EXCLUSIVE: Outrage as Exeter College to charge for oxygen use
Students at Exeter College have reacted with anger to news that their college will charge them over £100 per year in “air clearance charges”.
An email from the college’s Domestic Bursar told students that, as of Trinity, a “small compulsory oxygen fee of £45.29 will be added to your termly bill.”“This charge will make sure you are inhaling the best air in the city. It will allow us to buy equipment to pump fresh air into communal areas including the library and JCR.”
“We are fully committed to supporting your right to breathe and want to invest as much capital in it as we can,” the email added.
Students who fail to pay the charge will be provided with gas masks to ensure they do not breathe the same air as those who have paid, in a move condemned by the University’s Labour Club as “discrimination based on wealth”.
“We cannot breathe easy at this news, and will be behind Exeter students all the way,” a statement from the club’s co-chairs said. “Air is the opium of the masses!”
The latest decision comes after JCR members boycotted the college’s Hall in protest at the “extortionate” catering charge, believed to be the highest in Oxford. Tom Rutland, OUSU President, said charging for oxygen was “staggeringly unf-air” and claimed it was “enough to take your breath away”.
Students still in Oxford for the vacation launched a poster campaign against the charge late on Monday. The college’s front quad is now filled with posters bearing slogans such as “INHALATION NOT JUST FOR THE VACATION!” and “nobody nose how we suffer”.
Ben Dover, a PPE fresher at the college, said he would be “at the forefront of the protests”. Stan Dupp, a third year Medic, is the campaign’s press officer. ‘There is a lung, hard road ahead of us in fighting for our right to breathe for free, but we will get college to back down,” he said.
Not all students were angry at the news. One anonymous fresher said: “I see this as an example of free market principles in action. In the strongly lefty atmosphere we have here in Oxford, I think the move is a breath of fresh air.”
The email from the college was dated April 1st and was sent before 12pm.