“Destructive” behaviour at Balliol Christmas formal

College News News

Balliol students have come under fire for throwing food and damaging Hall artwork during a Christmas formal which was labeled “havoc” by the College Dean.

Diners dressed in Bop costumes damaged college property when the dessert course descended into a food fight. In an email to Balliol undergraduates, College Dean Dr Rachel Quarrell described the food throwing as a “serious incident” with “long-reaching consequences”.

Quarrell told students that: “Chocolate and cream have caused a considerable amount of damage to quite a few of the Hall paintings, and many staff and uninvolved JCR members were extremely upset and had their night ruined.”

The actions of students may also fall within the definition of “criminal damage” in English law, which states: “A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.”

In addition to damaged property, students have also been critized for the impact of their actions on Hall staff working at the dinner, which cost attendees £19.85 a head.

Xavier Cohen, a Balliol PPEist and prominent student activist, tweeted: “Oxford students paying ££ to be waited on by low wage workers at a special dinner, then throw their food around. Brats.”

Diners involved in the incident included JCR Vice-President, Aisha Simon.

Writing on the Balliol Freshers’ Facebook page, Simon said: “I’ve already sent through an apology for my own involvement, which wasn’t fun to do, and quite terrifying I’ll admit, but Rachel’s [the Dean] response was surprisingly forgiving and understanding.”

She also stated that Balliol’s catering staff and College Dean were “appalled” by the incident, and emphasized the need for individuals to come forward and “demonstrate the social consciousness”.

Simon was unable to provide comment.

One anonymous Balliol student described the events of the evening: “It wasn’t as if anyone went in with the intention of trashing the hall, it was just the culmulative excitement which pushed it over the edge. Everything was happening so quickly that it took me until later to catch up with what had been going on. It felt like term had almost been building to that night and everyone wanted to go mental and get the most out of it.”

JCR President Duncan Shepherd commented: “It’s a great shame that a few people took the celebrations too far and ended up throwing food and water at each other and even more so that the Hall staff had to deal with it.
“A few of those involved helped the clear up on the night, but many more have come forward now, and I am working with the Dean to make sure that the Hall staff get a proper apology. The College is understandably upset that some JCR members acted in this way, and that sentiment is shared by the entire JCR, some of whom had come from years abroad for this meal.”
Quarrell’s email to the undergraduate body urged those responsible to “come forward and own up to their actions”, warning that it will be “much more damaging to the JCR as a whole if they keep silent”.

Although the incident took place on 4th December, students are still actively being approached for apologies by the JCR vice-president as of 29th December.

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