The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a report on sexual assault in Australian universities on the first of AugustWritten by Daniel Hickey on 20th November 2017
Oxford College Bans CU From Freshers’ Fair
News Reporter, Eleanor Duncan, looks into the recent banning of the CU from Balliol College's Freshers Fair
The societies fair is a staple of freshers’ week at universities all over the country, a place where new students can learn about the many clubs they have the opportunity get involved in outside of their studies. But this year at Oxford University’s Balliol College, one club was missing from the fair: the Christian Union (CU).
The college’s Junior Common Room (JCR) Welfare Subcommittee explained their decision to ban the CU from the fair in an email written by Freddy Potts, the JCR’s Vice-President.
They said that as Christianity has been often used as an excuse for ‘homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism’; the group’s presence at the fair would prevent it from being a ‘secular space’ and would ‘alienate’ certain students. They stated that forms of ‘micro-aggression’ such as this alienation are often dismissed as unimportant and go unreported, therefore causing the affected students to feel further isolated – something they wanted to prevent.
“Homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism
Balliol College’s freshers’ fair ban did not last long. It was initially altered to allow a multi-faith stall made up of four different Christian groups, although no members of the groups were allowed to man it. However, the ban had stirred up controversy within Balliol as it was seen as ‘a violation of free speech [and] a violation of religious freedom’ and the JCR eventually unanimously voted to repeal the ban, allowing the CU to attend future freshers’ fairs.
At UoB, the CU puts on various events in an attempt to help the wider university community – for instance, their frequent ‘water bottling’, where they give out water to those leaving clubs late at night and make sure they have safe transport home.
Groups like the Christian, Islamic, Jewish, and Hindu societies, alongside the 18 others in Multi-Faith Chaplaincy, give students an opportunity to explore a viewpoint they may never have considered or encountered before, as well as supporting students of that faith in their journey through university.