Welcome to Somerville College JCR. The JCR represents the undergraduates of Somerville College, Oxford. Here you can find all you need to know on everything from how to get your first year off to a great start to what’s happening in college this week. We’ve also included a couple of helpful links to the internal meals website (because food) and information on how to get in touch with your JCR officers if you need any help or just want to make a suggestion. Do come to the fortnightly JCR meetings in Flora Anderson Hall on Sunday evenings- you’ll be emailed the agenda by your friendly Secretary, and you can submit motions of your own if you want to change how things are done. Your president this year is Alex Crichton-Miller, remember to say hi when you see him around college (usually in an orange jacket…).
Captain’s Match Report: Alessandro Pirzio-Biroli
On a dark, wet November evening, Somerville College participated in its first ever Swimming Cuppers . On this glorious occasion, 13 brave souls cycled down to the Iffley Pool in order to do what no Somervillian had done before. Upon arrival, we were intimidated by exotic-looking men in dingy speedos who spanned six feet wide and definitely needed a chest waxing. However, although we were not big in size, we were big in numbers – only Magdalen, the usual winners of this competition, had a similar number of people. This, and the arrival of an MCR student, known only as Phil, lifted our morale.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember who swam what exactly – so we’ll focus on the memorable moments. Charlie Not Keen Chen demonstrated to the swimming world that you don’t need a swim cap in order to win the Men’s 50m Backstroke – managing to keep his eyes closed and singing Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” at the same time. The Somerville Team demonstrated its freestyle prowess when Charlie Keen, Sasha Something, Phil Who?, and James Goetz took second place in the Freestyle Relay, in what proved to be the most thrilling sporting event since that match that the Men’s 1st Football Team won a couple of weeks ago. I vividly remember how our very own JCR president gracefully sped through the water like a male dolphin hunting down its reproductive partner. I personally partook in the freestyle and butterfly, managing to ascertain a fast enough speed by thinking that Nigel Farage was chasing me out of the country.
The performances that dealt the most serious blows to our main opponents, Magdalen, were witnessed in the Individual Medleys. Charlie Not Keen Chen continued his victory streak by literally evolving into a fish and completing the IM in record time. Imogen The Tank Engine and Jess The Mess stormed to victory, wreaking a path of destruction and misery as they took 1st and 2nd places in the Women’s IM.
French Nina and Fran-The-Tram made all the opposition feel like the Sloth from Planet Earth by darting away and getting us a top spot in the Women’s 50m Freestyle. Dom The Bomb swam the only stroke she knew, Breaststroke, and she did a damn good job, by achieving a gracefulness so beautiful in the Medley Relay that it made Katie Hopkins open her eyes and thus convert to the Green Party. Joe John John Joe John Baker reminded us that consuming pot does not affect your performance during Backstroke or Butterfly, and that actually it enhances your swimming performance.
Finally, we waited with bated breath for the results – David Ellis volunteered to sacrifice himself as an offering to the Drowned God in order to guarantee victory. However, this proved to be unnecessary, for as soon as Magdalen, our one true enemy, the only competitor in our ecosystem, the Communist Russia to our Capitalist United States of America, was declared to have finished in second place, we realised that we had actually won. Upon this declaration of delicious news, euphoria ensued and the police had to be called to control the hundreds of screaming fans (reminiscent of The Beatles 1965 O’Shea Stadium Concert). I myself was pushed into the pool against my own will by our JCR President, Alex Chairman Crichton-Miller.
I am extremely proud of all of those that took part and was only prevented from crying by the fact that I had done so earlier when listening to Beyoncé’s “If I was a Boy”. Unfortunately – there was no trophy…but hopefully we’ll get one made. First time competitors, first time winners, a well-deserved victory:
Dear Mr Gyimah,
On behalf of Somerville College’s Junior Common Room, we would first like to express how proud we are of having an alumnus who has had so many accomplishments in both charitable and political endeavours. Being appointed as a Minister in the Justice Department is a great testament to your character and to your dedication. This is perhaps why your actions on Friday 21st October 2016 surprised members of Somerville’s JCR.
We would like to express our disappointment at your filibustering of MP John Nicolson’s Bill on this date. We understand that you are a proponent of the Ministry of Justice’s ‘Turing’ Bill and your concern that extending a blanket pardon might lead to the pardoning of some who were rightfully convicted of other crimes. However, we believe that preventing discussion on Nicolson’s Bill has had great ramifications for the LGBTQ+ community.
Though it is of course commendable to be seeking to pass a Bill pardoning gay and bisexual men for actions that were previously illegal, we feel that requiring them to apply for their sentence to be ‘disregarded’ is both unreasonable and alienating. The Ministry of Justice’s Bill, as it stands, places the onus for obtaining the pardon onto the victim and comes across as apathetic rather than apologetic. While we recognise that a blanket pardon would require a similar process of comprehensive checks by the Home Office that a ‘disregard’ would also necessitate, the government should adopt a proactive position on this issue. Having heard about your actions on the 21st October, several students came forward expressing concern that the LGBTQ+ community had been disrespected and had their views marginalised by your blocking of this Bill. After raising the issue at a JCR meeting, the student body voted to condemn your actions.
As an alumnus – particularly one who has a strong connection to our college – your actions reflect upon Somerville and influence our reputation in the wider community. As a college, we have always taken pride in our reputation as an inclusive, welcoming safe space, and we would hope that this atmosphere of tolerance remains with students long after they leave.
As such, we urge you against requiring individuals to apply to have their convictions ‘disregarded’. In writing you this letter, our intention is not to insult or to vilify. We wish instead to foster a positive dialogue between current students and yourself whilst reaching clarification on why previously convicted gay and bisexual men should have to apply to have convictions ‘disregarded’. We look forward to hearing from you.
Alex Crichton-Miller, JCR President and Katharine Asquith, JCR LGBTQ+ Officer, on behalf of the Somerville JCR