John's JCR contests room ballot changes

1 March 2008

Katie Spenceley

Deputy News Editor

St John’s College officials have angered students after making changes to the college accommodation ballot system.

Proposed alterations include the order that the ballot is drawn. In an email leaked to The Cambridge Student (TCS), St John’s College Council has stated that as of next year, priority will be given to Scholars (students who get firsts). The plans have been put forward by the College Council in an aim to reward academic endeavour.

But the college’s JCR President Thomas Chigbo has criticised the plans, saying: “I would like to make clear to you all that the JCR Committee unanimously opposes this scheme.

We are disappointed with the way the decision was taken without consultation with the JCRC or the wider student body and feel that the College has done nothing to justify the need for academic ballots.”

A meeting has been arranged with the JCR, the Senior Tutor and the Master for Friday. Chigbo told TCS he was pleased to be able to discuss the issues with the College, adding:

“We are not trying to say that every student is opposed to the room ballot changes, but there has been such widespread opposition that we have to take action. We would be a bad JCR if we didn’t do anything.”

A St. John’s student wishing to remain anonymous, told TCS: “I wouldn’t have been averse to the idea in itself but I find it a little intimidating that College sees fit to implement such a drastic change with virtually no consultation of students or the JCR at all.

“It seems to be leading to a very dangerous situation where College can feel free to do what they want without thought for what students feel.”

The new room ballot would also impact on the majority of students in the second year, who have to share their accommodation.

The anonymous informer claimed: “Even though ballot positions aren’t released until after students decide to share, people will have quite a clear idea of where their friends are positioned academically.

“This of course raises concerns that the scheme encourages scholars to stay together, segregating College social life from academic standards.”