2014 General Meeting

Date of Meeting

2014 General Meeting

Date: Sunday 3rd week, Michaelmas 2014 (2014-10-26)

Agenda


1.In remembrance of John O’Sullivan [Anna Hufton]

2.Consent Workshops [Izzy and Claudia]

3. Ball Money [Ellie Fox and Tabatha Pinto]

4.Tortoise Motion [Meg Peyton-Jones] 

5. Wardrobe for JCR costumes [Molly Rogers]

6. Balliol Literary Society Money [Georgina and Ellen]        

7. Motion to support changes to College guidelines on Periods of Absence [Ryan Diamond and Ellen Ellis]

               

1. In remembrance of John O’Sullivan [Anna Hufton]

This JCR notes:

  1. John O’Sullivan served as a night porter at Balliol for 12 years.
  2. John sadly died this week.
  3. Throughout his time here John offered much help and assistance to JCR members.
  4. John’s funeral will be held on Thursday 30th October.
  5. John’s family request no flowers but donations to The Brodey Cancer Centre Banbury.

This JCR believes:

  1. John O’Sullivan supported the JCR during his time at Balliol.
  2. We would like to make a gesture in memory of John, in line with his family’s wishes.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To make a donation of ÂŁ250 to The Brodey Cancer Centre Banbury.

2.Consent Workshops [Izzy Williams]

This JCR notes:

  1. The feedback from the workshops held this Freshers’ week (October 2014) was overwhelmingly positive
  2. That the motion passed in HT14 making these workshops compulsory does not explicitly state that this should be the case for all future Freshers’ weeks

This JCR believes:

  1. That consent workshops are an appropriate and desirable way of highlighting the issues surrounding sexual consent for incoming students
  2. That Balliol JCR should be a community in which sexual consent is respected and sexual violence is not tolerated. 
  3. That making the workshops compulsory is important to ensure that the whole community is included in the discussion and awareness of sexual consent

This JCR resolves:

  1. To mandate the Vice-President to include compulsory Sexual Consent Workshops in every Freshers’ week timetable
  2. To mandate the Women’s Officers to organise facilitator training for Balliol students who wish to facilitate the workshops 
  3. To mandate the Women’s Officers with the help of other members of the Welfare Sub-Committee to organise the workshops

3. Ball Money [Ellie Fox and Tabatha Pinto]

This JCR notes:

  1. That College have told the Balliol Ball Committee that they need ÂŁ5000 to put into the ball account before they can have access to it so they can start sorting out catering, entertainment, etc. this term.
  2. That Ticket sales can only be opened in Hilary Term.
  3. That College will not loan the Committee the money.
  4. That without the loan from the JCR, the Ball cannot take place.
  5. That the JCR has loaned money to previous Balliol Ball Committee.

This JCR believes:

  1. That, for many JCR members, balls are an enjoyable part of college life
  2. That the JCR should support, and cooperate with the Ball committee, to ensure an enjoyable event for members of the JCR

This JCR resolves:

  1. To loan Balliol Ball Committee ÂŁ5000, to be paid back in full after the ball has taken place in Trinity Term.

4.Tortoise Motion [Meg Peyton-Jones]

This JCR notes:

  1. Balliol doesn’t currently have a college tortoise
  2. Research (talking to other colleges with tortoises) and history indicate that owning a college tortoise is a manageable thing to achieve
  3. Due to recent legislation, tortoises in the UK have to be bought as infants. Some tortoise-selling organisations are ethically dubious, and it’s hard to tell which ones these are. Rehoming tortoises on the other hand is cheaper, ethnically sound, easy to do and you know more about the tortoise before you adopt it (temperament, needs etc.). Rehomed tortoises have been adopted successfully and easily by several people Meg has talked to.

This JCR believes:

  1. Tortoises are great pets
  2. Tortoises at Balliol are a tradition and part of the college’s heritage
  3. The alumni would love it
  4. College unity is increased by love for a common pet
  5. Tortoises should be ethically sourced

This JCR resolves:

  1. That the JCR should start looking seriously into getting a rehomed tortoise
  2. That the JCR President should be mandated to discuss this with senior staff

Amendment I [Xav Cohen] (Failed)

  1. Adds resolves 3: The tortoise should be named Rosa.

Amendment II [Toby Dirnhuber] (Passed after recount)

  1. Adds resolves 3: The tortoise should be named Esio Trotsky.

Amendment III [Darryl Braier-Lorimer] (Passes as friendly)

  1. Strikes resolves 2.
  2. Adds resolves 2: That the Comrades Tortoise should be mandated to discuss this with senior staff.

5. Wardrobe for JCR costumes [Molly Rogers]

This JCR notes:

  1. There is a box of costumes left over from last year’s charity musical.
  2. Since the musical, the box has been stored in student houses.

This JCR believes:

  1. These costumes may be useful in future Balliol productions.
  2. It is not fair to clutter student houses with JCR crap.
  3. The costumes should be stored in a wardrobe in the Pilch theatre.
  4. The best wardrobe for the job is Argos’s Metal and Polycotton Double Wardrobe as it is lightweight (and therefore portable if needs be), spacious and cheap, and contains shelves as well as a rail which are super handy. The dimensions of the proposed wardrobe are 175x116x54cm.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To spend ÂŁ34.99 from the Drama budget on the Argos metal and Polycotton wardrobe
  2. To place said wardrobe in the right hand room of the Pilch theatre and use it for JCR costume storage

Amendment I [Molly Rogers] (Passed)

  1. Adds Notes 3: Wardrobes need coathangers.
  2. Adds Resolves 3: To pass ÂŁ10 for coathangers.

6.Balliol Literary Society Money [Georgina and Ellen]                                    

This JCR notes:

  1. That Balliol currently has no formal literary society
  2. That two English tutors have asked three students (two JCR members and one MCR member) to help set up a Balliol Literary Society
  3. That a speaker has been booked by the tutors for Monday of 8th week as the first event of Balliol Literary Society

This JCR believes:

  1. That the turnout of this event would be much improved with posters to advertise it
  2. That the cost of 15 A3 black and white posters is approximately ÂŁ5
  3. That it would be useful to have a fund for future advertising and costs for Balliol Literary Society

This JCR resolves:

  1. To pass up to £50 in total to fund the advertising for this and the Hilary and Trinity 2015 events of the Balliol Literary Society

7.Motion to support changes to College guidelines on Periods of Absence [Ryan Diamond and Ellen Ellis]

This JCR notes:

  1. Students can be granted suspension of status, for medical, academic, or disciplinary reasons, or any combination of these reasons.
  2. Section 3.2 of the College Handbook reads: “Undergraduate students who are granted suspension of status may not participate in the activities of any College society, represent the College in any team, obtain credit in college, or vote in JCR elections whilst on leave. They should not use any College facilities (Library, Hall, etc.) without express permission from the Dean. They should ensure that they return any books out on loan to the College Library, or any other university library, before departing.”
  3. Colleges have the autonomous capacity to alter rules included in the handbook, from changing them outright, to the expansion and clarification of the rules.
  4. Some current Balliol students have been granted suspension of status, and are presently directly affected by these rules.
  5. It is widely assumed, though not explicitly outlined in the College guidelines, that suspended students do not have the opportunity to speak or vote in this motion, or any GM.

This JCR believes:

  1. The provision of suspension of status is useful and essential for some students.
  2. Suspension of status is not, and should not be, a taboo in College.
  3. It is important that all Balliol students should understand the college guidelines on the suspension of status, and that its description in the Handbook should be unambiguous and transparent.
  4. More can be done to support suspended students, or students considering taking a leave of absence.
  5. The way we talk about Periods of Absence and its surrounding issues is important, organic, and should change over time.
  6. The description of suspension of status in the College Handbook is inadequate, both for students considering a leave of absence and for students on a leave of absence, because:
    1. Its brevity is not fitting of the subject;
    2. It does not define what “suspension of status” means, especially regarding the delineation between academic, disciplinary or medical leave;
    3. Its ambiguous usage of “should” is not explicitly prohibitive;
    4. Its ambiguous usage of “facilities” and “etc.” does not clarify exactly what a suspended student can and cannot do, regarding access to other College properties;
    5. Its ambiguity regarding suspended students’ ability to vote in elections does not explicitly provide guidelines on their ability to propose GM motions, or their ability to speak in GM motions;
    6. Its usage of the word “departed” carries morbid, unwarranted and avoidable connotations, and falsely implies that all suspended students leave the Oxford area.
  7. In its lack of transparency and archaisms, the way in which the College guideline is written makes the leave of absence experience unpleasant and difficult to understand for some students; and its brevity and opaqueness contributes to a culture that stigmatizes the notion of a leave of absence.
  8. While the College’s guidelines on the physical absence of students from College facilities may benefit some students on leave, for whom physical absence from university is necessary, it has the capacity to compromise, socially and academically, students on leave who may want to make use of college facilities.
  9. Suspended students’ absences from College, especially from social functions and society activities, can make their reintegration into a new year group difficult.
  10. Suspended students are a very important part of the College community, whose voices deserves to be heard in JCR elections, especially considering they will be in direct contact with members of the JCR committee while on leave, and, in many circumstances, new committee members will be elected while suspended students are on leave.
  11. While the JCR cannot resolve to mandate the College practically to make immediate amends to these issues, its support of such a motion, as a political gesture, clarifies its opinion on the status of suspended students; sends a strong message to other Colleges, whose students may suffer under similarly ambiguously written and possibly detrimental rules; and positively contributes to a general social movement working to destigmatize issues surrounding students’ leave of absence.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To support a rewriting of the College guidelines on Periods of Absence, rectifying the issues outlined in Believes 6 and Believes 7;
  2. To support enhanced welfare provision for students considering a leave of absence, and for students currently taking leaves of absence;
  3. To support:
    1. Suspended students being granted the opportunity to access College properties (including the mainsite; Jowett Walk; Holywell Manor; the Library; the Hall; the JCR room; the TV room; the bar), which would go some way in rectifying the problems outlined in Believes 8 and Believes 9;
    2. Suspended students being granted the opportunity to attend social functions, society activities and other college events, which would go some way in rectifying the problems outlined in Believes 8 and Believes 9;
    3. Suspended students being granted the opportunity to attend GMs, vote in GM motions, and propose GM motions;
    4. Suspended students being granted the opportunity to vote in all JCR elections, which would go some way in rectifying the problem outlined in Believes 10.

Amendment I [Richard May] (Passes)

  1. Amends Resolves 3: Replace “Suspended students…” with “Where appropriate, suspended students…”.

Amendment II [Anna Hufton] (Passes)

  1. Adds resolves 4: To create a Working Group to continue these discussions and present more specific recommendations to the next General Meeting.

Minutes


1. In remembrance of John O’Sullivan [Anna Hufton]

Anna explained that sadly John the Porter died a week ago today, and it would be nice to have a gesture from the JCR to mark this happening. The family don’t want flowers at the funeral, but are taking donations. AH would like to pass £250 to give to the chosen charity, AH is not set on the amount but think it sounds appropriate. MD said that the money should come from annual funds rather than from the charity budget. AM said that when Vince, the Porter before Derrick, died in 2011, they put a portrait of him behind the bar. Will Smith, a physics graduate at Holywell could be contacted if we would like something similar to be done for John. There was no opposition to the motion.

2. Consent Workshops [Izzy and Claudia]

IW said that this Freshers Week consent workshops received good feedback. They would like the VP and Women’s Officers to be mandated to continue these workshops in future. CF confirmed that there were some things that could be fine-tuned, and that the workshops are always being improved by OUSU, and any further feedback would be welcome. The motion passed without opposition.

3. Ball Money [Ellie Fox and Tabatha Pinto]

TB said that there was no money in the Ball Fund, and that College would not be providing it because it’s not a comemoration ball. The organisers need money this term as they need to start getting deposits, and can’t sell tickets until next term. MD said that this would come from the bar reserves, and that this would not put the bar in any financial danger. EF said that if they made a loss, and weren’t able to pay the money back, they would take it out of the next ball’s budget. The ball is totally funded by sponsorship and tickets. The MCR will not be making a loan. The committee have £7000 in reserve in their budget so should be able to pay the JCR back.

4. Tortoise Motion [Meg Peyton-Jones]

Meg has been talking to other Colleges that have tortoises and thinks that it is a manageable thing to do. Tortoises in the UK have to be bought as infants, and some can be ethically dubious, so a better thing to do might be to rehouse one. DT also added that the JCR elects comrade tortoises every year, despite not owning a tortoise. The gardeners are not opposed to the idea but the gardeners have a list of concerns. HE asked who would look after the tortoise when no one is here – the answer is the gardeners. It is better if the tortoise lives away from the JCR so that drunken students don’t stumble across it. The last tortoise that we had died.

DBL said that the last Balliol tortoise was free roaming. MR raised the point that tortoises need to have an indoor and an outdoor area; that they need specific living conditions and are difficult to look after. JM asked when tortoises hibernate: the answer is 22 weeks, most of which will be the time that the JCR are here.DT said that four or five years ago, the tortoise went missing, then we got a call from Banbury saying “we’ve got your tortoise”, and then they hung up. The mystery deepens… MR said that when properly cared for, tortoises live 80-100 years. The average life of a captive tortoise is 3 years. MR made a speech in opposition to the motion. There are lots of responsibilities when keeping a tortoise, and though it would be good to advertise the College to freshers.

XC said that he is a big fan of tradition, and that the College tortoise we used to have was called Rosa after Rosa Luxemberg. XC proposed that the tortoise be call Rosa. The JCR made a disgruntled noise. OMH said that there was no need to make the tortoise political. RW suggested some further names, the most popular of which was ESIO Trotsky. XC’s amendment failed.A new amendment was passed to call the tortoise ESIO Trotsky. This amendment passed (45 to 43). We had a recount. The amendment passed again (46 to 44).

HE made the “pointed question” of: are we just owning a tortoise because other Colleges have one. We had a straw poll in interest in an unspecific pet, and the majority were interested. JS said that we can’t even look after Fifa properly, so someone might get drunk and do something stupid, and that it isn’t worth the hassle. AH said that even if the motion doesn’t pass there could be further exploration. AH said that she would rather DT didn’t spend his limited time and negotiating power talking to senior College management about a tortoise. So her proposal was to look into it more with the Comrade Tortoises. DBL suggested the amendment that the Comrades Tortoise be mandated to discuss this with senior staff. MR made a speech in opposition to the motion. The motion passed.

5. Wardrobe for JCR costumes [Molly Rogers]

MR explained that we have lots of costumes left over from the Charity Musical that could be useful in the future. MR confirmed that she has measured the space for the wardrobe and measured it out. The wardrobe she would like to purchase is light-weight so could be moved. JM said that the Pilch is hired out by lots of other people, who might use the costumes that were stored there and not necessarily put them back. MR hasn’t yet raised this with College, or the Jowett wardens, apart from with College. MD said he wasn’t opposed to the motion but that he thinks MR should talk to College. MR said that the wardrobe is not lockable.

AP opposed the motion because the wardrobe is not lockable. JM said that the charity musical only lasts four weeks of the year, so putting a wardrobe in there for the whole year doesn’t seem worth it. He thinks that it will be turned into a communal wardrobe. MR said that they could have a checklist – but JM thinks that given the Pilch is College not JCR property this would be very hard to enforce. AF said that the wardrobe should be open to be shared. HE said that if we are going to get a wardrobe we should get a good one. MR said that the reason for the light one was that it could be moved if it got in the way. MR summarised that she and RW would like not to have to store costumes in their rooms. JM made a speech in opposition saying that they should have a lockable box or chest in College. The motion passed.

6. Balliol Literary Society Money [Georgina and Ellen]

GW explained that College doesn’t have a literary society. Two tutors (AS and SP) have booked a speaker for 8th week – need money to advertise it (up to 50 pounds). Sam Bumby asked why we can’t print for free in the JCR office. Max said that money still comes from the JCR.Max asked about College money. EE said that we want to make this a joint JCR MCR effort. RH asked if the speakers only be accessible to literary students, and EE said no. Anna Hufton asked if are the posters going to be fancy and why do you need so much money. GW said that the money is for the whole year. TP asked why 15 posters - to advertise in the English faculty etc. Max suggested that the money come out of Scrawl fund. Motion passed without opposition.

7. Motion to support changes to College guidelines on Periods of Absence [Ryan Diamond and Ellen Ellis]

RD explained that this is an issue of societal oppression of people who are already vulnerable. The JCR should make a statement as a unified body. The college should handle the issue in a transparent manner. RH asked about the JCR’s current position on this, and AH confirmed that the JCR doesn’t have a final say on this; the college defines what it means to be a member of the JCR, and able to vote. Currently suspended status students can’t vote. MR made the point of information that currently SS are students not allowed in college without special permission from the Dean. This can have a serious effect on mental health.

RD said that in Feb OUSU passed a motion so that SS students could use University and faculty libraries. Colleges can choose for themselves. Balliol handbook does at least mention SS students. St Johns handbook is the best at dealing with SS students. DT said that senior management think that Balliol are very liberal with SS students, but that they don’t want to be bound by law. However this precedent is in a state of flux given that Doug has just left. RD said that the College has badly written rules which it is enforcing in a very harsh manner. RD said that his aim was not to enforce new rules but to get College to outline their rules.

RM said that we should amend the writing of the motion to make this clearer. AH said that when it comes to academic and health reasons, she thinks it would be hard to create universal rules: only disciplinary measures should feel punishing to the student. RM raised the idea that College might be damaging for some people away for mental health reasons. MR raised the idea that someone in College on SS might be damaging to the rest of their friends in College. DT proposed that we move into debate. AH said that when students are on SS they have no formal contact with the College, so you can’t know if they are getting better or if they are getting the support they require. AH said that there should be someone in College responsible for overseeing SS students. They also thought about a system where people who had been on SS would write a letter to others who had been on SS. DS said that we might not be able to solve specifics in this forum.

HE asked who would decide about the case by case basis – if things could all be dealt with individually then our rules would have no impact. RW said that we could suggest that a student on SS could be a member of the JCR. RC said that nothing would happen unless College were also involved. MR said that at the moment you have a week to leave College after you have formally been put on medical leave. AH said that we have to start thinking about our priorities as we won’t be able to achieve everything. Given that University libraries are available, she would rather prioritise welfare support over use of the College library. JM spoke in favour of the motion on the basis that it would crystallise informal talks that have been going on in College following the OUSU motion. We then discussed ways in which to negotiate the idea of flexible rules.

RM bought an amendment. ML said that he thought that saying “where appropriate” would not stop College being unreasonable. RM suggested that the JCR would have a say in what was deemed appropriate. We then discussed the wording “where appropriate”. This amendment passed. DS said that passing this motion was important to signal to College that this is important. AH proposed setting a group coming up with more concrete proposals. AH mandated RD to set up a working group to gauge JCR priorities and come up with a plan to present to College. RM said that this was pointless because people would email RD anyway if they were interested. The amendment passes.

There was a request to move to a vote. AS said the motion should pass, but we need to come back to it. DT clarified that this would happen because of Resolves 4 anyway. AS retracted her procedural motion to delay the motion to the next GM. JM pointed out that we shouldn’t restrict the people who will actually negotiate with college too much at this point, as we will need to be open for points from college. The motion passed without opposition.