering and renumbering the list as appropriate.
    2. To make the following changes to Standing Orders, to take effect at the end of the current Committee’s term of office:
      1. To strike “the Ethnic Minorities and International Students Officer” from the list of Committee Offices that attend Welfare Subcommittee in Part IV clause 2.4, replacing it with “the Ethnic Minorities Officer” and “the International Students Officer” and reordering and renumbering the list as appropriate, and correcting “six Committee Offices” to “seven Committee Offices”.
      2. To strike Part III section 17, “Duties of the Ethnic Minority and International Students Officer (EMIS)”.
      3. To add the following to Part III, renumbering and reordering the list as appropriate:

    Duties of the Ethnic Minorities Officer

    1.In addition to other duties imposed by the Constitution and Standing Orders and by the resolutions of the Committee or of General Meetings, the Ethnic Minorities Officer shall:

    a.represent the interests of Balliol's ethnic minority students;

    b.work with the Access and Admissions Officer and the Oxford Access Scheme in order to raise the profile of Balliol among ethnic minority applicants;

    2.The Ethnic Minorities Officer has a termly budget of £50, which shall be used in accordance with part IV, section 5 of the Constitution.

    Duties of the International  Students Officer

    1.In addition to other duties imposed by the Constitution and Standing Orders and by the resolutions of the Committee or of General Meetings, the International Students Officer shall:

    a.provide international members of the JCR with specific assistance, information and support beyond the responsibilities of the Dr WHO; and

    b.represent the interests of Balliol's international students;

    c.manage and maintain the international storage room.

    2.The International Students Officer has a termly budget of £50, which shall be used in accordance with part IV, section 5 of the Constitution.

    d) Amendments to Standing Orders

    There are no amendments to Standing Orders.

    e) Amendments to Standing Policy

    There are no amendments to Standing Policy.

    f) Main Agenda

    2. St Catz’s [Duncan Shepherd]

    This JCR notes:

    1. St. Catherine's College Finance Committee has recently removed fiscal autonomy from St Catherine’s JCR.
    2. St. Catherine's College has not transferred the termly £5400 JCR allowance to the JCR current account, leaving the JCR committee c.£2000 out of pocket. 
    3. St. Catherine’s College will only give the JCR money if they submit receipts to the college finance office after they have made purchases. 
    4. This system causes problems such as:
      1. It is slow;
      2. It gives college the opportunity to veto any JCR purchases, a veto which may have to be used under Charity law; and
      3. It means the committee must be able to go for long periods of time waiting for reimbursement, thus potentially excluding students without credit to stand on their committee.
    5. St. Catherine's JCR requires control of funding to operate on a day to day basis and to organise big projects like freshers' week 
    6. St. Catherine’s JCR President and JCR Committee are undertaking a variety of action
    7. Corpus Christi and St. John's JCRs has already loaned St Catz JCR £500, and other JCRs are also proposing motions to lend money to St Catz (including Univ, Magdalen, Mansfield, St Peter’s, Wadham, St Anne's, Jesus, Brasenose, Exeter, and Worcester).
    8. St Catherine’s JCR has voted to accept loans from other JCRs up to the amount that they would have expected to receive from college and not more. 
    9. St Catherine's JCR has enough money to repay these loans in its reserve account but the treasurer does not currently have access to this account.
    10. Balliol has a strong history both of being politically and socially engaged, and in the recent past has supported Exeter JCR during their ‘conversations’ with the College
    11. St Catherine’s JCR has a right to fiscal autonomy under the Education Act 1994 as a Student Union.

    This JCR believes:

    1. That Balliol JCR should support our fellow students at St. Catherine's as they attempt to regain funding and fiscal autonomy. 
    2. St Catherine's JCR would lend us money if we were facing this problem.
    3. It is no inconvenience to the JCR Committee or the JCR to lend money to St Catherine's
    4. It is right for Oxford JCRs to stand together on issues which effect students to this degree

    This JCR resolves:

    1. To loan St. Catherine's JCR £500 (interest free) to allow them to operate while the college withholds funding.
    2. To sign an agreement with St Catz JCR reps before any money is transferred, which will indicate that the money is an interest-free loan and that it is expected to be paid back but that there will be no sanctions if it is not.
    3. To leave a clear note that this money has been loaned in the President and Treasurer handover documents so that future Presidents, Treasurers and Committees do not forget about the loan.
    4. To publicly support St. Catherine’s JCR in regaining fiscal autonomy and independence from the College.

    3. Purchase of Grayson Perry ‘Map of Days’ [Will Aitchinson]

    This JCR notes:

    1. That the Art Fund money needs to be invested (Duncan).
    2. That the JCR has been made an offer by the art gallery and dealership Paragon Press of £10k off the original price of a £30k Grayson Perry print, ‘Map of Days’.
    3. That the buttery needs to be decorated, and would be a secure location for valuable investments of the Art Fund that cannot go in students’ rooms.

    This JCR believes:

    1. That the Grayson Perry print would be a good investment even without the reduction, the discount therefore making it a very prudent choice.
    2. That the theme of ‘Map of Days’, an exploration of the self, is a relevant topic for a JCR acquisition, with which many members of the JCR will be able to associate.
    3. That Grayson Perry is a fascinating individual, and embodies liberal values regarding gender.
    4. There would be enough money left over to pursue other projects which include funding a female portrait for hall, as well as achieving the immediate aim of investing a large proportion of the Art Fund.

    This JCR resolves:

    1. To purchase ‘Map of Days’ at the discounted price of £20k (before VAT) and hang it in the Buttery.
    2. To contact Grayson Perry if this motion passes to see if he would be willing to come and give a talk at Balliol.
    4. LGBTQ Flag [Indigo Wilde & Sam Gibb]

    This JCR notes:

    1. That people belonging to the various groups who identify as LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual, gender non-binary or non-conforming, and others) have historically faced oppression and marginalization in British and in global society, and many continue to face these today.
    2. That the transgender pride flag and the gay pride flag have become symbols of the resistance of these communities to the oppression and marginalization they face. The sight of these symbols inspires LGBTQ+ people and others in the face of this oppression and marginalization.
    3. That in this spirit, Balliol College already has a policy of flying the gay pride flag or the rainbow flag for the last day of the month of February, LGBT History Month in the UK.
    4. That if there is another pressing reason, such as a special event in college or in the event of a death requiring a flag flown at halfmast, an LGBTQ+ flag cannot be flown that day. Also, many students and staff do not come to college every day, and therefore might miss this day.
    5. That moreover, many other colleges fly the flag for longer periods of time, including a week or for the whole month, and there is no reason the flag cannot be flown on more days, excepting a particular day requiring another flag.

    This JCR believes:

    1. That Balliol College and the Balliol JCR are a welcoming communities for students of all sexualities and gender identities, and this oppression and marginalization has no place within the college.
    2. That ensuring that an LGBTQ+ flag is flown for a noticeable period of time is a good way of symbolizing this commitment.

    This JCR resolves:

    1. To propose that the College extend flying an LGBTQ+ flag to a period of at least one week during the month of February, with the transgender pride flag and the gay pride (rainbow) flag each being flown on one or more of these days, for a minimum of three days total.
    2. That the JCR, jointly with the MCR, shall purchase a transgender pride flag for the college.

    Amendment I [Richard May]

    Add Notes 6: That past LGBTQ officers have attempted to negotiate for longer periods of flag-flying with no success.

    Add Believes 3: That College may again refuse our request for the flag to be flown for a longer period of time.

    Amend Resolves 2: “That if College agree to our requests, the JCR, together with the MCR, shall purchase a transgender pride flag for the college.”

    Amendment II [Chessy Whalen]

    Amend Believes 1, changing “are a welcoming communities” to “should be welcoming communities”.


    1. EMIS

    There were a number of short factual questions regarding Committee size inflation; Annie and Cam said that they did not feel this would be an issue.

    It was asked whether it would be possible to divide up the responsibilities within the EMIS role, without splitting it into two separate positions; Annie said that this was effectively the current case, and splitting it up would help both parts of the role more evenly.

    We moved to a vote.

    The motion passed.

    2. St Catz’s

    The St Catz’s Entz rep outlined the current situation, and that they have both tried to explain the situation to the College and sent them two formal letters outlining the issues with College’s proposed system. She said that two years ago, Catz JCR had changed bank and temporarily lost their receipts, and that College were claiming this could be ‘solved’ by controlling the JCR’s finances. In sixth week, there is another meeting with College and they hope to change College’s mind by then. If not, they’re taking the matter to the higher educational ombudsman.

    Rose asked whether it would be possible for this to be recorded in Catz’s Standing Policy equivalent. Duncan said that he would ask for this because he wanted the money back eventually.

    Dan asked what Catz spends money on.  She said they spent money on Sky TV, welfare, Entz, and pizza for GMs.

    John asked whether Committee members can get money in advance from College; she responded that this was not the case, and that they would have to pay out of their own money up front and claim reimbursement later. Christ Church use this system and it’s largely non-functional.

    John also asked how quickly College would pay people back; she said that theoretically it was a couple of days, but in practice College staff didn’t operate consistent working hours and that this would not work.

    Jamie asked how Catz’s system differed from ours; Duncan said that our College effectively acted as a funnel from which money was poured, and that we manage our own money. She said that Catz JCR have formally declared independence from the College, and are now an unincorporated association.

    Dan asked what the timeframe for resolution was. She said that students are writing to their tutors about the issue, and that they will make a show of not standing up for Fellows in Hall.

    It was asked whether Balliol could put pressure on Catz to change their behaviour. Duncan said that they were waiting for 6th week before taking action like that.

    Richard May asked whether Catz had considered having a rent strike, and had the capability to do so. Duncan said that would be a matter for next term.

    Richard Ware asked what Catz JCR’s legal status was; Duncan said it was the same status as Balliol JCR, except the turnover was too low to require charitable registration.

    It was asked whether Catz JCR would have to pay legal fees if the matter went to the Higher Education Ombudsman; this would not be the case.

    We moved to debate.

    John said that the reimbursement procedure was broadly the same as the one we operated, and that he felt the Ombudsman would probably not see an issue because people eventually got their money back. Duncan said that he has mentioned the issue to various people within Balliol, and they were of the opinion that this would work, and that the difference between us and Catz was that we run our own reimbursement system.

    Chessy said that in terms of us running our own reimbursement scheme, it worked because we actually ran it rather than College doing so.

    Richard Ware asked if we could use the political campaigning fund. John said we had £520 in the political campaigning fund, so it would leave us quite low.

    Rose said that she agreed with Chessy, and that even if the appeal did not work we should still give the money to Catz.

    There was a call to move to a vote. We moved to a vote.

    The motion passed unanimously.

    3. Map of Days

    Ross said that we currently have £36,750 in the fund, and that the painting would go in the Buttery (meaning that we wouldn’t have to pay for security). Several knowledgeable College figures have said that the painting would go up in value.

    Dan said that the £20,000 did not include VAT, and asked if there would also be handling or agent fees. Ross said shipping fees would be low, so the final price would be in the region of £24,000.

    Rose asked if Grayson Perry was a white man. Duncan replied that this was the case.

    Richard Ware asked what was happening with our other really expensive painting. Ross said that they were having it repaired and reframed, and that the location would be decided in a future motion.

    It was asked why we couldn’t just put it in the JCR. Ross responded that it was both too big and too valuable.

    Ellie asked why the paintings were so expensive to move; Duncan said it was due to repairs and damp damage of paintings.

    John asked if we were buying the only copy. Richard Ware said that there were about 40 copies of the print.

    Sarah asked whether we’d have to pay lots of money to insure it; Ross said it would come under College’s insurance.

    John asked if we were buying more paintings to go in rooms; Ross said that there was a sale at the Ruskin Art School at the end of term and they would be going shopping there.

    Rose said that she hoped we wouldn’t keep having Believes 4, and that eventually we would see it as a Resolves. Ross said that he did not feel female portraits in Hall were something the JCR should pay for, and that Duncan was lobbying on that front with College.

    Dan said that he had just investigated, and that the real return on a painting like that was likely to be around 3%.

    Chessy said that she thought the painting looked cool (there was general applause), and that she thought this was a cool idea.

    There was a call to move to a vote.

    The motion passed.

    4. LGBTQ flag

    Duncan outlined the motion; Sam will not be attending. The incident in which College took down the LGBTQ flag for a dinner was highlighted; Duncan said that this had been poorly communicated, and that the issue was that the Balliol flag was traditionally always flown for that dinner – consequently, College had moved the LGBTQ flag-flying to the previous day.

    Richard May outlined his amendment; it was taken as friendly. Chessy outlined her amendment; it was taken as friendly.

    We moved to a vote.

    The motion passed unanimously.

    The meeting ended.