Edited 22/10/20 at 14:55 to include the President of Oriel MCR’s statement.
At their first week Michaelmas General Assembly, the Oriel MCR voted against the introduction of the positions of a BAME, Women’s, and Disability MCR Representative. The MCR then further voted to abolish the prior role of an Equalities and Diversities Representative. In addition, the MCR voted in favour of the position of a Mature Student’s Representative.
At the General Meeting, which took place on Sunday the 11th of October, the Oriel MCR President presented a motion that would have introduced representatives of various marginalised groups into the MCR’s Ordinary Committee. The Motion was intended to replace the existing position of an Equalities and Diversities Representative; the MCR voted first on the appointment of the new positions, and then on the abolition of the existing role.
The 38 members present voted first against the creation of the position of BAME Representative, then of Women’s Representative. The MCR voted in favour of the position Mature Student’s Representative, which was then followed by the rejection of the position of Disability Representative.
Before the vote, MCR positions included an International Representative and an LGBTQ Representative, to which members were elected at the General Meeting. Other non-executive positions elected at the meeting included Social Secretaries, a Welfare Secretary, a Bar Manager and an Oriel Talks Coordinator.
Prior to the meeting, the MCR President was sent a letter signed anonymously by eleven BAME members, raising various points of criticism regarding elements of the motion, including the potential of creating “ghettos” within the community.
Speaking to The Flete, a member of the Oriel MCR, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated that the President’s intention was to create more support for minority groups with more diverse roles with the motion. They emphasised that the MCR’s committee would try to get an E&D Representative back as soon as possible, and that it was not the committee’s intention to abolish it. Actively voting members, furthermore, represented 32 members out of an MCR of over 200, with the source stating “that’s not the community or committee I know”.
When contacted for comment, the President of Oriel MCR gave the following statement:
“As President, I would first like to emphasise that the Committee is dedicated to ensuring that every single student who joins our community feels a full and welcome part of the Oriel MCR. The events of our first General Assembly of term are not a step back from that goal, which I can say with full confidence is shared by every member of my committee, and the MCR students I am proud to represent. I would encourage any Oriel MCR student who wants to raise any issue, to talk to either myself, our welfare officers, or indeed anyone on the Committee, who are always open to discuss any matter with students with the utmost care and understanding.
The proposals to create these positions were submitted with the intention of replacing the Equalities & Diversity Officer role with a team of representatives better able to listen to the views of all of our members. During the discussion around the creation of these positions, MCR members expressed views both for and against the proposals, and ultimately the motions were not passed. As mentioned in the article, the proposal to create a BAME rep was both supported and opposed by BAME MCR members present at the Assembly.
The process of improving/replacing the E&D role is an ongoing and interactive one, and we the Executive Committee will take this opportunity to listen to and engage with all our members as we continue that process.
The President of the Middle Common Room of Oriel College”
The results of the relevant votes are specified below:
- 9 in favour
- 17 against
- 7 abstensions
- 13 in favour
- 14 against
- 2 abstentions
Mature Student’s Rep:
- 22 in favour
- 2 against
- 2 abstentions
- 13 in favour
- 15 against
- 5 abstentions
Image: Andrew Shiva, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0