2015 General Meeting

Date of Meeting

2015 General Meeting

Date: Sunday 3rd week, Hilary 2015 (2015-02-01)


1. Standing Policy Amendments

a) Less Economically Developed Countries’ Debt [Calum Jacobs]

This JCR notes:

  1. Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) owe certain More Economically Developed Countries (MEDCs) staggering amounts of money – in the region of $4 trillion.
  2. The amount of aid given per year for development purposes by MEDCs is approximately $160 billion; a small percentage of the debt owed.
  3. The IMF highlights 12 countries it says are at high risk of not being able to pay their debts: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Grenada, Haiti, Kiribati, Laos, Maldives, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tajikistan, Tonga and Yemen.
  4. The UN estimates that a child dies every 6 seconds because of debt repayments.
  5. Debts have been cancelled before, for example for Britain and Germany after the Second World War.
  6. The people of most of these countries had no say in how their debt was run up; it is often by corrupt, unelected dictators and rapacious asset-stripping of foreign governments and corporations.
  7. That debt in LEDCs stunts their economic development and entrenches their economic inequality with MEDCs.
  8. ‘LEDCs’ and ‘MEDCs’ refer to countries that fit the UN definition of these terms in 2015.
  9. These statistics were accurate as of the period 2012-2015.

This JCR believes:

  1. It is a principle of justice to cancel these debts in acknowledgement of many MEDCs’ exploitation of some LEDCs.
  2. It is a moral necessity to cancel these debts when children and adults are dying.
  3. That there is an economic imperative to cancel the debts that make these countries slower to economically develop and play a full role in the world economy.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To support the cancellation of LEDC debt.
  2. To add the preceding parts of this motion to Standing Policy under the title ‘Less Economically Developed Countries’ Debt’.

Amendment 1 [Tushar Kelkar]: Accepted as Friendly

Strike Notes 4.

Amendment 2 [Tushar Kelkar]: Accepted as Friendly

Strike Notes 3.

b) Living Out Grants [Richard May]

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Living Out Grants’.
  2. That College no longer provide living out grants.

This JCR believes:

  1. That Standing Policy items about things that don’t exist are fairly pointless.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike the Standing Policy item ‘Living Out Grants’.

c) Lockers [Richard May]

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Lockers’.
  2. That the JCR does not fine students £1/day for missing keys.
  3. That we currently have no idea where the keys are.
  4. That new lockers will be purchased in the future, potentially with padlocks rather than keys.

This JCR believes:

  1. That this Standing Policy item does not reflect current practices.
  2. That current practices may well change when we have new lockers, making this item doubly outdated.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike the Standing Policy item ‘Lockers’.

d) Nightbus [Richard May]

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Nightbus’.
  2. That the Nightbus no longer exists.

This JCR believes:

  1. That Standing Policy items about things that don’t exist are fairly pointless.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike the Standing Policy item ‘Nightbus’.

e) Payment of JCR Members [Richard May]

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Payment of JCR Officers’.
  2. That the new Constitution includes binding provisions to this effect.

This JCR believes:

  1. That this item of Standing Policy needlessly duplicates part of the Constitution.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike ‘Payment of JCR Officers’ from Standing Policy.

f) Vegetable Garden [Richard May]

This JCR notes:

  1. The Standing Policy item ‘Vegetable Garden’.
  2. That neither the JCR nor College grow their own food.
  3. That students living at Jowett or in houses are extremely unlikely to grow their own food.
  4. That the item contains no resolves, and does not mandate the JCR or its members to do anything.

This JCR believes:

  1. That the chance of students who live out, College, or the JCR growing their own food is negligible.
  2. That this item of Standing Policy has no effect due to its lack of resolves and the impossibility of implementing it.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To strike the Standing Policy item ‘Vegetable Garden’.

2. Welfare Week [Tom Posa & Amy Ford]

This JCR notes:

  1. That Welfare Week is happening in 5th week of this term
  2. That last year, Anna and Molly got £400 passed by GM for welfare week

This JCR believes:

  1. That Welfare Week is an important part of the Hilary Term calendar for the JCR.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To pass £400 to the Drs WHO to fund Welfare Week 2015.

Amendment 1 [John Clark-Maxwell]: Accepted as Friendly

Add Resolves 2: "To consider this ordinary expenditure in future."

3. Punts [John Clark-Maxwell]

This JCR notes:

  1. The JCR has historically rented a punt to be used in Trinity Term.
  2. All JCR members pay equally for the punt.
  3. All JCR members may book the punt, with a time limit of two hours per booking.
  4. Booking the punt is free, because the punt has already been paid for by compulsory levy.
  5. When rented directly from the company, punts typically cost £5 per person per hour.
  6. The Magdalen Bridge Boathouse have quoted us £1416 for a punt from 0th week.
  7. This means a levy of £3.93 per person.

This JCR believes:

  1. Punting is excellent fun.
  2. £3.93 is not very much to pay for easy use of a punt for a whole term.
  3. The system for booking punts is fair and allows JCR members to use the punt fairly often.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To book a punt for use by JCR members in trinity term from 0th.
  2. To charge a compulsory levy to pay for the punt.
  3. To organize punt usage in a similar manner to last year.

Amendment 1 [John Clark-Maxwell]: Withdrawn

Add Resolves 4: "To consider punting as ordinary expenditure in future."

Amendment 2 [John Clark-Maxwell]: Failed

Add Resolves 4: "There will be a compulsory levy for the punt each year. This will be considered ordinary expenditure."

4. General Election Voting [Calum Jacobs]

This JCR notes:

  1. There is a general election on 7th May 2015, which you must be registered for by 20th April in order to vote.
  2. The government recently introduced the Individual Electoral Registration, which means that students can no longer be registered in blocks by their halls of residence.
  3. NSU and OUSU are running campaigns to encourage more people to vote.
  4. It is National Voter Registration Day on 5th February.

This JCR believes:

  1. It is important for students to have a voice in national politics, and voting is one of the best ways to make our voices heard.
  2. The Individual Electoral Registration should be reformed so that students can be registered in blocks as before.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To mandate the JCR Committee to raise awareness of voter registration and to encourage it.

Amendment 1 [Dan Turner]: Failed

Add Resolves 2: "To add the JCR’s opposition to Individual Voter Registration to Standing Policy."

5. Heidi White [Tom Bird]

This JCR notes:

  1. Mrs Heidi M White.
  2. Banana bread; scones; pasta bake; toad in the hole; and other delicious, delightful delicacies dolloped, doled, and delivered.
  3. Mrs Heidi M White works a nine-hour shift on three days of the week, during which she has given up her break so that Pantry will never have to close.
  4. Mrs Heidi M White also works an eleven-hour shift on one day of the week, during which she has been forbidden to give up her break.

This JCR believes:

  1. Mrs Heidi M White is nothing short of heroic.
  2. Mrs Heidi M White would be very pleased to have this opinion conveyed to her in song.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To confer upon Mrs Heidi M White the title of ‘Hero of the JCR’.
  2. To mandate the President to inform her of such in song.

Amendment 1 [Lizzie Hensman]: Accepted as Friendly

Add Resolves 3: "To mandate the VP to film the song and put it on Facebook or Youtube or something."

Amendment 2 [Tom Bird]: Passed

Add Resolves 4: "To confer upon Dani, Mags, Maureen, Denise, Jardel, and Richard the title of Hero of the JCR."

Amendment 3 [Duncan Shepherd]: Accepted as Friendly

Strike Resolves 3

Add Resolves 5: "To purchase a recordable card of Duncan singing for each of the staff mentioned in Resolves 4."

6. Tiny Bible [Darcey Murphy & Rebecca Hannon]

This JCR notes:

  1. The production of a non-fiction short film called Tiny Bible, focusing on dealing with eating disorders and the stigma around them.
  2. That the film crew is comprised mainly of recent Oxford graduates.
  3. That Suzy Shepherd, a Balliol undergraduate, is involved with the production and distribution of this film.
  4. That Tiny Bible will be shown at the Oxford Union.
  5. That Student Minds, a charity that deals with mental health issues amongst students, is involved with this production and will run a discussion forum following the screening.
  6. That if the production is successful, Student Minds plan to take the film and discussion panels to other universities.
  7. That the producers have asked for donations, and that these will be used to cover production costs.
  8. That the Drama Society accounts contain around £2000.
  9. That contributions from the Drama Society to Tiny Bible would be a donation, rather than an investment.

This JCR believes:

  1. That this film will help to address the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
  2. That because of the involvement of a Balliol undergraduate, it would be appropriate for the Drama Society to support the production.
  3. That supporting this production would be a good use of Drama Society funds.

This JCR resolves:

  1. To donate £100 to Tiny Bible from the Drama Society funds.

7. Charities Motion [Emily Webb & George Badger]

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 dissent wherever possible.

Amendment 1 [Max Dalton]: Accepted as Friendly

Add point 8 to Appendix 1: "That the rules on campaigning for charity should be the same as those for committee elections, with the posters placed in the JCR replaced with the paragraphs submitted for the charity."

Amendment 2 [Alex McKenzie]: Accepted as Friendly

Change point 4 in Appendix 1 to: "Each member of the JCR can submit a 1st, 2nd, and a 3rd preference. These can be for between 1 and 3 charities."

Amendment 3 [Richard Ware]: Passed

Add point 9 to appendix: "The time window between the posting of the choice of charities and the opening of the voting must include a GM."

Rent Discussions

The upcoming discussions about rent increases with College will be considered, as well as the stance we wish the JCR to take.

Appendix 1 – Charities Ballot Procedure

  1. The charities officers will send out the charities nominated together with relevant web-links, including a paragraph on the charity, prior to the ballot.
  2. The ballot for the charities will be conducted on the website.
  3. The ballot will be open for at least 24 hours.
  4. Each member of the JCR can submit a 1st, a 2nd, and a 3rd preference charities or charity.
  5. A first preference vote scores 3, a second preference vote scores 2, and a third preference vote scores 1.
  6. The money will be divided between the charities in proportion to the number of points scored. 
  7. In the case of the charities with the least points being proportionately allocated very small amounts of money, it shall be at the charity officers’ discretion to choose to donate nothing to those charities, and carry the money over into next year’s pot.


The meeting was chaired by Duncan Shepherd (JCR President) and Richard May (JCR Secretary), and minuted by Richard May. 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).

Living Out Grants, Lockers, Nightbus, and Payment of JCR Officers were passed with no objections ("nem con").

1(a) Less Economically Developed Countries’ Debt

It was asked where the statistics had come from. After some clarification, there was an amendment by Tushar Kelkar to strike Notes 4, as the statistic is old and outdated. The amendment was accepted as friendly.

Tush Kelkar asked why Greece was missing from the list of countries unable to pay their debts. An amendment was proposed to strike Notes 3, on the grounds that it was unclear whether the statistic referred to LEDCs, and in any case there were 15 countries in the list rather than the stated twelve. The amendment was accepted as friendly.

Matt Lynch asked what the aim of ideological items like this was if they did not directly affect the JCR or its members; Duncan clarified that it was used by the affiliations officers to vote at OUSU council.

The motion passed.

1(f) Vegetable Garden

Rose argued that it was important to highlight the importance of growing your own food, that the JCR should support College turning an area of the back quad into an allotment and that students living out often grow some of their own food. Flo Hardy argued that Standing Policy made little difference to students living out, and that it was impractical to grow your own food in College.

There was a call to move to a vote. The motion passed.

2. Welfare Week

Ross asked what the money was used for; Tom clarified that it was used for events run by Welfare Subcommittee throughout the week. Mike Wrathall asked whether teabags would be bought out of the £400, and whether Welfare Subcommittee would prefer Pantry to supply them. Duncan clarified that it was an unwritten rule of Pantry that they gave free teabags to Welfare Subcommittee.

John brought an amendment to make welfare week ordinary expenditure. Tom said that he had previously discussed this with Richard May, and that he felt the money might change depending on plans. John clarified that ordinary expenditure did not mean the sum of money was fixed.

The amendment was taken as friendly.

There was a call to move to a vote. The motion passed.

3. Punts

Rose asked why this motion was brought every year. John brought an amendment to add Resolves 4, to considering punting ordinary expenditure for the JCR. Dan expressed opposition to taking the amendment as friendly, on the grounds that the debate over punting was important. It was asked whether the amendment would increase the cost of being a JCR member. John said that theoretically yes, but in practice it would not since this charge was passed every year. Max pointed out that the motion did not allow the Treasurer to charge the levy automatically. John withdrew his amendment, and submitted a new one stating that there would be a compulsory levy for the punt each year.

There was a call to move to a vote. The amendment failed.

Chessy asked why the levy would be compulsory as opposed to optional; John explained that the levy would have to be charged two terms in advance, so that a decision could be reached on whether to book a punt.

There was a call to move to a vote. The motion passed.

4. General Election Voting

Duncan explained that about 40% of those in the ward have not registered to vote locally, and that 90% of the population in this area are students. Rose asked whether the motion was intended to support voter registration everywhere; Calum clarified that it was.

Matt asked whether the JCR had an obligation to encourage people to vote. Calum said that he felt he would personally encourage people to vote, but that he was unsure whether the JCR as a whole felt this need. Tom Bird asked whether the JCR would encourage voter registration anyway, and it was clarified that this was likely to happen. Jack Wheatley expressed a view that since Dan would encourage registration regardless of the motion, the debate was pointless.

Dan Turner brought an amendment to add the JCR’s opposition to individual voter registration to Standing Policy. Tom Posa objected to the amendment being taken as friendly. Tom Bird argued that the amendment was entirely beyond the scope of the motion and was effectively hijacking the original motion, and Alex McKenzie expressed his agreement.

Tom Posa felt that it was unwise to have the motion stand or fall on a potentially controversial amendment. Dan Turner explained that he felt that the entire cause of the original motion was individual voter registration and thus it was a related issue, an argument with which Tom Bird strongly disagreed. 

There was a call to move to a vote on the amendment. The amendment failed.

There was a call to move to a vote on the motion as a whole. The motion passed.

5. Heidi White

It was asked whether Duncan had a song in mind (he explained that he did, and it was Mandy), and whether the song would be recorded; an amendment was brought by Lizzie to mandate the Vice-President to film and upload the song.

The amendment was taken as friendly.

Rose asked why it was Heidi, and Tom Bird said that he planned to add the other JCR staff at a later date. Tom brought an amendment to add a fourth resolves, conferring the title of Hero of the JCR upon all the JCR staff. The amendment was taken as friendly.

Duncan yielded the chair to Richard May, since it was felt he was no longer impartial. Duncan brought an amendment to strike resolves three and buy singing cards for everyone except Heidi, who would be sung to in person. The amendment was taken as friendly.

There was a call to move to a vote. The motion passed, and Duncan resumed the chair.

6. Tiny Bible

There was a call to move to a vote. The motion passed.

7. Charities Motion

It was explained that the motion had only changed slightly from the previous one, with the primary differences being the method of voting (which would now take place via the website). Chessy asked why the preference points were worth 3, 2 and 1 rather than the previous 5, 2 and 1. Richard Ware asked whether there was a means to respond to the list of charities once it had been sent out. Emily said that there was not, and that they hoped issues like this would emerge during the vote itself instead.

It was asked what restrictions would be made on campaigning; Emily said that the only material envisaged was the email mentioned in the motion. Alex McKenzie asked how much money qualified as ‘too little’ for a charity to receive a share; Emily responded that it was deliberately left vague on the grounds that the charities officers didn’t know how it would turn out. Aisha said that they had wanted to keep the motion positive.

Richard May asked whether the motion was intended to allow multiple votes for the same charity, and requested that the motion be amended to clarify this. Emily said that while it was possible, they did not want it used in such a way and thus the motion did not highlight it. Dan asked whether in practice you had six points that could be assigned to charities if you wished; it was concluded that this was effectively true (subject to the 3 / 2 / 1 restriction).

There was a discussion over controversial charities – the consequences if a charity could no longer be donated to (it would be discussed, and the money potentially redistributed) and whether or not paragraphs in opposition could be submitted (they could not, but Duncan clarified that information could be distributed via emails or GM motions). Richard Ware asked about this last response, questioning whether there would always be a GM between the announcing of candidates and the close of voting to enable motions of this form. Emily responded that that was not their intention to prevent negative GM motions.

Max brought an amendment to clarify that the campaigning rules were the same as the election rules. The amendment was taken as friendly.

Alex brought an amendment to clarify that the same charity could be selected multiple times. The amendment was taken as friendly.

Richard Ware submitted an amendment to require a GM between the opening and closing of voting. The amendment was not taken as friendly. Chessy said that she felt the amendment was extremely important to ensure that charities with unpleasant associations could be stricken. There was a discussion on alternative ways this could be accomplished while maintaining positivity, but no clear conclusion was reached.

There was a call to move to a vote. John opposed this, on the grounds that many people still had things to say. The procedural motion failed.

Richard May said that the amendment assumed that the JCR’s attitudes towards GMs would not change, and asked how this system would work in the long term. John said that he felt the details should be included in the handover pack, that he felt the charities officers should be given the power to administer the system as need be, and that no perfect process could arise. Anna said that she felt the amendment was reasonable, and that it was unreasonable to oppose the motion in the hope of a perfect system.

Jack asked whether there was a means for charity-striking motions brought to the GM to be struck. Duncan clarified that there was.

Chessy said that while we can’t assume the attitudes of the JCR will remain constant in the future, it was still vital to ensure that there was a means to ensure that JCR members’ money would not go to charities supporting genuinely abhorrent things. Alex said that it would be likely that the charities officers would make it clear that they could be contacted regarding unpleasant charities.

There was a call to move to a vote.  The amendment passed.

There was a call to move to a vote. The motion passed.

Rent Discussions

We discussed the direction the JCR wished to take in the upcoming rent discussions with the College. This took place in camera, meaning that no minutes were taken.

The meeting ended.