Queens’ dean ballot-blackmails students
All in the name of “welfare”
The Queens' bar was packed on Tuesday night when the majority of the student body attended an emergency meeting, having been told their rooms for next year depended on it. The "shadow ballot", a parallel, online and anonymously run overview of the room ballot, helped many decide which room to pick and to coordinate with their friends.
This year a lot of drama surrounded the shadow ballot, which was reported to have enabled bullying and intimidation, for example in cases where certain students felt excluded whilst whole friendship groups took up staircases.
It was the final straw for the dean, Professor Martin Dixon, who has always been opposed to the shadow ballot. He put his foot down in a monumental way: asking students to either bring forward those in charge of the shadow ballot, or have him randomise the entire ballot, which would leave all students with other rooms than their preferred ones. This was the choice presented by Dixon to JCR president Hope Whitehead on Tuesday afternoon, which she successively passed on to popular vote amongst students.
This unsympathetic method of discipling the students deliberately pits them against each other and tests their loyalty: many were outraged that the dean was trying to make them rat out individuals in charge of a shadow ballot that most had used.
In a vote it was decided to give in to the dean's demands, investigate who was in charge of the shadow ballot and ask them to come forward. It has yet to be seen whether the people in question will actually hand themselves in, but if they don't and randomisation occurs, many students are prepared to protest the Dean and his harsh ruling. The Dean has made it explicit that he would respond to any strike action or protest by immediately scrapping the ballot. One student said she was disappointed with the college; "before I would've always recommended Queens' to someone applying to Cambridge but now I'm starting to doubt whether this is actually a 'friendly' college at all".
Many also pointed to the irony that the dean had put this inflammatory, stressful dilemma forth in the name of "welfare". Whilst most acknowledged that the shadow ballot may have caused issues, Dixon was seen to be treating everybody like children by asking them to snitch on a naughty classmate.
Queens' became renowned for its outdated ways of interacting with students when Eugene Terentjev, a NatSci DoS, e-mailed his students warning them of the perils of having a "good time". Fun is also the chosen enemy of the dean, who has made it his personal mission in recent years to crack down on college "bops" and increase disciplinary measures generally.