Worcester Dean threatens collective punishment

College News News

The Dean of Worcester College resorted to threats of collective punishment over the weekend following damage to the College’s cricket pitch.

Dr Ben Morgan, the Dean, announced the closure of the bar and the cancellation of all JCR events when those involved in a “skidding game” on the cricket pitch failed to come forward.

The game was alleged to involve students sliding across the pitch on their knees, resulting in damage to the surface. 

Dr Morgan sent an email to the JCR on Wednesday saying he had “tried informal channels to encourage those people involved to come forward, but to no avail” and claimed that he now had to “take sterner action”.

“If the people involved haven’t e-mailed […] to take responsibility by 9am on Friday then the bar will be closed and all JCR events cancelled until further notice”, he said.

When this deadline passed he confirmed the punishment in a second email to the JCR, apologizing that “closure and cancellation couldn’t be avoided.”

Dr Morgan later revesed the decision, but not before it was met with anger and frustration amongst the College’s student body, particularly as events that weekend included an alumni football dinner and a charity event.

The charity event due to take place that weekend was “Pink Drinks”, an unlimited cocktails event described as “infamous” on Worcester JCR’s website. The event takes place every term to raise money for the College’s adopted charities, which this year include Against Malaria Foundation and Oxford Poverty Action Trust.

Students who emailed Dr. Morgan to complain received a reply within an hour informing them the decision had been reversed. 

The reversal was confirmed to the wider JCR several hours later in an email thanking “those people who have been in touch since my last message.”  

The email did not clarify whether this decision followed the perpetrators of the damage coming forward, or rather multiple complaints from members of the JCR.

One undergraduate student believed the Dean’s approach to the matter had been “far from…constructive”.

The student said: “I feel this is him trying to pass off a blatant lack of judgement as a clever ploy to get people to email him.

“Even if this was his original intention, which I think you have to question, it is far from a constructive way to go about things. 

“All he has done is to needlessly damage the relationship between the JCR as a whole and his Decanal team; using collective punishment is such a patronising and disrespectful way of treating students.

“There are even claims that the students who did the damage weren’t from Worcester at all, which would make Dr Morgan’s threats utterly pointless. 

“All in all it’s a massive over-reaction that has backfired: the only positive outcome is that the Dean at least might think twice before trying to pull the same stunt in the future”, they said.

Another Worcester student, a second year Physicist, added that “group punishment is never a good solution, especially when it’s not clear that the perpetrator was part of the group. Fortunately it was sorted out before any entz were cancelled.”

Worcester’s Decanal Office, when contacted, claimed that “Dr Morgan does not comment on decanal matters”.