On Sunday of 3rd Week the Lady Margaret Hall JCR voted on the provision of £8.95 towards the purchase of a Catalonian flag, approving the motion 26 votes to 18 with 12 abstentions. The vote was put to the LMH JCR following the approval of a motion two weeks earlier which provided £100 to the LMH Spanish Society and was slammed in the notes of Sunday’s motion ‘as a ringing endorsement of the Spanish government’s unjust seizure of Catalan autonomy, one which will echo for centuries to come’.
The notes continued: ‘A strong and well-funded Catalan Society just could be the solution to the current Catalan Crisis that Europe and the world have been waiting for’. A referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on 1st October. It has been dismissed by Spanish officials as unconstitutional and efforts were made on the day of the referendum to disrupt voting at polling stations.
The proposer of the motion, who wished to remain anonymous, released an exclusive statement to The Oxford Student explaining that the creation of a Catalan Society was proposed ‘in order to show solidarity with the repressed voices, and emphasise LMH’s belief in the right to self determination and the freedom of speech’.
‘The successful passing of this motion is a clear demonstration that the voices of the people will not be silenced in the face of oppression’. Immediately after the motion was approved the proposer ordered the contentious flag on Amazon, intending to fly it out of his bedroom window which overlooks the bikeshed and the back gate of the college.
The vote did not proceed without controversy. One JCR member questioned whether the motion would jeopardise relations between LMH and the Spanish Government. Another suggested that the proposer, who is also Co-President of the LMH History Society, was using the opportunity to create a new society that would allow him to attend more dinners subsidised by the JCR.
The President of the LMH Spanish Society spoke to The Oxstu after the vote expressing ‘deep disappointment’ that ‘the actions of a few rogue individuals is threatening to destroy that which we hold dearest’. It is now feared that the Spanish Society, which reportedly offers film nights, language meet-ups and group drinks in the college bar, ‘will never again be able to personally touch the hearts of so many students and promote Spain’s wonderful culture’.
The OxStu has learnt that in the spirit of reconciliation the newly formed LMH Catalan Society has invited the college Spanish Society to a crewdate but the offer was rebuked as ‘a cruel jest’. The motion’s proposer noted that ‘We are disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, at their unwillingness to open discussions’. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain has not yet responded for comment.