SOMERVILLE COLLEGE’S JCR has voted to purchase a tortoise, with the motion passing by a vote of 17 to 7 at Sunday evening’s JCR meeting.
The motion also calls for the creation of two elected tortoise keeper positions, who “will be responsible for feeding, cleaning, poking and general interaction with the tortoise.” The initial cost is expected to be £350.
William Truefitt, second-year English student at Somerville, commented, “Who doesn’t love tortoises? They’re dynamic, charming, and give great chat. My only problem is that I feel tortoises are being somewhat sidelined as a species. They’re capable of so much more than just being semi-ironic JCR motions and pets. I’m sure that in Oxford, of all places, there must be some sort of ‘tortoise upwards mobility front’. They should get involved.”
The tortoise’s name is set to be decided by a future JCR vote. Somerville undergraduate Ella Waldman suggested a name: “Although Somerville may well choose a female tortoise, in keeping with our strong female history, according to my extensive experience of reptile gender identification I don’t think there should be too much problem in calling the tortoise Stuart. It’s a good, honest name.”
Somerville considered a range of animals before deciding on a tortoise, including a parrot, fish, cat, and wallabies. JCR Vice-President & Treasurer Zoe Fannon revealed, “We did consider whether a polar bear might be more appropriate to Somerville’s northern location.”
The timing of the JCR vote gave pause to one student. “Is it somewhat worrying that we’ve passed a college motion welcoming slow-moving tortoise flesh the same night that a long-standing discussion of introducing meat-free mondays was resoundingly rejected by the MCR?”
Somerville may see fit to enter their tortoise into Oxford’s traditional tortoise races. Harriet Soper, a third year English student at Corpus, said, “Foxe and Oldham, Corpus’s beloved tortoises, are quivering in their tiny shells. We wish their JCR luck.”
Meanwhile, former Corpus tortoise-keeper Alexander Coupe commented, “We see this as an aggressive move from Somerville College – as if giving the world Margaret Thatcher wasn’t enough.”
However, it may be some time before Somerville poses a challenge in the race; the baby tortoise is a couple of years away from growing into racing size.
Last year’s race was won by Zoom! of Worcester. Past winners include Jesus’ Tilly and Foxe of Corpus. Other members of the Testudinidae family residing in Oxford include Mr. T (Brasenose), Foxe and Oldham (Corpus), Percy (Univ), Frederick (Lincoln), Mackie (Regent’s Park), and Turtle (Christ Church). Wadham voted to purchase a tortoise last Michaelmas; its name is yet to be announced.