Hatfield College JCR rejects motion to change JCR President title to ‘Senior Student’


Hatfield College has voted against the motion to allow the JCR President the choice between titles of “Senior Man,” “Senior Woman,” or “Senior Student.”

The vote in favour of rejection, which took place at Hatfield’s JCR meeting on Sunday, means the title of “Senior Man” remains.

There was an unusually low attendance at the meeting, with only 37 people attending—including the executive.

The motion, proposed by Senior Man Robert Double and seconded by two LGBTQ+ Reps and a Welfare Officer, debated a motion to introduce the titles of “Senior Woman” and “Senior Student.”

12 members of Hatfield College were in favor of the motion; 19 against, with six members abstaining.

Hatfield student, Meg Kneafsey, said: “It’s good to see the JCR trying to become more inclusive. In this instance, it was decided that the motion created as many issues as it addressed.”

Current Senior Man and proposer of the motion Robert Double previously told The Tab: “I think that the amendment proposed strikes the right balance between retaining a unique and celebrated characteristic of Hatfield’s history, whilst also appreciating the view of all the college community.”

The motion sparked off important debate in the Hatfield JCR. Robert Double supported the motion, arguing that passing the motion would be beneficial to the JCR. Other members of the JCR reportedly argued that “Senior Student” is a “wishy-washy” term.

Some students were also reportedly concerned with the low attendance of the meeting.

A main theme in the debate, whether giving a choice to JCR Presidents over their title, provided a good alternative for someone who wants to maintain the heritage of the College but doesn’t identify with a gender (or is transgender).

The image of Hatfield College from outside the university was also a topic that was brought up, with the concern that people may regard Hatfield College is being antiquated.

As a result of the verdict, Hatfield College therefore remains the only Durham college to retain the sole use of the title “Senior Man.”

Previous JCR President of Hatfield College Maria Neary attempted to change the title of her position from its current title to “JCR President” in the 2013/2014 academic year.

Hatfield College has not followed in the steps University College JCR, who voted in July last year to give their JCR president the option to use the title “Senior Man,” “Senior Woman,” or “Senior Student.” The motion was passed with 118 yes votes to 58 opposing the motion.

In Easter term 2013, St Chad’s College JCR also voted to give the JCR president to title themselves “Senior Man” or “Senior Woman,” with the motion being passed by a large majority.

Photograph: Durham University

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