Students at Trinity College have voted against mandating that the JCR endorse only mixed-gendered curries, despite complaints from students.
Sunday’s vote also lead to an overwhelming condemnation of the song “Chicago” – widely viewed as sexist – being sung at JCR-sanctioned events.
The proposed change to the JCR’s curry events, whereby they would be non-gendered, was strongly rejected, with 61 votes against and 32 for.
The reform was originally intended to make the events “more inclusive” and as “a means to discourage rowdy behaviour.” Some students had also expressed concern about the rowdy atmosphere at the men’s events, and offensive sconcing at women’s curries.
Concerns were raised during the meeting as to whether the JCR curry events were accommodating to those who identify as a non-binary gender and whether this would risk isolating future freshers.
However supporters of the current system claimed that the events, despite being nominally for men or women, were open to all genders and felt that an important part of the atmosphere would be lost in a mixed setting.
These motions were brought to Trinity’s fourth week JCR meeting after a lengthy open debate was held in the previous meeting to discuss rowdy and intimidating behaviour, especially at the men’s curries.
At Sunday’s meeting, students expressed concern that while both the male and female events would be technically open to all, they would force non-binary or trans students to “choose” a gender for the night.
Florence Mather, a second year theologian, told the OxStu that she was disappointed in the result: “I am disappointed that the motion failed, because I think split gender curries are not representative of JCR friendships and are exclusionary to trans and non-binary students, who are already harmfully ignored.”
The other proposal, to condemn the singing of the song “Chicago” at JCR-sanctioned events, was also passed, with 63 students voting for and 30 against the motion. The condemnation of the song, which contains a number of derogatory and misogynistic double entendres, was inspired by a similar motion passed by St Peter’s College JCR earlier in the academic year.
The specific wording of the motion did not extend to a more formal ban and the question remains whether this will have any practical implications if the singing or similar activities resume.
Mather continued by noting her disappointment that 30 people voted not to condemn the song: “As someone who’s experienced sexual harassment, I find it deeply upsetting to hear that people I had trusted think that it’s okay to sing and laugh at.”
John Musson, a fourth year Mathematician at Trinity, added: “I’m very happy with both results, the curry has been a huge part of my time here and I’d be sad to see it go. Chicago on the other hand was never a key part of the evening and if anyone was upset by it then there’s no reason to keep it.”
Leander Cascorbi, a Trinity second year, said the result reinforced concepts of binary gender identity, saying: “It means that for at least one more year each Trinity student will have to decide whether they prefer the ‘male’ way of having fun or the ‘female’ way of having fun. I was hoping we had already overcome such concepts.”
An additional motion to remove curries in the fresher’s week programme was postponed until seventh week in order for it to be discussed in the light of this week’s results.
PHOTO: Jonathan Rowle