Queens' College embroiled in balloting uproar

Image credit: Araujojoan96

Queens' College has erupted in balloting furore once again after the emergence of an “illegal shadow ballot”.  Students have been given the ultimatum by Dean Professor Martin Dixon to decide whether to announce the names of those involved in creating the shadow ballot or to completely randomize the system of choosing their rooms for next year.  The JCR is currently presiding over the decision posed to them, the results of which will be announced on Friday.  The minutes of the JCR meeting suggest that that although the JCR will demonstrate any attempts at intimidation to the college, this won’t affect the decision concerning randomization.

In response to the decision the JCR was offered, JCR President Hope Whitehead remarked that “we don’t think this is fair on us [the JCR] or you [the student body of Queens']”.  She went on to say that the “Dean will not accept negotiation”.  Whitehead reported that the Dean has threatened “consequences down the line that would affect the entire student body” if there are any attempts at strikes or protest in response to his ruling.

After pitting students against each other, they responded in the JCR meeting on Tuesday evening, with 15 people voting in favour of randomisation and 82 voting in favour of the individuals responsible coming forward.  It has been alleged that the “illegal ballot” was just a spreadsheet without which there would be no way of knowing what rooms people had chosen until you arrived at your two minute slot to choose.  Under the current system, students don’t seem to be able to ballot together unless they opt to share a room.

Student consensus at Queens' is that the "shadow ballot" was created by a third or fourth year student.  The result of the ruling on Friday will of course not affect them and students are concerned that the Dean would not accept the identity of the creator of the shadow ballot, should they come forward.

With clear welfare concerns, Whitehead encouraged students to contact Directors of Studies regarding any disruption of their studies caused by the situation.

Queens' have also seen a counsellor step down this year whose absence was allegedly not related to students.  The lack of a replacement has left women at the College without a counsellor.  Queens' is also home to NatSci DoS, Eugene Terentjev, who infamously emailed students warning them against too much fun. 

Two years ago similar situation emerged at Queens' College after Fellows reorganised the balloting system, as reported by The Tab. At the time, to avoid the alleged "ghettoization" of staircases, students seem to have been banned from conferring with friends on where to live.  In response to this, the appointed committee released a statement saying that, “living with their friends, or knowing where their friends might be living was having a “negative” impact on student welfare.”  At the time, 84% of respondents to a JCR survey said that “living with their friends had a positive impact on their lives”.

CUSU Presidential candidates Evie Aspinall and Connor McDonald have also weighed in on the issue.

In a statement, Aspinall said: "The situation at Queens' is exactly the kind of situation where CUSU should be more involved through supporting the JCR. It's distressing that members of Queens' JCR note the Dean has not been receptive to the concerns they've raised about student welfare or financial hardships as a result of his threat. Considering the extortionate amount students at Queens' already pay, this is unacceptable. Empowering JCRs in such situations should be a priority for CUSU."

McDonald echoed similar sentiments: "A very clear example of how CUSU needs to help JCRs work together, and to empower JCRs with the information and advocacy tools they need to hold Colleges accountable.

"This is unacceptable behaviour from the Queen's fellowship. They could definitely benefit from best practice sharing from some of their neighbours."

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