Worcester votes to reinstate standing at formal in referendum

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Students at Worcester College voted by 130 to 20 on Monday 28th October in favour of reinstating standing as tutors enter and leave formal hall.

Standing for tutors had been abolished by the college’s interim Provost, Kate Tunstall at the start of term. Catering staff at Worcester informed students of this change of policy during formal halls.

This decision sparked opposition by some Worcester students, leading to an incident at a formal in first week where, after some confusion, students stood voluntarily at the entrance and exit of tutors in the college hall in spite of instructions by catering staff not to.

A motion was brought by Damon Falck and Kira Miller to Sunday’s meeting of Worcester JCR asking for a referendum on reversing Tunstall’s decision. 

According to Falck’s motion, standing for tutors “is a long-standing tradition and shows respect for the SCR”. 

His motion also argued that Worcester’s maintenance of many traditions in its formal has given it “a reputation for being exciting to go to” for students first arriving at Oxford.

Falck further argued that it was “significantly more awkward to sit in silence while the tutors arrive or leave than it is to stand”, with standing for tutors “also an excellent way to signal the start of the meal”.

The motion passed at the JCR meeting and was subsequently put to an online referendum on Monday this week. 155 students voted, with 130 in favour, 20 against and five abstaining. 

The motion directs the JCR to ask Worcester College’s governing body to restore the policy of standing at formals. 

Its main immediate effect, however, is to make it JCR policy to recommend students voluntarily stand for tutors during formal dinners. 

Falck wrote in a post in the Worcester JCR Facebook group: “JCR policy is now to recommend that members stand voluntarily for high table as they come in to and leave Formal Hall.

“So next time you go, do stand up even if the catering staff tell you you don’t have to! (Unless you don’t’ want to, in which case of course don’t!)”

Image credit: Mike Legend