Oxford College Bans Christian Groups from Freshman Fair for Fear of Harm

By Toby Ord (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
By Toby Ord (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
JCR cited neo-colonialism and homophobia for the move

Balliol College, an Oxford college, has banned Christian Union (CU) from the fair it usually holds for freshmen.[/tweetit] The reason cited for this decision is that this move will alienate students coming from different religious backgrounds. This move, they opined, will be counted as “micro-aggression.” Balliol organizers said that Christianity, from a historical perspective, was and will continue to be used as a valid excuse for neo-colonialism and homophobia. They are afraid that students may feel unwelcome if CU set up a stall.

Oxford College Bans Christian Groups from Freshman Fair for Fear of Harm[/tweetthis]

Hubert Au, the JCR President, wrote that his organization wanted to turn the age-old event into a secular one. The students will be provided the chance to sign up for teams and clubs. JCR is the college union.

The CU shot back, replying to Au’s statements he had made concerning Christianity can be termed as inappropriate. The Christian Union correspondence told that what is inappropriate for conversing regarding Christianity can be the same for other faith groups as well. Au relented and permitted a single “multi-faith stall.” He also made the condition that no religious person of any faith would be present at the stall. No religious societies will be permitted to actively sign up students. The CU, a 150-year-old institution in its own right, declined to attend after such terms were made to them. It subsequently voted that Au's stance can only be described as a violation of religious freedom and free speech.

The JCR decision has led to many Balliol College students coming out to protest. A motion was subsequently passed which unanimously described JCR committee as one which stopped the participation of particular faith-centric organizations. Freddy Potts, the vice-president of the JCR, in a specific email exchange, told a representative of the CU that although the student body is in cognizance of having a number of CU representatives doing their work at the freshers' fair, there are concerns that freshers can be subjected to potential harm. He added that this will affect freshers who are already trying to feel comfortable in Oxford. Au said that the JCR does not want to monopolize presence of any particular belief or faith at Balliol freshers' fair. University and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF) responded that Christian Unions offer a supportive and caring community to about 20,000 students studying in the United Kingdom every year. The UCCF pointed out that about 40 unions were either awarded or nominated student union awards for contribution towards university life.


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