Keble split as college narrowly votes to reject boat burning

Keble students have voted by a very small margin to oppose the proposed burning of a boat on the college’s front quad in the event that the men’s or women’s first crew finish Head of the River this week.

In the JCR, 120 were in favour of burning the boat, with 123 opposing the boat-burning (73 of whom felt that some other boat-related celebration should be held instead). In an equally close vote, the MCR elected to disapprove of the boat burning by 21 votes to 18.

The results, as well as the full minutes of the meetings, will now be delivered to the Warden of the College by the JCR and MCR Presidents.

MCR President Libby Rose-Innes commented: “It is important for the MCR to debate issues that may affect its current or future members. This is our responsibility as an active body within the College.”

Many students cited concerns that the event would reinforce the stereotyped, elitist image of the university, with some JCR members arguing that the burning of the boat would undermine the successful outreach work of Keble at Large.

Others strongly opposed this argument, however, with one member thinking it “insulting” that potential applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds would not carry out further research beyond boat-burning when looking at the college.

Indeed, some students suggested that the particular success of KCBC this season, given the several state-educated students among their number, could be celebrated as an inspirational, outreach success story.

In addition to the potential ramifications of the boat burning, discussion in the MCR broached the way in which Governing Body had consulted junior members and whether concern for College donors may have affected the decision.

Those present at both meetings discussed the potential influence of certain donors on the college’s decision-making, and the negative impact which the cancelling of the boat-burning could possibly have on both KCBC and the wider financial support schemes of the college.

A disparity was also highlighted between the college’s rejection of a proposed welfare BBQ on a different quad last year, and their treatment of this suggested event.

Criticism was levelled in both meetings at a rowing-themed instagram account named keble4head, posts on which were described by one student as “sexist and misogynistic”. KCBC members denied any connection to the account, however, stating that it should have no bearing on the discussion.

A post from the "keble4head" instagram account which has since been removed.
A post from the keble4head instagram account which has since been removed.

One member noted that ten minutes after keble4head was mentioned at the MCR meeting, one particularly criticised post was removed from the site, leading some to believe that the account owner or someone that knew them was present in the room.

Another post read: “Irrefutable evidence that the people are behind Keble headship boat burning. Great ratings #forthemanynotthefew #thefacts #truth”. The caption, which has since been altered to remove any reference to the burning of a boat, was accompanied by two juxtaposed images of the limited crowd from Trump’s inauguration and the much fuller crowd from Obama’s inauguration in an attempt to suggest large support from Keble students.

The proposed boat burning, in any case, still hinges on the Keble M1 or W1 team finishing Head of the River during Summer Eights.