Hilda’s mixed vote

first_imgThe St Hilda’s JCR has passed a motion to hold a referendum on the issue of the college remaining single sex. The motion passed with 40 votes for and no objections.After the referendum has been held, Ailbhe Menton, St Hilda’s JCR President, who sits at all “Agenda A’ Governing Body meetings, will use the result to represent the interests of the JCR. The move is a pre-emptive response to the pending publication by the Governing Body of a report titled “St Hilda’s and the 21st Century; a Strategic Report.” The document, which will be distributed to students at the college, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of admitting men to St Hilda’s. In addition, it emerged that the Governing Body has agreed to “build a consensus towards going mixed.”Menton proposed the referendum to ensure that the opinions of undergraduates at St Hilda’s are taken into account by the Governing Body. Menton said, “The last vote was held in Hilary 2003 and those are the views that I’m currently representing. My motivation behind holding a referendum is that I want to represent the views of current students.” Before the JCR referendum can be held, at least 50 of St Hilda’s 419 undergraduates must sign a petition in favour of the vote. During the weeks running up to the referendum a series of “information forums” will be held. The forums will present different perspectives on the admissions policy debate, so as to better inform the students’ decisions. The Principle of St Hilda’s, Lady English, issued a statement saying, “The Governing Body of St Hilda’s reconsiders the single-sex status of the college periodically, as part of its planning process. There are no immediate plans for a vote on the matter.” The last JCR referendum on the status of St Hilda’s was in 7th week of Hilary Term 2003. (57% against going mixed, 43% for.) The 2003 Governing Body vote which followed was understood to be just one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to decide to admit men.The Governing Body will be under no obligation to act upon the findings of the JCR referendum, yet students voiced concerns during the debate of the motion in Monday’s meeting that the result, if in favour of accepeting males, may be used as a ‘weapon’ to fast-track a co-educational policy. This view was largely formed as the last Governing Body vote was very close, making the JCR opinion potentially highly influencial.College authorities in support of the transition believe that going mixed would solve difficulties in recruiting staff, as well as improve the college’s financial and academic performance. St Hilda’s was placed 23rd out of 30 colleges in this year’s Norrington Table, having moved up seven places from last year. Opinion among the student body is divided. Anna Tierney, a second year at St Hilda’s, said, “University is meant to prepare you for life in the real world. We need men.” However, Georgina Edwards, Entz Rep for the JCR, said, “This won’t just affect Hilda’s; the University’s male to female ratio is already skewed enough – Oxford doesn’t need more men.”“I don’t care if they have testicles, I just want friends,” said Tamsin Chislett, a second year at the college.In 1986, Oriel became the final all-male college to accept women and Somerville remained single sex until 1992 when the decision was made to become mixed. University figures across all colleges show a very close male/female ratio, although individual colleges contain some imbalances. For example, in Balliol college, 36% of undergraduate first years are female, just 43 out of 118.ARCHIVE: 1st week MT 2005last_img read more