Protests persist against St John’s bottle ban

New Reporter 15 January 2009

Stuart Moore, a PhD student at St John’s College, has refused to pay his Kitchen Fixed Charge in protest against the ban on wine at formal hall there.

Refusal to pay the charge was accompanied by an open letter to the master of St. John’s, Professor Christopher Dobson, detailing the reasons behind his actions.

This is the latest complaint since the ban on brining wine into hall came into place at the beginning of last term. Moore has said he will not resume payment until the college “allows us once again to bring our own choice of wine into hall.”

The college’s current policy, intended to “enhance the experience of dining in hall”, bans students from bringing their own wine into hall and provides them with the option of being served a limited amount of wine during the meal for a higher ticket price.

“It’s not the quantity of wine I object to,” Moore told TCS. “It’s more about choice…red or white is not enough. There are many, many different wines and different people have different tastes”

Moore explains the contrast to previous regulations:

“In the past, people could bring their own wine to suit their taste. Now I have to pay an extra £2.61 and run the risk of the wine not being to my taste.”

Several protests by opposing students have been made, including organised boycotts of formal hall, the creation of a Facebook group boasting over three hundred members and even a question and answer meeting with the master.

However, the recent letter is an indication that the Christmas break has done little to soothe tensions between the College Council and the student body over the matter:

“Previous objections meant some changes were made last term…but unfortunately these changes didn’t address most people’s objections” Moore said.

“I’m also disappointed that there couldn’t be more of a dialogue between the college authorities and the students. “

“The college said they wanted to reduce the amount of alcohol drunk in hall; the students responded by requesting one bottle between two, and instead the college have gone for an unpopular system.”

The policy on wine is due to be reviewed by the College Council early this term.

The full letter can be found at http://www.stuartmoore.org.uk/wineletter

Alice Baghdijan

New Reporter