Queens' bop fiasco

Amy Blackburn 15 November 2007

An announcement that a planned bop would be cancelled at Queens’ College resulted in a meeting of the JCR on Tuesday, heaving with angry students.

The serious nature of the meeting was underlined by the fact that proceedings were attended not only by large numbers of students, but also by the college’s Senior Tutor, Murray Millgate.

A breakdown in communications between staff and students meant that the JCR only learned of the decision to cancel the bop on Monday afternoon.

Martin Dixon, Dean of Queen’s, told the JCR that Friday’s ent would not go ahead as planned because of an incident involving a fire extinguisher, set off near Cripps Court over the weekend.

These reasons were passed on to the Queen’s student population in an email sent out by the JCR.

“It was explained that cancelling ents appeared the most effective way of demonstrating to students that a climate of disrespect will not be tolerated by the College,” the email read.

It continued: “The decision was prompted by the setting off of a fire extinguisher on EE staircase over the weekend. This followed a number of other disruptive incidents earlier in term.”

The move to punish some individuals through the cancellation of an ent has met with widespread disapproval from the student body and the JCR.

However, the delay in informing the JCR about the Dean’s decision meant that the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting had to be radically reshuffled at the last minute.

“I think I know why most of you are here”, said Queens’ JCR President Daniel Jalalpour to the packed bar.

“So, we have condensed the other things we were going to talk about,” he added.

JCR Vice-President Sean Warren added that he was not happy with Dean’s decision to punish the many for the actions of just a few students.

“One of the issues we have to bring up on a longer time-scale is that nobody agrees with collective punishments”, he commented.

Students had been told that the decision to cancel the bop could be overturned if they were able to “present convincing evidence of a change in the attitude of students towards the college by the end of the Open Meeting on Tuesday evening.”

As a result, the JCR drafted a petition to present to college authorities on Wednesday morning. By the end of the open meeting, the petition had been signed by around 120 Queens’ students.

Reading from the petition, Jalalpour said: “The JCR notes that recent events have been contrary to an atmosphere of respect and understanding”.

“We have done as much as we can so far”, he continued. “Opening up communication is a long term process.”

“It would be irresponsible of us as a JCR committee to engage in hostilities. If people want stronger action to follow, it will. We are here to represent you.”

Jalalpour went on to detail the moves the Queens’ JCR is taking to try and resolve the problems between the students and college authorities.

These include putting together a family-tree style diagram entitled “How the College Works”, detailing the various committees that make college decisions, along with who sits on them and any JCR representation.

The JCR have also organised College Union meetings, in which they are to meet with the MCR committee, the Vice President, the Senior Tutor and other tutors to put together motions that are later sent to the governing body.

Queens’ Senior Tutor, Murray Millgate, also expressed his “concern” at the difficulties arising between Queens’ students and the college authorities.

“All that’s going on is this problem”, he said. “My job is to be a representative of you guys, not a representative of the college. I think we’re on the same side.”

At the time of going to press, Queens’ students were still awaiting a decision regarding the reinstatement of their bop .

Amy Blackburn