St John’s students off their trollies

Students at St John’s College have received a warning after a number of abandoned shopping trolleys have been found around the college grounds.

In an email sent to all undergraduates and postgraduates on Friday by the college’s Joint Domestic Secretaries, students were informed: “Five shopping trolleys from different supermarkets around Oxford have been brought to College and dumped”. The email continued: “Any student who cannot manage to carry their shopping themselves MUST return their trolley to the supermarket.”

Students reacted to Friday’s news with a mixture of amusement and disapproval. JCR Domestic Officer Sonia Morland linked the abandonment of trolleys to the “recent financial woes” reported by Tesco, stating: “There’s clearly a link between the loss of valuable Tesco trolleys and Tesco’s plummeting share price”. English student Morland continued: “As a Tesco lover, I’m personally sickened by the selfish and criminal actions of my fellow students”.

Not all students showed such disapproval, however. A second year student who wished not to be named commented: “It is difficult to feel particularly sorry for Tesco or Sainsbury’s. Big supermarket chains are killing the economy and damaging the British community. There are worse things that could happen than these capitalist overlords losing a few trolleys.”

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s, which has a branch on Magdalen Street near St John’s College, told the OxStu that the supermarket  wanted to “reduce the cases of abandoned trolleys”, referring to the their partnership with Trolleywise, a service designed to locate abandoned trolleys. Customers are usually expected to hand in a form of ID to insure that they return their trolley back to the shop. It is unclear whether this policy is consistently applied.

The abandonment of trolleys in St John’s follows a number of instances of tension between Oxford students and Oxford supermarkets. In May 2014, a Cowley branch of Sainsbury’s was forced to remove a ‘slave mannequin’ used to advertise the film 12 Years of Slave, with several students criticising the supermarket’s actions. Last year students launched a petition urging Tesco to remove a greeting card accused of belittling workplace sexual harassment, and in 2011 former Oxford academic Frances Kennett launched opposition to the construction of Sainsbury’s fifth store in Oxford, located on Banbury Road.