2015 General Meeting

Date of Meeting

2015 General Meeting

Date: Sunday 1st week, Hilary 2015 (2015-01-18)


1. Standing Policy Amendments [Richard May]

a) Investment

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy items ‘Arms Trade’ and ‘College Investments’.
  2. That the JCR has been pushing for the College and University to divest its investments for fossil fuels.

This JCR believes:

  1. That there is a significant overlap between these policies.
  2. That a single coherent policy is better than a collection of piecemeal policies.
  3. That the University’s investment decisions should be ethically driven as well as the College’s.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike ‘Arms Trade’ and ‘College Investments’ from Standing Policy.
  2. To add the following item of Standing Policy, “College and University Investments”:

This JCR believes:

  1. That the investment decisions of the College and the University should be driven not only by financial considerations, but also social, ethical and environmental concerns.
  2. That, to name two examples, investing in the arms trade or the fossil fuel industry is not ethically justifiable.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To lobby the College and the University to divest their investments from all ethically unjustifiable funds.

b) Nestle

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Nestle’.
  2. That there are 34 parts to this item, and that several parts are outdated.

This JCR believes:

  1. That excessively long motions are both tedious and difficult to follow.
  2. That consolidating and updating the item would make not only easier to follow, but also more accurate and relevant.
  3. That such a consolidated and updated item could be based off the ‘boycott resolution’ example motion made available on the website of Baby Milk Action, the boycott organisers.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To amend the Standing Policy item ‘Nestle’, replacing it with the following:

This JCR notes:

  1. That Nestlé is responsible for ongoing and systematic violations of the WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
  2. That Nestlé’s violations include promotion through health care systems, direct targeting of mothers and pregnant women with advertising, labelling products with idealising health and nutrition claims, and refusing to provide instructions for preparing the formula in a safe and sterile way.
  3. That according to the WHO, artificially fed babies are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die.
  4. That Nestlé is the target of a boycott currently run by Baby Milk Action, and a campaign promoting Nestlé-Free Zones was launched in May 2014.
  5. That in March 2001 NestlĂ© rejected Baby Milk Action’s four-point plan aimed at saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott and has repeatedly rejected it in the years since then. The four-point plan states:
    • NestlĂ© must accept in writing that the International Code and the subsequent, relevant Resolutions are minimum requirements for every country.
    • NestlĂ© must acknowledge in writing that it needs to change its policy and practice to bring them into line with the International Code and Resolutions in every country (i.e. explicitly drop its strategy of denial and deception).
    • Once NestlĂ© has made its commitment to change clear, Baby Milk Action will take the statements to the International NestlĂ© Boycott Committee (INBC) and suggest that a meeting with NestlĂ© to discuss its timetable for making the changes.
    • If IBFAN monitoring finds no violations from NestlĂ© for 18 months, the boycott will be called off.

This JCR believes:

  1. That a consumer boycott is a peaceful and effective way of encouraging a company to behave, and helps to keep this issue in the public and media spotlight.
  2. That Nestlé should abide by the WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions in their entirety as a minimum requirement in all countries.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To boycott the purchase, sale or endorsement of Nestle products, either by or for the JCR, until such a time as Baby Milk Action chooses to end the boycott.
  2. To call on Nestlé to conform to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and to act swiftly to end all violations reported to it.
  3. To call on NestlĂ© to accept Baby Milk Action’s four-point plan for saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott, and to act upon it.
  4. To lobby College to join the Nestle boycott, if they have not already done so.

c) Reserved Business

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Reserved Business’.
  2. That the College has a Senior Fellow for the JCR.
  3. That the JCR President is informed when matters pertaining to the JCR are discussed in reserved business.
  4. That the ‘JCR Executive’ does not exist.

This JCR believes:

  1. That this item of Standing Policy is outdated.
  2. That this item of Standing Policy has accomplished its purpose.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike ‘Reserved Business’ from Standing Policy.

d) Slates

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Slates’.
  2. That this item makes reference to the old Standing Orders, which no longer exist.

This JCR believes:

  1. That this reference should be updated to remain accurate.
  2. That the reference should be general rather than specific, in order to avoid having to update Standing Policy every time we amend the election regulations.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To amend the Standing Policy item ‘Slates’, Believes 3: “That slates promote the candidates involved outside of their own manifestos, despite the fact that the manifesto is supposed to be their only means of campaigning (excluding hustings, as specified in the Constitution’s election regulations).”

e) Third World Debt

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Third World Debt’.
  2. That the item uses the phrases ‘Third World’ and ‘developing countries’ throughout.
  3. That unlike most other ideological items of Standing Policy, this item does not require the JCR to support or oppose anything and has no resolves.
  4. That neither the JCR nor the College nor the University hold any of this debt.

This JCR believes:

  1. That the terms ‘Third World’ and ‘developing country’ are outdated and offensive.
  2. That because of Notes 3 and 4, this item has no effect on the JCR.
  3. That the point of Standing Policy is to express the long-term beliefs and aims of the JCR, enabling us to shape the JCR’s policy and actions many years from now, and that this item fails to do so.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike ‘Third World Debt’ from Standing Policy.

f) Sexual Harassment and Victim Blaming

 This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Sexual Harassment and Victim Blaming’.
  2. Believes 3 of this item, which states ‘That it is important for the JCR to make clear to all of its members that it does not condone any sexual harassment or assault.’

This JCR believes:

  1. That Believes 3 would be more effective as a Resolves.
  2. That the JCR should also support the survivors of sexual harassment or assault. 

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike Believes 3 from the Standing Policy item ‘Sexual Harassment and Victim Blaming’.
  2. To amend the Standing Policy item ‘Sexual Harassment and Victim Blaming’, adding Resolves 1 and 2:

This JCR resolves:

  1. To make clear to all of its members that it does not condone any sexual harassment or assault.
  2. To support the survivors of sexual harassment or assault.

g) Tutor for Disabled People

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Tutor for Disabled People’.
  2. That Nicola Trott is the Senior Tutor and Disability Officer.

This JCR believes:

  1. That this item of Standing Policy has accomplished its purpose.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike ‘Tutor for Disabled People’ from Standing Policy.

2. Charities Motions [Aisha Simon & Rose Hadshar]

This JCR notes:

  1. That the JCR charity officers raise lots of money.
  2. That under the current system, any JCR member can nominate a charity, which will then receive an equal share of the funds.
  3. That under the current system, the only way to oppose the nomination of a charity is to amend to strike it in full GM.
  4. The debates on the charities motion at the last GM.
  5. That the debates showed that some people in the JCR believe that charitable giving is an unquantifiable good, and that others do not.
  6. That both groups give money to charity.

This JCR believes:

  1. That giving money to charity is good.
  2. That Balliol JCR charity should be inclusive and representative.
  3. That charity is very important, and that like all important issues, it stimulates strong opinions.
  4. That the JCR needs a safe, inclusive way of discussing and considering carefully the charities that it gives to.
  5. That a full GM is too challenging a forum for this kind of discussion.
  6. That it’s worth taking a bit longer over charity in order to do it better.
  7. That dissent is important.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To adopt appendix 1 for the next charities GM.
  2. To review this motion again after the next charities GM.
  3. To facilitate the process of dissenting wherever possible.

Amendment 1 [John Clark-Maxwell]: Withdrawn

Strikes 3 - 7 of Appendix

Add to Appendix:

  1. The ballot for the charities will be conducted on the website
  2. The ballot will be open for at least 24 hours
  3. Each member of the JCR can submit a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd preference charity
  4. A first preference vote scores 5, a second preference vote scores 2, and a third preference vote scores 1
  5. The money will be divided between the charities in proportion to the number of points scored.

3. Scholar’s Gowns [Rose Hadshar]

This JCR notes:

  1. Commoner’s gowns.
  2. Scholar’s gowns.
  3. The price difference of approximately £20 between commoner’s and scholar’s gowns.
  4. That those who receive a First in their examination have the right to wear scholar’s gowns.

This JCR believes:

  1. That commoner’s gowns are uglier than scholar’s gowns.
  2. That exam results should not set people apart.
  3. That creating visual markers between those who have achieved different exam results, for whatever reason, is divisive, hierarchical, and hurtful.
  4. That the JCR should stand together to make the most inclusive and vibrant academic culture possible.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To mandate all JCR officers to wear commoner’s gowns in any transactions with the college requiring gowns.
  2. To inform college that the JCR does not support the commoner/scholar’s gown divide.

Amendment 1 [Aisha Simon]: Passed

Strikes believes 1

Adds believes:

  1. That scholar’s gowns are distinctively different to commoner’s gowns

Amendment 2 [Ryan Diamond]: Passed

Strikes believes 2

Adds believes:

  1. That exam results should not set people apart socially

Amendment 3 [Aisha]: Failed

Strikes believes 2 of Amendment 2

Adds notes:

  1. That exam results can have the negative effect of setting people apart socially

Amendment 4 [Aisha Simon]: Withdrawn

Strikes resolves 2

Adds resolves 2:

  1. To inform college that the JCR does not support the commoner/scholar’s gown distinction.

4. Hero of the JCR [Dan Turner]

This JCR notes:

  1. Richard May sunk a significant amount of his time into redesigning the JCR’s website last year.
  2. Richard May sunk a significant amount of his time into rewriting the JCR’s Constitution last year.
  3. It was decided last year to remove ‘joke’ items of Standing Policy and instead create a ‘JCR Heroes and Villains’ page on the JCR Website.

This JCR believes:

  1. Richard’s actions went far beyond what was expected of him as JCR Website and Computing Officer.
  2. Balliol JCR is a much more smoothly run operation thanks to Richard.
  3. We should celebrate the extra-ordinary achievements of JCR members.
  4. The ‘Heroes and Villains’ section of the JCR website should be used broadly and liberally.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To make Richard May a ‘Hero of the JCR’.

Amendment 1 [Flo Hardy] - Passed

Add resolves:

  1. To get Richard a present.

Amendment 2 [Anna Hufton] - Passed

Add believes:

  1. #yeswemay

Amendment 3 [Chessy Whalen] - Passed

Strike believes 4.

5. Manifestos [Richard May & John Clark-Maxwell]

This JCR notes:

  1. The current rules for election manifestos, which state that manifestos may be no more than 500 words in length for a Presidential candidate and 100 words for all other candidates.

This JCR believes:

  1. That 100 words may be insufficient to adequately explain your ideas, and that a fixed word limit creates pressure to use it all.
  2. That restricting candidates to one side of A4 would solve both of the above issues.
  3. That candidates will not take advantage of the proposed rule to write an essay instead of a manifesto, because nobody will read it.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To amend Part VIII clause 3.2 of the Constitution, striking and replacing it with:

3.2. All candidates are entitled to produce a manifesto, limited to one side of A4 paper in length.

Appendix I – Charities GMs

  1. That the JCR secretary send out the nominations and weblinks, provided by the nominators, prior to the GM.
  2. That the secretary in the same communication offers to append paragraphs containing important information on any of the charities to the GM agenda.
  3. That each nominator should present their charity to the GM in 2 minutes.
  4. That the Charity officers should bring ballot slips listing each nominated charity to the GM.
  5. That at the end of the GM each JCR member should receive a ballot slip, and number the nominated charities in order of preference.
  6. That the charity officers with any other JCR officials count the ballots.
  7. That the JCR Charity funds be distributed according to the preferences voiced in this vote, in the manner following:

The jth charity of n nominees receives this proportion of the total money: (n + 1 - j) / (Sum of i from i=1 to i=n)

For example, if there were 3 nominations, then 1+2+3=6. The charity with the least votes would receive one sixth of the funds; that with the most votes three sixths; and that in the middle, two sixths.


The meeting was chaired by Duncan Shepherd (JCR President), and minuted by Richard May (JCR Secretary). People's full names are given the first time they appear in each motion, and only first names for subsequent appearances during that motion (except for situations in which confusion could arise).

Nestle, Reserved Business, Slates, Tutor For Disabled People and Manifestos were passed with no objections ("nem con").

1(a) Investment 

Alex Potten asked what the current Standing Policy says. Richard May clarified this. It was asked how 'ethically unjustifiable' would be defined; Richard responded that this would be a matter for the JCR or for the Environment & Ethics Officers. The motion passed.

1(e) Third World Debt

Alex McKenzie expressed his view that the JCR should support the ending of Third World Debt, and that if the way the item was written was the issue then it could simply be rewritten. Richard May suggested that Alex bring an amendment to accomplish that. Rose Hadshar argued that the item would need to be almost completely rewritten, and suggested that striking it and adding the improved item at a later date would be the best approach. Harvey Ellis asked what the new item would be called, to which Duncan Shepherd replied that it would be a matter for the next GM. The motion passed.

1(f) Sexual Harassment & Victim Blaming 

Claudia Freemantle requested that the word ‘victims’ be changed to ‘survivors’ in the proposed change. The amendment was accepted as friendly, and the amended motion passed.

2. Charities Motions 

It was asked whether charities could be stricken with the proposed new method. Rose Hadshar admitted they could not, and suggested that an amendment be brought adding lower threshold below which charities did not receive money. 

There were several questions regarding whether the motion was a response to tension at the previous Charities GM. Aisha Simon and Rose felt that there was a genuine issue that the motion was attempting to resolve, and that they hoped it was representative of the JCR’s views. John Clark-Maxwell questioned why the process would take place at a GM; Rose said there was no reason it had to, but that a purely email-based system would be unlikely to get many responses. 

Anna Hufton asked how the formula had been decided upon, and Max Dalton clarified that it was the simplest way he could think of to accomplish the desired aim, giving a three-charity example (as found in the Appendix). Multiple questions followed regarding the ballot process: would it be only GM attendees that could vote (yes, since it would take place at a GM), and how would the actual voting work? It was concluded that the voting process itself was unspecified and could be left to the discretion of the charities officers. Aisha and Rose said that if people felt the voting process or the fact that balloting would take place at the GM was an issue, they should vote the motion down and a new motion could be brought to a later GM.

Sam Bumby argued that since GMs were open to anyone who could attend, there wasn’t a barrier by holding it at a GM. Richard May suggested that balloting could be done via the website, either using an OUSU system or a home-grown one.

John brought a written amendment changing the Appendix to hold voting via the website with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd-preference-based system. The amendment passed.

Following further questions regarding threshold votes and minimum floor amounts, Aisha brought a procedural motion that the question be not put (intending to bring a new motion to the next GM). The procedural motion passed.

3. Scholars’ Gowns 

Rose Hadshar explained her motion and that it didn’t make a significant change to JCR practices. Richard May asked what transactions the motion referred to; Rose and Duncan Shepherd clarified that it meant the College Meeting where the President meets with the Fellows three times a term, and that the motion did not affect the choir or similar activities. Alex Potten asked why the price difference was highlighted; Rose expressed her view that she opposed the higher cost, and for that matter that she also opposed the financial rewards for exam performance.

An amendment was brought by Aisha Simon to change Believes 1 to express the difference between the gowns, rather than labelling commoners’ gowns 'ugly'. The amendment was taken as friendly.

Dan Turner questioned whether Resolves 2 intended the JCR to oppose in general the divide between ‘scholars’ and ‘commoners’. Rose said that in this case it was purely about gowns, but that she would be bringing a motion at a later date regarding the divide in general.

Ryan Diamond brought an amendment to change Believes 2 to say that exam results should not set people apart socially, and the amendment was taken as friendly.

Aisha brought an amendment to strike Believes 2 and add a Notes saying that exam results can negatively set people apart socially. Ryan objected on the grounds that the motion was about the JCR’s beliefs. Richard called for a move to a vote, and the amendment failed.

Richard Ware opposed the motion, and suggested that some people might feel like there should be a divide. Rose disagreed strongly. Joe Spearing suggested that the financial rewards of a better career were an adequate reward for getting a first, and asked the GM to ‘indulge him’. He argued that gowns should not be a way to rank people on academic performance, and opposed the use of physical status symbols like this in general. Rupert Tottman asked if we could abolish firsts.

Claudia Freemantle said that she’d had a discussion with someone in which they mentioned that Blues people often had their own physical status symbols, and asked whether these were comparable. Georgina Wilson argued that we were conflating social and academic issues. Orla Oakey said she agreed with the principles of the motion, that whether or not the President received a first was irrelevant to the College Meeting, and that as the representative of the JCR he should wear a commoners’ gown.

Richard May called for a move to a vote, but Aisha brought a fourth amendment to strike resolves 2 and reword it in a less forceful way. Chessy suggested an alternative way that this could be accomplished, and Chessy’s amendment was accepted as friendly.

Richard May called for a move to a vote. The motion failed 32-27.

4. Hero of the JCR 

Dan Turner summarised his motivation for the motion, and recounted the story of how RIchard May had spent Christmas Day working on the Constitution 'because it was his day off'.

Flo Hardy brought an amendment to get Richard present as a thank-you and expressed a wish not to discuss the details in front of him, and it was accepted as friendly.

Richard Ware enquired as to which part of the Constitution was Richard May’s favourite; he responded that the question was like asking him to choose his favourite child.

Anna Hufton brought an amendment adding the belief “#yeswemay”, and it was accepted as friendly.

Chessy brought an amendment striking believes 4 – that the ‘heroes and villains’ section should be used liberally. It was accepted as friendly.

Flo called for a move to a vote, but Oli Johnson-Munday opposed it on the grounds that JCR Heroes & Villains should either be serious or jokey, but not both. The move-to-a-vote passed. The motion passed.

The meeting ended.