St Hugh’s College JCR has passed a motion to condemn and remove funding for arts publication ‘Gold of Fuck’ after its name was found scrawled on a wall on Iffley road.
Zain Baweja, a co-founder of the zine, described the behaviour of the college JCR executive – who unanimously supported the motion – as “underhand” and “undemocratic”.
At a meeting in 2nd week this term the JCR had approved a motion (proposed by Baweja) to provide £200 towards the printing and launch of the zine. After the words ‘Gold of Fuck’ were found written in large letters at two points on the perimeter fence of Oxford University Sports Centre on Iffley Road, however, it voted to “condemn the criminal and antisocial behaviour associated with the ‘Gold of Fuck’ magazine collective” and “withdraw support for and sever JCR ties with the ‘Gold of Fuck’ magazine”.
The graffiti, one instance of which is directly opposite the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies, can be seen below. These pictures were placed in the pigeon hole of a member of the JCR Executive anonymously; they were then scanned and sent to the entire JCR as part of the agenda for the meeting in which the motion was discussed.
The images are captioned with the words “‘ Gold of Fuck’ graffiti – did the JCR fund this?”
‘Gold of Fuck’ describes itself as a “truly radical … independent art collective”, publishing “dream-poems, free-verse beat poems, Ghazals (an Arabic form of love poetry that predates even the sonnet), and even a collection of translations from Urdu and German”.
The motion, proposed by St Hugh’s JCR President Alex Yeandle, was discussed at a JCR meeting on Sunday and approved today (Wednesday).
77 votes were cast: 53 for and 21 against, with 3 abstentions.
A second motion, which would have meant that any future requests for funding for ‘Gold of Fuck’ are automatically rejected as a matter of policy, received exactly 50% support with 38 of 76 votes cast in favour, 33 against, and 5 abstentions.
It did not pass, however, since it failed to achieve the 2/3rds supermajority needed to become part of JCR policy.
“Underhand” and “Undemocratic”
The motion which passed asserts that a “name as unusual as ‘Gold of Fuck’ can be rationally connected to the magazine and its associated group, known to sell art and poetry in the area … No matter the cause, the JCR should not associate itself with or be seen to support criminal or antisocial behaviour.”
Baweja, however, told The Oxford Student that “none of our members are responsible for the graffiti”, and argued that the motion is “unwarranted” since “there is no evidence of a link between our collective and the graffiti.”
Before this motion was proposed, the executive had originally planned to submit a motion attempting to withdraw the £200 promised to ‘Gold of Fuck’, which had not already been paid despite the original motion being passed a month earlier. This plan was abandoned when the JCR’s Independent Chair said it was not possible.
Baweja alleges that he was told by the exec that “no time frame is specified in the constitution” and they could “send it in two years if they wanted”.
Referring to the fact that they only consented to send the money after being told to by the Independent Chair, he asked: “Is this the behaviour of a truly democratic body that prioritizes the interests of its members?”
Yeandle, however, speaking to The Oxford Student on behalf of the JCR exec, argued that the delay was a result of “the collective’s failure to immediately provide banking details or suggest that funding was urgent”.
He admitted that following the discovery of the graffiti the exec were “hesitant” to release the money, but noted that it did eventually, on the 25th May, two days before the JCR meeting.
The second motion, which did not pass, resolves to “automatically refuse any further motions asking for JCR funding or support for the ‘Gold of Fuck’ magazine collective as a matter of policy.”
Baweja branded this an attempt to “block all future ‘Gold of Fuck’ funding by making it a part of the constitution”, a move he called “undemocratic” since it “takes away agency from future voters/committees.”
Yeandle, however, said that this is “categorically” false, since the motion proposes a change in policy and “The policy book of the JCR is a completely separate document to the constitution”. Policies, he added, unlike the constitution, “must be reviewed by members every year and can be revoked, at any time, upon the passing of a further motion.”
He thus argued that there was “nothing undemocratic” about the executive’s actions: “In light of accusations of ‘undemocratic’ or ‘underhanded’ behaviour, we would like to emphasise two points.
“Firstly, the JCR has democratically voted to overwhelmingly support the first part of our motion.
“Secondly, after deliberation and debate about the policy motion, the JCR has given us instructions to follow.
“This is democracy in action.”
He noted that Baweja did not attend this week’s JCR meeting but that “the multiple members of the Gold of Fuck collective in attendance explicitly supported the Executive Committee’s proposed motion.”
At the time of publication, the graffiti was still visible.