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First students facing £150 trashing fines

As the finalists start finishing and prelims approach, Cherwell can report that University staff working for the Proctor’s Office are actively attempting to catch students trashing in University parks, and issuing them fines. In a comment to Cherwell, the University confirmed that three students had received such fines. A student who spoke to Cherwell was fined £150 from University Proctors in the parks of infringing regulation 3.3(1), despite the student claiming that they did not partake in any trashing. 

The incident took place on the 6th May, when the Medicine students were celebrating the end of their examinations by trashing. Employees of the University tasked with maintaining discipline were spotted roaming the parks, looking for students to catch red-handed. Students engaged in a game of cat-and-mouse, attempting to follow a University tradition whilst avoiding the hefty fines now attached.  

The student who spoke to Cherwell claimed that they were merely caught up in the chase, and were not even participating in trashing. Speaking to the publication, they said that they ‘poured roughly a tablespoon of lubricant on a friend’s head as we were leaving the park. I then put the packet of lubricant back in my pocket, before I was confronted by five proctor officers. One officer asked me to show him the packer, so retrieving it from my pocket, I handed it to him. He then proceeded to throw it on the ground behind him, and issue me the £150 fine’. 

The proctors issued the fine in accordance to regulation 3.3(1), that states that ‘no student member shall, in any place or thoroughfare to which members of the general public have access within six miles of Carfax, throw, pour, spray, apply or use any thing or substance in a way which is intended, or is likely, (a) to cause injury to any person, or (b) to cause damage to, or defacement or destruction of, any property, or to cause litter’. 

The student paid the fine on the 19 May along with a request to appeal the fine stating, ‘I did not however, as I explained to him, cause injury to anyone, damage any property (as the water-based lube was on his hair and washes out instantly), or litter’. The student claims that their actions did ‘not satisfy’ any of the criteria listed above. Therefore, the student believes that they should ‘not face a punishment’ and that the ‘fine should be reimbursed’ to them. 

The student fined for trashing was in University Parks where many other students were being trashed as it was the day on which many medical students finished their exams. The student notes that many of these students avoided fines by ‘sprinting past’ officers who ‘seemed aggravated’ at their actions. 

Whilst the student requested an appeal as they claimed that they were not intending to do any actions listed in the clause, the appeal was refused. The student claimed that ‘the officer had littered in front of me’. However, in the rejection of the appeal the University told the student that the behaviour was ‘likely to cause litter’.  

Exam season brings the return of the tradition dating back to the 1980s. Senior Proctor Professor Jane Mellor previously said to Cherwell that ‘throwing food and other materials in exam celebrations is wasteful and disrespectful. We know that our students are committed to sustainability and urge them to extend this to their exam celebrations this year’.

Whilst the practice has been officially banned for a few years already, it was reported by Cherwell earlier this year of the University’s now planned to enforce fines for students engaged in ‘trashing’, considering the action ‘antisocial behaviour’. This message has been reinforced on the university website with a page dedicated to ‘Exams: Celebrate Sustainably’. 

The website states that fines will be ‘strictly enforced this year, as a breach of the University’s Code of Discipline’. Failure to pay the fine will result in ‘further disciplinary action’.

The University has instead compiled suggestions for students looking to commemorate the end of their exams. One suggestion is that students should ‘have a night out’ and ‘make the most of this opportunity to celebrate with your friends’. Another that students should ‘enjoy Oxford’s outdoor spaces’ but make sure to take any ‘rubbish home with you’. 

Many JCRs still provide students with biodegradable ‘trashing’ equipment, despite University policy now meaning students run financial risk when ‘trashing’.  All money collected from the ‘trashing’ fines goes to the student hardship fund, which aims to assist students at the University who are struggling with financial difficulties during their course. 

Image credit: Richard Nias via Creative Commons

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