The Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) is intending to help disadvantaged people in Oxfordshire by launching a partnership with a local charity.
President Joe Cooke said this week that the once controversial society is “getting more involved” in the local community and intends to establish an official charity partnership before the end of term.
“I really want to formalise the charitable role that OUCA plays not only in the University community but also in Oxford as a whole,” Cooke said. “Last term, we took part in a tree planting regeneration programme in East Oxford, but I think it’s important that we do a bit more than that now. We shouldn’t be changing our charity commitment each term; we need to stick with something. So as President, I’ve decided to organise an official charity partnership with OUCA … we hope this will lead to numerous benefits for the local community.”
A South Oxford-based charity which works with children with special needs is currently in negotiations with OUCA. Cooke said: “I’d prefer not to state which charity it is right now, because we haven’t signed the contract of sponsorship yet.”
He added: “We had been organising a partnership with another charity before this, but it fell through. Unfortunately, they decided they didn’t want to be associated with a political organisation. If this new partnership goes through, I’m going to pass a new rule so that a certain percentage of proceeds from Port and Policy go to charity.”
Cooke strongly denies that the partnership is a publicity stunt: “We haven’t contacted the press at all about this. It would actually make my life easier just to do this quietly without any press attention, because then I could get the charity rules established more quickly. This is by no means a publicity stunt and we would almost prefer it if the press did not cover it at present.”
The President was recently spotted being followed by a TV crew. However, he asserts that the media attention is “completely unrelated” to his charitable endeavours: “That filming was concerned with the Oxbridge Boat race; they filmed several members of OUCA and it really had nothing to do with this charity project. It’s true that I’m doing a TV programme with the same people over the summer but, again, that has nothing to do with this charity.”
One student said of the proposals: “I suppose I ought to be cynical about it, but I think it’s a positive step forward for OUCA and will probably help dispel their scandalous reputation. Hopefully, this means we’ve seen the last of the stereotypical OUCA member who spends his time wallowing in expensive port and masturbating over portraits of Margaret Thatcher.”
OUSU VP Charities and Community Daniel Lowe said: “I encourage any society to engage in charitable work as much as they can, whether this is through fundraising or volunteering. Oxford RAG offers support and resources to any club or society looking to get involved in charity.”
“It would be overly cynical to brand this proposal as an image makeover from the outset. Such a judgement should be reserved until it is seen how the society champions its charitable activity, if at all.”
However, not all students have been convinced by OUCA’s altruism. One second-year French student said: “It sounds pretty dubious to be honest. Of course, doing good things for the community is always a positive thing, but do these charities really want to be associated with an organisation that has become notorious for making racist and sexist comments in the past?”