Students at Balliol, one Oxford University’s most prestigious colleges, banned the Christian Union (CU) from its Freshers’ Fair, citing homophobia and neo-colonialism as its reasoning.
The CU was banned from attending and recruiting student members at the college’s Freshers’ Fair this year after organisers said that their presence could cause harm to communities “struggling to feel welcome in Oxford.”
President of the JCR, Hubert Au, wanted the event to be a “secular environment.”
Au wrote, “Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism”.
The decision was reached through discussions with the JCR Welfare subcommittee.
In the end, a general, multi-faith religious stall was allowed at the fair on the understanding that no representatives from any of the faith societies staffed it. There was a vote by students at the college, on Sunday that said the decision was a ” violation of free speech and religious freedom.” The motion prohibited the barring of official religious societies from future freshers’ fairs.