Image Credit: Ed Webster (CC BY 2.0)

Magdalen JCR debates £35,000 common room refurbishment

On Sunday of 3rd week, a general meeting of the Magdalen JCR met to discuss a special resolution allotting £5,000 towards the refurbishment of the college’s JCR in advance of a further £30,000 at a later date to amount to one of the largest decisions and investments by the JCR in years. However, despite over an hour of debate, the resolution was ruled unconstitutional and no vote was held.

The refurbishment was part of the JCR President’s manifesto, and improvement as well as gratitude for the creation of two JCR Refurbishment Officers and a committee appeared unanimous. Immediate concern however was raised about the constitutionality of the motion, which was, in some members’ views, held without advance notice and consultation.

The JCR had invited members to make suggestions for refurbishment and items to buy as well as publicising where the majority of the £5,000 would be assigned – primarily to buy a PS4, Xbox One, games and speakers for one of the JCR rooms and football and tennis tables as well as darts for the other room.

After co-operative questions about disability access and economic use of space, one member took issue with the sense in updating the consoles and equipment before any major refurbishment considering the minor use of the JCR until that point.

The JCR President responded by noting the severe lack of prior progress in refurbishment and imploring members to acknowledge the effort and care put into the project by the Refurbishment Officers and the need for advancement, calling the motion a ‘vote of confidence.’

However, several members were troubled by the lack of concern for the JCR constitution in ‘rushing through’ the funding, wondering at the point in the constitution if it was ‘ignored’ on such a major issue. Another member talked about the need ‘to get it right’ and was disturbed by the lack of a major plan for spending. Many were also dissatisfied that the Officers would delay spending for several weeks yet not delay the vote until then.

Following this debate and questioning, during the last minutes the motion was amended to fund the full £35,000, before, in confused scenes, the entire motion was ruled unconstitutional, no vote was held and the funding was not approved.

In contrast, under a high turnout a unanimity of members approved an ordinary resolution noting the malfunction of college washing machines provided by Laundry Watch resulting in the Waynflete accommodation building having only one working machine and requiring students to pay several times before the machines acknowledged their payment. It resolved to “urge the college to review the Laundry Watch contract” and ask the college to reimburse members of the JCR for “unsuccessful attempts at laundry”.

The resolution passed with 44 votes in favour, 0 against and 0 abstentions and without much discussion or concern, much unlike that day’s special resolution.