Pembroke students vote to keep scholars’ ballot

The motion won by just 7 votes

Cambridge Cantab JCR meritocracy Oxbridge Pembroke scholars ballot

Pembroke College has voted in favour of keeping their scholars' ballot system, by a margin of 7 votes. The referendum resulted in 121 votes in favour of keeping the existing system of a scholars' ballot, beating the 114 votes against. The referendum was held along with the JPC elections (Pembroke's version of a JCR – the Junior Parlour Committee), which mustered a high turnout of 70%.

This means the maintenance of a system of scholars rooms, in which students who are awarded a first in their summer exams have the opportunity to pick from 20 to 25 rooms in College, which are often more spacious and covetable.

Hit the library Pembroke students, your set hangs in the balance

In the summer of 2017, 24 scholar’s rooms were available. However, out of the 52 Foundation Scholars, just 16 opted to change rooms after their results. Similarly, of the 39 College Scholars, only 10 opted to enter the Scholars' Ballot.

In response to the referendum result, the current JPC president, Oliver Hulme, has stated, "We decided early on that the only way to resolve the mixed feelings on the scholars' ballot was to take it to a referendum. The result was very close and with an impressive 70% undergraduate turnout we now have strong footing to improve the balloting system more generally, but the JPC shall stay true to the outcome and will not be pressing college to remove the scholars' ballot at this time".

Pembroke came 4th in the Tompkins Table in 2017

Whilst the referendum was not binding, if the motion had been voted against, the JPC had committed to applying pressure on the authorities responsible for accommodation in order to uphold the result. Yet it can be firmly stated that the scholars' ballot will remain for the foreseeable future, as chosen by the student body.

Other colleges that still operate a scholars' ballot system include St. John's, Christ's, Fitzwilliam, Peterhouse and Corpus Christi. St. Catharine's previously used an academic balloting system for third year accommodation, but after a referendum it was removed after pressure was applied from the JCR onto the academic body of the college.