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By Jonathan Tomlin
Magdalen College has had to schedule an emergency re-run of its JCR meeting after too few students attended for votes to be valid.
The JCR debated for just over an hour, and passed five motions, including one to design a Magdalen Monopoly board for sale in the college shop, only to discover that they were constitutionally invalid because only 17 people turned up on Sunday night.
The failure to meet the quorum of 25 students was only noted after the meeting had finished.
According to the JCR Constitution: “A quorum is constituted for the purposes of considering an ordinary resolution, by twenty-five Members entitled to vote”. After a student brought this up on Sunday night, the JCR committee voted unanimously to hold an additional Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) tonight.
JCR President Meg Trainor said: “Attendance at Sunday’s GM was lower than usual because many JCR members are preparing for exams.
“There is a perfectly straightforward constitutional way, by calling another GM, to resolve the quorum issue raised on Sunday and that is exactly what is being done.”
In an email sent to all JCR members, Trainor said that the resolution to hold another meeting had been approved by the writer of the constitution, Ben Spagnolo.
The email also noted that, since one of the motions referred to a conference that will be held next weekend, it would not be possible to postpone until the 3rd week OGM.
Trainor made clear the importance of a good turnout by adding: “IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT A LARGE NUMBER OF JCR MEMBERS ATTEND THIS MEETING.”
Elena Harty, a student at Magdalen who proposed a motion to spend £1,000 for a college pedalo, said: “We had an hour and a bit of discussion over the five motions so it’s a shame that that time was wasted but it’s fair that we have to rerun all the motions.”
She added: “If we’re lucky there’ll be enough people for it to count this time. I just hope that my motion goes through so we can have a pedalo to go with our punts at Magdalen.”
Jake Coltman, a third year PPE student at Magdalen, said: “It is nice to see constitutions being respected for once. Too often Presidents, not naming names, take too much of an interest in railroading projects that benefit individuals who’ve “worked hard” rather than acting in the best interests of the JCR as a whole.
“Hopefully with more people, better sense will prevail and motions will be better scrutinised than they have been in the past, especially when considering such large sums that could benefit the members, or indeed proper charitable causes, so much.”
Will Wright, a third year historian at Magdalen, said: “It’s good to see the JCR holding strictly to the constitution; who knows what tyranny could ensue if we sanctioned the design of a college Monopoly board without proper procedure? Thomas Jefferson would be proud.”
He added: “To be fair, the rules aren’t particularly clear about what needs quorum and what doesn’t. GMs are rarely so lowly attended so I think the ‘minimum 25’ rule never really comes into play. I’d call it a forgivable mistake.”
One motion passed 13-1 at the meeting proposed to “form a committee to design a Magdalen College Monopoly Board (eg. lowest cost property the Waynflete [freshers’ accommodation], chance cards like “You have received a distinction in your prelims, collect £100, Deans fine you £50”)” and to “present our design to the college, and see if it could become an official product on sale in the college shop.”
Two other motions provided £200 funding for two charities associated with Magdalen. £1,000 was also set aside for a college pedalo by a vote of 10-3. A unanimous 15-0 vote offered £1,000 of JCR funds to the National British-Pakistani Conference, which is taking place at Magdalen from 28th-29th April.
All of these motions will have to be debated again and new votes taken.