New College rejects anti-Exeter motion

New College narrowly rejected a motion on Sunday night to send a statement of “strong disapproval of Exeter College’s decision to host Christian Concern’s conference” to Exeter’s Rector and JCR President.

The motion was put forward following anger after The Oxford Student revealed that the college is to host the Wilberforce Academy over the Easter Vacation. The Academy is organised by Christian Concern, an organisation widely accused of holding homophobic views.

The proposal was discussed in heated debate for 45 minutes on Sunday night. The main point of contention regarded the Wilberforce Academy’s right to free speech.

Students disagreed on whether Christian Concern is in fact homophobic, as well as issues of free speech surrounding the subject. It was also noted that Exeter would face up to £150,000 in legal costs for breach of contract, and doubts were raised about the validity of the JCR vote as a sufficiently representative mechanism for expressing the opinions of the student body. Some students also feared that New College would potentially be portrayed negatively in the media as a result.

After an initial move to vote was rejected to continue debate, the decision was taken that as the motion involved an “ethical issue”, a “supermajority” of two thirds would be necessary to pass it. The second move to vote led to a 33-32 majority, which meant the motion was rejected.

Timothy Anderson, who seconded the motion, said he was “disappointed” by the decision, adding: “Ironically, in the very same meeting, a motion was passed without opposition to mandate our LGBTQ officer to request permission to raise the rainbow flag above college on the last day of LGBTQ History Month. From this, it’s clear that there was more at play than a gay rights debate.”

He added that had “never felt discriminated against” as a gay person in college. “What was clear from the meeting to me personally was that even some of those who are tolerant and accepting fail to understand quite how important an issue this is for certain members of our community.”

He continued: “Some of the things said were plainly insulting but very few people seemed to realise this when the debate veered off into a discussion of homosexuality itself. I hoped that the JCR of New College would take it upon themselves to express that this sits outside of the values and beliefs of our community and it’s disappointing to see that we, as a JCR, don’t have enough confidence in values which are so evident in our other activities.”

Many Exeter students felt their college had been unfairly characterised. Edward Allnutt and Ella Mae Lewis said, “on behalf of the Exeter LGBTQ community”: “We would like to highlight to readers that from the perspective of our (very well-established) LGBTQ society, Exeter College is extremely welcoming towards its LGBTQ staff and students.

“We continue to maintain our strong disagreement with the views held by Christian Concern.”

The response from some students at Exeter, however, was nonchalant. Low Xi De, a third year at Exeter, commented, “They’re entitled to their opinion. Free speech goes both ways obviously.”



  1. Molly Arenberg

    16th February 2012 at 23:12

    I would like to comment upon the last quote: “They’re entitled to their opinion. Free speech goes both ways obviously.”

    As an openly bisexual Christian, I have taken a special interest in Oxford’s decision to host this conference. My opinion? Let them come.

    However, this is not because I believe in the right to spread hateful ideas under the guise of freedom of speech. I agree that it’s comparable to a racist organisation coming to speak. Racism is not ‘extinct’ by any means, but it’s come far enough along that you don’t see Oxford welcoming the KKK in for a conference.

    The world isn’t there yet with gay rights. Oxford’s welcoming of this conference is proof. The world isn’t post gay-rights. We’re in the middle of it. As long as there are Q & A’s, like at every other conference at Oxford, let them come. Let’s engage them in discussion. I personally want to push the organisation out of their comfort zone: I want to pray with them.

  2. Jamie Cherrington

    17th February 2012 at 16:58

    After the original article on this issue was published, the LGBTQ community at Exeter wished to comment on the situation. Although we asked Oxstu to publish our statement, they took a very small quotation in order to provide a veneer of balance to their otherwise very one sided argument. The statement below is the ONLY statement which represents the views of the Exeter LGBTQ community.

    “We as the LGBTQ community of Exeter College are uncomfortable with the perception of our college expressed in the article ‘Exeter Welcomes Homophobes’ published on the 9th of February 2012. We would like to highlight to readers that from the perspective of our (very well-established) LGBTQ society, Exeter College is extremely welcoming towards its LGBTQ staff, fellows and students.

    While we continue to maintain our strong disagreement with the views held by Christian Concern and the Wilberforce Academy, it is preposterous to suggest that Exeter ‘welcomes’ homophobia in any way.

    Through its appointments to important positions and its actions in the past, Exeter has demonstrated its support for the LGBTQ community both in Exeter and the wider University. Only a small example of this is provided by the fact that Exeter will host the University wide Graduate LGBT dinner in 6th Week, and also in a few weeks will host its own annual dinner for the LGBTQ community across common rooms, organized by students and supported strongly by staff and fellows. The presence of a very vibrant student LGBTQ society including undergraduates, graduates, home and international students, is testament to the atmosphere in Exeter, buttressed further by the strong LGBTQ presence in the SCR.

    Thus, from our perspective, the article mentioned above entirely misunderstands and misinterprets Exeter’s position on the question of the rights and dignity of LGBTQ students. It takes the incident of the Wilberforce Academy out of context, without an understanding of the process that has led up to this point, and misjudges the college on the basis of these isolated facts.

    The conference business of Exeter College, like many other colleges has been handled by the Steward’s Office, and like in several other colleges it is not established practice to filter organizations based on their ideological views. While this may be an issue that Exeter and other colleges will put thought into for the future, the fact that an organization with homophobic views has rented the college premises does not reflect on the college’s own views on this issue.”

  3. Dr Christopher Shell

    27th February 2012 at 15:02

    Low Xi De is right that they are entitled to their opinion. But people who can back up their opinion with research and frequently quote that research are more entitled to their opinion than the writers of this and similar articles (and most follow-the-crowd students) who provide neither research nor chapter and verse to back up their predictably (e.g. Christian Concern) culturally conformist ‘views’.

  4. Dr Christopher Shell

    27th February 2012 at 15:03

    The (e.g. Christian Concern) should be inserted after the second ‘research’. Their position/theory has statistical and factual backing. Where is the statistical and factual backing of the popular/Zeitgeist position.

  5. Dr Barnaby Wilkinson

    27th February 2012 at 22:01

    Oh, I find myself eminently in agreement with my good colleague Dr Christopher Shell, who is indeed a real Dr and heaven help any bastard who thinks otherwise.

  6. Professor JG Duckworth

    27th February 2012 at 22:01

    I concur!

  7. The Arch-Duke of Canterbury

    27th February 2012 at 22:01


  8. The Arch-Duke of Hackney

    27th February 2012 at 22:03

    Seconded! Damn good stuff there, Shelly, damn good stuff. Though I liked you more on Peter Hitchens’ column. More sex other there, you see…

  9. Dr Christopher Shell

    28th February 2012 at 09:43

    Well done, guys. You adduce a lot of scientific evidence in your defence, I see. That’s the Oxford spirit. See the other threads.

  10. Dr Christopher Shell

    28th February 2012 at 16:48

    As for Jamie Cherrington’s comment, can he or someone else explain to me how someone intelligent enough to study at Oxford can think every opposition to homosexual behaviour must be explicable by ‘phobia’ (i.e., irrational fear, though the less literate often understand it to mean or imply hatred)? Who has decreed that people cannot provisionally conclude such an opposition as a result of their research to date?
    (I leave aside that ‘homo-phobia’ is also an incorrectly-constructed coinage.)

  11. Professor JG Duckworth

    28th February 2012 at 21:24

    Oh go on Shelly, lighten up a tad, we were only having a spot of light-hearted tittle-tattle

  12. Dr Barnaby Wilkonson

    28th February 2012 at 21:25

    Yes Shelly, well said! Show the scoundrels what’s coming to them. They’ll see soon enough that this anti-homophobia stuff is about as genuine as your phD credentials – chortle chortle!

  13. Dr Christopher Shell

    29th February 2012 at 09:51

    Comparative rates of (often: male) homosexual early death, STIs, promiscuity, transience and concurrence of relationships, pederasty, drug use, depression, suicide?? Research and evidence – unless Oxford University has a ‘phobia’ of those very things?

    Anal intercourse compared to vaginal: Bears no fruit as opposed to billions of fruit; is medically risky, there being no safe sexual alternative in the case of male homosexuals. One-cell width of rectal lining. No lubrication. Microfold cells which attract and enfold disease-microbes. A sphincter signalling an exit which is not also an entrance. And you want ‘equality’ where the science tells you there is no equality. So Oxford is anti-science as well?

  14. Chris R

    28th June 2012 at 11:38

    Well done New College! i t seems that there are still 32 sane people in your midst, even if the presence of 33 raving, ranting gay fanatics is a shame.
    I am horrified that Trinity College invited the revolting Eric Anderson to speak there and even more disgusted that Oxford University press has published a book by him, advocating promiscuity in pretentious pseudo-scientific terms. Clearly Oxford University Press is not what it was.

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