Trevelyan College is to hold a referendum on whether to make their president sabbatical. If they vote in favour, they will be the penultimate DSO college to ‘go sabbatical’ with their JCR leader role.
Already this year two elections have been held for the role. The first saw the only candidate lose, as the JCR voted to re-open nominations, and in the second nobody ran.
Current JCR president Giorgio Rand said of the motion to make the role sabbatical: “The idea came up for us 16 years ago. We decided that, because it had been around for a while, we should hold a vote just to get an answer.”
The issue of sabbatical presidency has been contentious in the past. Many students fear that sabbatical leadership could cause the JCR to be headed up by someone who doesn’t understand student issues.
To counteract these worries, Rand explained that Trevs have included “a clause that the JCR exec has to remain neutral.”
There is a logic to making the role sabbatical, as according to Rand, “The DSO framework is promulgated on colleges having sabbatical JCR Presidents – there is a job description for one within the framework.”
The DSO framework is a document that regulates the executive bodies of all student organisations, including JCRs. Despite being crucial to their functioning, the framework has not been updated since its inception in 2010.
The issue of sabbatical presidency has been contentious in the past.
Though the role does not call explicitly for the organisation head to be sabbatical, the workload they are given assumes one. Rand explained that Trevs and Castle, the only remaining non-sabbatical colleges in the framework, both have “large exec numbers to split the workload” of the position.
The referendum will be conducted online for Trevelyan College students from February 9th until February 16th.
Though traditionally the role has been filled by a student, more and more colleges have voted to make their JCR leaders sabbatical in recent years.
Hatfield recently ratified their motion to make the role sabbatical, after the role was changed to sabbatical for a trial period running through this academic year.
Image: Durham University