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The JCR in 2019

As this year’s committee now reaches the end of its tenure, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Fernandes administration, ably supported by the committee – a full committee, I would point out – in their new roles. I’m really excited to see what the upcoming year brings.

Before we get onto the business of today’s JCR meeting, I wanted to reflect on the past year. Not once in the first year of my time at John’s did I think I would become JCR President. Indeed, I didn’t run in the original election. But I hope that by running in a by-election, I have encouraged some of you to not turn your back on these roles too early on. JCR roles make such a difference to our experience here and I can honestly say that I have loved every minute of it. Except perhaps when the Senior Dean suggested that I might need to be more organised!

This year, we were given capitation of around £40,000 from College. I think it’s indicative of the huge amount of trust both the College – and we as students – place in the JCR to spend it sensibly, something we should remember and work to maintain. Imagine, students being trusted with money…

With the JCR’s permission, we have helped to fund around 10 plays and musicals, 3 films, an art show, 2 magazines, several societies, and we also “Made the Vac Great Again!”. It is amazing how many different student projects we have been able to support.

I am pleased that people are using meetings to ask more questions about motions and too that we have introduced (optional) closed eye voting, to try and ensure that people really have a say about where our money goes.

But to add a small caveat. Questions are great, but I would urge everyone to remember that when asking them, please be respectful of the different projects and their aims, in such a way as you would expect if you were asking for money. Propose amendments if you think the money is too much, but do so in a way that enables consensus to be met.

The same goes for motion proposers – involve as many John’s people as you can, think about how more can be involved or benefit from your proposal, and be reasonable in the money that you are asking for. Then we can continue to ensure that JCR meetings remain open to proposals and not hostile to these motions.

Thanks to the extreme generosity through our Charity Levy, we have donated over £3,500 to 23 charities this year and over £7,500 went toward Reach Scholarships, supporting students from low-income countries come to John’s. Jahnavi and Freya as Charities Reps have also been brilliant in helping me to fulfil my manifesto pledge for stash, raising around £500 for a charity tackling homelessness in Oxford. We may now all look the same, but at least we’re cosy.

The JCR website’s transformation has meant we have beaten College in providing the ability to pay for things by card, and we’ve centralised and refreshed all the information you need on the JCR. Thanks to all of the Website Committee, and Ben especially for leading this project – the upgrade hasn’t gone unnoticed by College. Obviously because they’re jealous.

We now have Sunday Brunch in Hall with a full millennial style menu! Definitely my biggest achievement. We have a refurbished JCR Office that temporarily turned into Primark – it’ll be available for drop-ins and meetings into the future. We have had 9 amazing Bops so far, only 4 of which I can remember from when I was Entz. Food is abound in John’s too – we love it when it’s free, but also love the work of Siobhan and Greg for Guest Dinners, and of Karen, Caroline and Jahnavi for the dinners celebrating our diverse community.

We had an amazing Arts Week thanks to the work of our Art Reps, Ollie and Mungo, and their committee. Thanks must go to Tom and Amelia too for their Welfare Week, along with all the other Welfare events this year. Maddie worked extremely hard, along with subject reps, on the academic feedback process earlier this year. Alfie has now organised two Freshers’ Weeks – thanks must go to all of the committee and helpers for their amazing work with a special mention to Morgane, for the amazing non-alcoholic Entz events this year. 

Work goes on behind the scenes too in limiting the increase in rent and food costs; thanks go to Ben, Cas and Alfie for their help with this.

Looking into the future, we might one day be a more hi-tech college – or so I’m told. Online BOD card top-up is on the way, and electronic vacation residence application once it gets over the delay. The Intranet is taking shape and will eventually host a new rooms database and electronic forms. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of an uphill struggle for Phil to take on with colour printing…

I can’t thank everyone individually now, nor do I think I am even aware of all the work that Officers, Reps and others put into this community. Please do remember to say thanks to the people who put on events and run the schemes that we’re sometimes more likely to notice the absence of, rather than their presence.

To wrap up, it’s been an absolute privilege to head the JCR for the last two terms. I want to extend a huge thank you to all the Officers and Reps who have served in 2019. At times, it does feel as if you could make some of these roles a part-time job, if not a full-time one! Also, a thank you to you all is due for helping us meet the dreaded quorum.

My marriage to the JCR is officially over;
I now won’t know what to do to procrastinate;
and my relationship status can be set to single again. 

With that, here’s to 2020!

Harry Sugden
President 2019

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