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Univ JCR votes against motion to limit ‘reckless’ spending

University College JCR has come under fire from members after a motion that would have limited club or society leaders’ ability to spend their budget failed to pass.

It followed a lengthy debate on the motion that was reportedly filled with “vitirol”, with members of the JCR executive having to quiet the room on several occasions. The failure to pass the motion follows bitter criticism on Oxfess, as a ‘meme war’ started between those for and against the spending checks.

Cherwell understands that during a netball social, which took place in second week this term, the Univ netball captain spent £177 on cocktails in All Bar One – using the netball club’s budget. Though the expense did not exceed the club’s budget, some JCR members have used it as an example of how easily Univ’s “rare” system  – which allows each club leader to spend their budget without much oversight – can be abused.

According to JCR meeting minutes obtained by Cherwell, the motion would have introduced several key amendments that would require the reimbursement of club expenditures more than £75 to be unanimously approved by the treasurer, secretary, and president of the JCR.

The amendments further mandated that if the reimbursement wasn’t unanimously approved, it would be voted on as a motion at the next JCR meeting. Previously, the standing order included few limitations on club heads’ spending powers. The most significant was the treasurer’s ability to veto any reimbursement, even if it was agreed upon by the JCR.

A member of the JCR executive explained: “The point [of the motion] is making people aware that they have responsibility when they get specific allocations from the JCR in order to spend that money in an appropriate way.

“If people have a budget of £300 then you find that you don’t need £300, that doesn’t mean you are completely warranted to go and spend it the way you like it.”

As to the practicality of the motion, a member of the JCR executive said: “About 70% of what [the treasurer] has reimbursed this term has been under £75 pounds, so we are actually talking about a very small number of requests.”

However, after considerable dissent by members of the JCR and complaints of “parenting”, the motion was eventually amended to read: “The budget may be reviewed by the VP/treasurer in conjunction with committee members, sports captains, and societies in Hilary term to discuss which allocations need amending. Any proposed changes will be voted on by the JCR.”

A non-binding vote was held on the original motion – which failed 17 votes for and 21 against. A recent case involving a University College netball team social soon came to represent “extreme” and “unnecessary” spending by club leaders. University JCR President Maninder Sachdev told Cherwell that the netball team’s night out was not the direct cause of the motion, rather the motion “arose from wider concerns regarding expenditure.”

Sachdev continued: “The JCR executive committee do not have a problem with societies using their allocated budget on socials. The intention of the motion was to introduce a system which would ensure that the JCR money is not spent in an irresponsible way, and to start a discussion about transparency and accountability for JCR expenditure.”

Nevertheless, the netball team’s spending became the focus of a wider critique of the issue. One of the many subsequent Oxfess comments read:  “That £175 could have gone to better use rather than down the throats of five posh rich girls. #justsaying.” Univ JCR IT Rep, Conrad Will, told Cherwell: “What’s happened today on Oxfess, though, is completely unacceptable on both sides and it brings the whole College into disrepute.”

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