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Oriel liberation referendum fails

A referendum held at Oriel College for the creation of three liberation officer roles has failed to pass. Although a majority of students voted in favour of the referendum, the question failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority.

The referendum proposed replacing the role of Equal Opportunities Officer on the Oriel JCR committee with a Women’s officer, BME Officer and Disabilities Officer. It also encouraged only those who self-identify as members of those liberation groups to vote in these elections.

The vote was held on Friday of Fifth Week. In total, 137 votes were cast, 84 in favour of the referendum and 53 against. Overall the turnout of the vote was 41.8%. According to Section 10(D) of the Oriel JCR constitution in a referendum, “The motion proposed by the referendum must be passed by a two-thirds supermajority of those voting.”

The Oriel JCR President, Kate Welsh, admitted she was “obviously disappointed about the result” in an email sent out to the Oriel JCR on Saturday morning.  Peter Corden, the Oriel Returning Officer, described the turnout as “fairly disappointing” in the email to Oriel JCR members which contained the results of the ballot.

The full text of the referendum read:

‘This JCR would introduce three new positions to the JCR Committee: Women’s Officer, BME Officer and Disabilities Officer.

The role of the BME Officer would be to represent the views of and support members of the JCR who identify as belonging to a black and/or ethnic community.

The role of the Disabilities Officer would be to represent the views of and support members of the JCR with physical or mental disabilities, specific learning difficulties or long term health conditions.

The role of the Women’s Officer would be to represent the views of and support women of the JCR that includes but is not limited to those who self-identify or partially identify as a woman, who have a complex gender identity that includes woman, and who have a gender identity that includes feminine.

While it would not be part of the constitution, when elections for these positions come around, we would encourage only those who self-identify as a member of the liberation group that that officer represents vote in that particular election. For example, we would request that only those that identify as BME vote in the election for the BME Officer.

Should the referendum pass, the position of Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Representative will cease to exist when it next comes up for election and the position of LGBTQ Representative will become fully elected.”

The referendum was not without controversy. The vote itself had to be delayed from its initial date on Wednesday of 5th week, following problems with the BallotBin voting system which the Oriel JCR uses.


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