Frances Cairncross

Drugs, drunkards and debauchery: colleges reveal worst behaviour

Drugs, drunkards and debauchery: colleges reveal worst behaviour

For most students the dreaming spires evoke calmness and contemplation – but new documents uncovered by The Oxford Student reveal the University’s wilder side.

Dispatching Freedom of Information requests to all 38 undergraduate colleges, The Oxford Student sought to lift the lid on student high-jinks. What followed were tales of drugs, drunkards and debauchery.

Newly released data from Jesus College reveals 31 disciplinary incidents have occurred since May 2011, including six instances of drunken and disorderly behaviour, six counts of unauthorised parties and three of sneaking guests into college.

In May 2013, two Jesus students were disciplined for gatecrashing the Pembroke ball and ordered to pay back the full ticket price, while another was fined £30 for throwing up in Trinity College’s centuries-old quad.

During the same month, some students were disciplined for hosting a party without permission, and forced to apologise to staff and pay a cleaning charge. Others received fines for tampering with fire extinguishers and for damaging a college flat.

Ten students were disciplined for raucous behaviour during a trip to Spain in April 2012, and forced to apologise. Later that year, another student was disciplined for “being rude to a minicab driver”, while five freshers admitted having a party on the roof of Ship Street and were made to pay for re-tiling. “Drinking excessively in the college bar” left one undergraduate with a formal warning.

The most unusual offence was a £60 damages charge for two students who threw a framed picture out of a room while drunk. Another entry from April 2013 recounts how one student was forced to return a traffic sign and apologise for having stolen it the previous night.

[caption id="attachment_45636" align="alignleft" width="384"]Wine cellar of Jesus College, one of the primary sources of proctoral woe. PHOTO//Jorge Royan Wine cellar of Jesus College, one of the primary sources of proctoral woe.
PHOTO//Jorge Royan[/caption]

Causing a fire hazard was another common offence – the University’s response: “Summons, suspended fine, confiscation of toaster and requirement to watch security video.” Students also found themselves in hot water for “rudeness to staff.”

Elsewhere, a pair of undergraduates at Teddy Hall were banned from future room ballots “due to repeated and serious violations of smoking violations [sic.]” Smoking is currently forbidden on the college premises and enforcement of this rule raised the college £861 pounds during the 2012/2013 academic year. Damage to college property brought in a further £510 in fines while drunkenness and miscellaneous offences led to an additional £180. In total approximately £1551 of fines were levied on Teddy Hall students during the same period.

The Dean added in his report that: “Incidents of drunken behaviour have been less frequent than in recent years but there have been many reports of violation of the smoking prohibition, a small number of cases of reported marijuana use, shisha pipe use and attempts to avoid detection of smoking by covering smoke alarms.” He proposed an on-the-spot fine of £25 for all offenders as a remedy.

Mansfield College levied considerably fewer fines, with just one reported offence of vandalism in the academic year 2010/11, incurring a £20 fine. The following year there were four cases of drunken and disorderly behaviour outside college resulting in £100 in fines, 13 cases of excessive noise in rooms carrying a fine of £10 each and two instances of “disregarding college rules” carrying £25 and £30 fines respectively.

At least four students were fined £100 for “drunk and disorderly behaviour outside college” while, the following year, one student was fined £10 for “drunkenness” and another £100 for infringing the IT rules.

Harris Manchester College also responded to The Oxford Student’s FOI request, providing redacted copies of disciplinary hearings concerning undergraduates in order to protect their identities. The first concerned an undergraduate who had failed penal collections and subsequently dropped out, while the second detailed the situation of an undergraduate who had failed to meet the residence requirements of the University.

“More minor disciplinary issues dealt with purely at decanal level would not be recorded anywhere and tend to be rare at HMC in any case,” said Tutor for Graduates and Secretary to the Governing Body, Dr Eric Eve.

But not all colleges were as transparent with their disciplinary measures. Exeter College’s Rector Frances Cairncross, in a letter to this paper, wrote: “We confirm that we do hold information falling within the scope of your request [but] in our view it would be unfair to disclose such personal information because it may have unjustified adverse affects on the students concerned and students have a reasonable expectation that their information will not be disclosed.”

“We do not consider there to be any justification for disclosure by reason of such information being in the public interest,” she added.

Other colleges do not retain any records of disciplinary offences at all, or destroy the records after a certain period of time. Among these were Queen’s, Somerville, University, St Hilda’s, Wadham, St John’s and St Benet’s Hall.

[caption id="attachment_45633" align="alignright" width="350"]PHOTO//activefree PHOTO//activefree[/caption]

St John’s professor AJ Parker explained: “The vast majority of decanal cases produce a letter which is placed on a student’s file for a specific period of time. At the end of that time the case is considered closed and the letter removed from the file in accordance with data protection provisions.”

Professor Werner Jeanrond, Master of St Benet’s Hall, said: “There have not been any formal reports recorded with regard to disciplinary student issues.”

The University’s central Freedom of Information service also responded to a broader request concerning discipline of individual students and student clubs. Though disciplinary hearing minutes were exempt under privacy laws, the Proctor’s Oration for the academic years 2009/10-present unveiled disciplinary offences including plagiarism, mobile phone use in exams and harassment against fellow members of the University.

The year 2010 saw five students fined £80 each for raucous behaviour post-exams, and four cases of students forging university documents. Another five students were hit with fines between £30 and £40 for taking mobile phones into the exam hall and the Proctors recovered £4,457 in library fines and damages during the academic year. One student was fined £400 for “misuse of IT facilities.”

The next year the Proctors raked in £7,258 in library fines and damages, including £150 for vandalism, £100 for taking a mobile phone into an exam and five fines between £80-£100 for rowdy behaviour post-exams.

The 2012 Proctor’s report revealed that £5647 was recovered through library offences, while one student was fined £25 for lending his bodcard to another. In 2013, the most recent report, the Proctors made £8,507 from library fines and damages, £90 in fines from students who brought revision material into exams, £100 from two students who brought mobile phones into exams and one £120 fine for “misbehaviour” after exams.

More than twelve colleges failed to respond to FOI requests within the statutory 20 day limit while at the time of publication Balliol, Oriel, New, Corpus Christi and St Hugh’s failed to respond at all.

Some colleges appeared unaware as to how to process FOI requests with one college officer admitting: “We never actually read the emails.”

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Booming salaries for Oxford University officials

Oxford is not known for coming second best. It’s ranked highest in The Times and The Guardian league tables and it attracts some of the finest minds from around the world. But now it has something else to shout about – it employs the highest-paid university official in the country.

In The Guardian’s recent comparison of pay across UK universities, Oxford endowment manager Sandra Robertson topped the table.

Her salary of £683,000 last year – not including expenses claims of £43,665 – left the competition trailing behind, with the next highest-paid, the Vice-Chancellor, taking home £474,000.

The new government’s focus on the pay of top officials – including publishing the salaries of all civil servants earning over £150,000 – has focused attention on the pay and perks of Oxford’s senior administrators.

Spending on the fundraiser

With gardens to the front and side, seven bedrooms, a drawing room, sitting room, dining room and kitchen/breakfast room, there is surely no shortage of people who would like to live in the substantial North Oxford residence that was put on the market in 2004. The main barrier would probably be the price on the front of the estate agent’s brochure – £1.25 million.

But for the University this did not prove an obstacle – and they became the proud owner of the property in 2005, for £1 million. Unbeknown to Oxford’s academics – and even its governing body – the house soon had a new occupant.

Jon Dellandrea, an outgoing career fundraiser from Canada, was hired from the University of Toronto to be Oxford’s first head of development and external affairs. He arrived with great fanfare in 2005, with then Vice-Chancellor John Hood saying that “Oxford is very fortunate to have been able to attract someone of the calibre of Jon Dellandrea.”

But dons soon started asking questions: Who had appointed Dellandrea? What was his salary? Who set it? And now – almost two years after he left Oxford in summer 2008 – the veil of secrecy still refuses to lift.

Our revelation about his University-owned home this week has, however, provoked anger from dons – showing that Dellandrea remains a divisive figure.

One member of Council, the University’s governing body, said: “Dellandrea was not dealt with by Council. The Senior Salaries Committee doesn’t tell  Council anything worth knowing. We didn’t know about the house. The Pro-Vice-Chancellors in those dark ages were just appointed by the Vice-Chancellor. Now there is a procedure for this and a selection panel.”

Another senior academic said: “There wasn’t a procedure in place for appointing him, so it was done.”

Dellandrea also regularly used a chauffeur to go about his University business.

A University spokesperson said: “In the course of University business, senior officers, including Pro-Vice-Chancellors, are able to make use of a University vehicle and a driver where necessary.

“The University does not employ full-time drivers or chauffeurs.”

Students have also questioned the University’s remuneration decisions.

Hannah Thompson, co-ordinator of the Oxford Anti-Cuts Campaign, said: “It’s really inappropriate for someone to spend £1m on a house. It’s a ridiculous luxury that the University can’t afford – especially [the use of] a chauffeur on top of a seven-bedroom house.

“I’m interested to know how they would justify investing in such a large house.”

The spokesperson defended Dellandrea’s conditions of employment.

She said: “The address you are referring to was bought for the University’s investment portfolio and still remains in the possession of the University.
“It is managed in the same way as its other similar properties and is currently let out at a commercial rate.”

She would not be drawn on who appointed Dellandrea or his salary, commenting: “The University does not make public the terms and conditions of an individual’s employment without that individual’s consent.

“All Pro-Vice-Chancellors report directly to the Vice-Chancellor.”

Booming salaries

But Dellandrea is not the only Oxford official to have benefited from the University’s largesse.

Oxford pays more than 135 non-clinical staff more than £100,000 a year, according to the University’s latest accounts.

Former Vice-Chancellor John Hood earned £327,000 in his last year in the job, including pension contributions. This made him the sixth highest-paid VC in the country, according to The Guardian’s investigation.

This newspaper revealed in Michaelmas that the VC also lives in a University-owned property, which is worth £3.5 million.

This comes in stark contrast to the government’s desire to cut public sector pay and perks.

In a letter sent to universities across the country a fortnight ago, ministers Vince Cable and David Willetts wrote: “We are expecting [our department]… to apply restraint to all aspects of pay and bonuses with a lead being given by senior staff. We expect universities and colleges will wish to do the same.”

Salary secrecy

The Oxford Student this week asked all of Oxford’s college heads – and some of the central University’s top administrators – whether they would voluntarily reveal their salaries.

Just four heads of houses responded with their salaries – even so, revealing a gap of over £20,000 between the lowest and highest paid.

Sir Ivor Crewe at Univ was paid £91,742 last year, with Merton’s Dame Jessica Rawson (£86,912), Wadham’s Sir Neil Chalmers (£80,052) and Green Templeton’s Colin Bundy (£70,000) coming behind.

Frances Cairncross, Exeter’s Rector, said: “This is not information that I want to publish. My full employment costs are annually approved by Governing Body in the College’s management accounts.”

But Thompson questioned why heads of houses were reluctant to publish their salaries.

“It makes institutions look very dishonest when they don’t respond to investigations into pay. Why would you hide it? Are you ashamed of it?” she said.

None of the University officials contacted – including all Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Finance Director Giles Kerr, Development Director Sue Cunningham and Public Affairs Director Jeremy Harris – replied to our enquiry.

The University said that it was treating the emails as a request under the Freedom of Information Act. A spokesperson said that the individuals would need to consult each other before deciding whether or not to make their salaries public.

One senior academic questioned the University’s reluctance to answer the questions this week. He said: “They’re hiding behind the figleaf of calling it a Freedom of Information request, which it wasn’t.”

Similarly, the University this week refused to publish a copy of a report into Jon Dellandrea’s conditions of employment carried out by Oxford’s internal Audit and Scrutiny Committee.

A spokesperson said: “As the Audit and Scrutiny Committee report is not publicly available, the Press Office cannot provide you with a copy of it.”