Magdalen balls-up

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Magdalen College has forbidden students who have rusticated for medical reasons from attending its 2012 Commemoration Ball.

In an email sent to the JCR, the senior Deans said: “No student who will be out of residence at the time of the Ball will be entitled to register an account or purchase a ticket, whether as a member of the College or as a guest of a member of the College.”

The ban has angered many students. One student who has been rusticated for medical reasons expressed their discontent: “I can understand why they have made this decision, to make their lives easier with less paperwork and to prevent some rusticated students complaining that they were being treated differently to others but I can’t help feeling that I’m being punished for something that wasn’t my fault and is beyond my control.”

However, the Ball Chairman Oliver Keers insisted that the ban was in accordance with the College’s information and regulations.

The regulations state: “Students who are permitted or required to go out of residence, whether on grounds of health or for disciplinary reasons, may not enter the College or any College premises, other than for a pre-arranged meeting with a College tutor or with the written permission of the Senior Tutor or one of the Deans of Arts.”

Keers stressed that he had “no influence or comment on when or to whom the Senior Tutor or Deans Of Arts decide to give their written permission.”

Another rusticated student said: “I went out-of-residence for medical reasons and, to be honest, this period of time has already been the most difficult in my life. Consequently, being barred from an event that I was really looking forward to – an event that will be attended by all of my closest friends – for being unwell, which is something I obviously cannot control, feels like being kicked when I am down and most vulnerable.”

Dr. Alfonso Moreno, Senior Dean of Arts at Magdalen, explained the college’s decision: “Our reason, briefly, is that discriminating between individual applications by individuals seeking to attend the Ball has proved difficult, and indeed unworkable, in the past, and that the fairest and most transparent outcome may be reached by applying the same rule to every case.” He went on to say: “While we are fully aware that this method is blunt and may be unpopular, it is intended to provide maximum clarity, well ahead of time, to the otherwise nebulous and potentially contentious issue of which students can, and which cannot, return from leave to attend the Ball.”

Alumni are allowed to register an account for a ticket, which costs £170, and bring a guest, who is not a member of the college, but rusticated students are not permitted on college grounds, even as guests.

Opposition to the ban remains, as one student argued: “A ‘blanket’ rule is a discrimination process just the same as a more thorough discrimination process would be. What it gains in impersonality it loses in arbitrariness, leaving it in my opinion far more unfair.”

Meg Trainor, JCR President, said: “Whilst this is a difficult situation for all involved, the JCR is concerned about the impact the decision would have on students.”

PHOTO/ Laura Simmons

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