Balliol JCR voted down a motion on Sunday to change the name of their annual Christmas Dinner to something “faith-neutral”. The motion was submitted by an undergraduate at Balliol to “signal Balliol’s acceptance and inclusion of people of faiths other than Christianity and non-believers”.
The proposed motion noted that “there are people who view Christmas as a fundamentally Christian holiday” and “as a result, or for other reasons, there are people who do not wish to celebrate Christmas”. Last year, the Christmas Dinner was advertised as “the best dinner of the year” and an opportunity to “reflect” on the term. The motion also argued that those who do not celebrate Christmas should not be excluded from “the best dinner of the year” so the Christmas Dinner should not be a religious event. It was suggested that a name change would not discourage attendance and demand for tickets was high enough that branding would not be an issue.
According to minutes from the meeting seen by the Oxford Student, arguments against the motion were that people did not currently feel left out from the event and that Christmas dinner at Balliol is an important tradition to many individuals who do celebrate Christmas. It was pointed out that the Christmas Dinner always preceded the Christmas Bop and that both events were “inclusive to all”. Concerns were also raised over “potential media interpretation over the changing of the name”.
Last Michaelmas, Balliol college students voted unanimously to prevent any organisation being banned from their freshers’ fair in the future after their JCR Welfare Subcommittee prevented the Christian Union (CU) from being represented at the fair. The ban had been met with widespread criticism and made national news but the issue was “amicably resolved” according to the umbrella organisation for Christian Unions UK.