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Uk News

Oxford: freshers’ fair upset for Christian Union

In early October, Balliol College Oxford’s Junior Common Room (JCR) committee took the decision to prevent the Christian Union (CU) representatives from attending its freshers’ fair and having a stall on the grounds that they wished the fair to be a safe and secular space.

UCCF / en

Figure Image
Balliol College | photo: iStock

The Cherwell student newspaper quoted the JCR as saying they couldn’t guarantee that every major belief system would be represented. The editorial of the Daily Telegraph commented that the move ensured Balliol’s ‘silliness is indubitable.’ However, the situation was amicably resolved following a JCR motion to ensure that religious groups will always be represented at fresh-ers’ fairs in the future.

Rare experience

This type of incident has been a pretty rare experience for CUs on campus. Most Student Unions (SUs) are fair-minded and enjoy a good relationship with the CU in their university. University CUs provide a caring, supportive community to 20,000 students across the country each year. As such, they make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of students from many different backgrounds and cultures. Last year 40 CUs were either nominated or awarded SU awards for their contribution to university life with Durham winning the Best Society Event.

The Revd Richard Cunningham, director of UCCF, said: ‘We are however concerned that the current desire to provide safe spaces on campus does not infringe on the core liberties of freedom of speech and freedom of association which are surely foundational to the university experience and indeed to basic human flourishing.’