Balliol JCR have decided to follow through with a motion which is set to transform the way finalists’ rooms are priced. The ‘Dynamic Rent Banding’, which was proposed at the last JCR General Meeting, aims to ensure that the price of every room matches its value.Currently, rooms are divided into seven ‘bands’ of prices which students can then choose through a balloting system. The new arrangement aims to price rooms according to their popularity among students. Therefore, rooms which are picked by students higher up on the ballot will have a greater premium that those rooms which are chosen last on the ballot.The system was proposed after concerns that many students were paying too much for the quality of their room under the current system, particularly those at the bottom of the accommodation ballot. The new system hopes to match price and quality more effectively.Thomas Wainford, Welfare Officer at Balliol, told Cherwell, “The current system places rooms in seven price bands according to their quality, but there is quite a large variation in quality within bands, the bands are not of equal spacing, and some rooms are clearly misbanded as the old banding was done on a fairly arbitrary basis by the accommodation manager and the Welfare and Housing Officers. The new system aims, over a number of years, to gradually change the price of rooms, so each room will have an individual price, moving up or down depending on the position is it chosen in the ballot, in order to accurately reflect its value.”However, following its initial proposal, Balliol Philosophy Fellow Dr David Wallace expressed concerns that in the long run the system would mean that those rooms at the top and bottom of the ballot would increase in price while those in the middle bands would in fact decrease, to the detriment of students from lower income levels. Balliol JCR was provided with a series of graphs which illustrated Dr Wallace’s concerns.However, a unanimous JCR vote this weekend ensured that the system will still be proposed by the student body to the College. Alex Bartram, Balliol JCR President, told Cherwell, “Balliol JCR on Sunday voted unanimously to implement a change to the way room prices are calculated for finalists in an effort to make the prices of rooms better match their value. It seriously considered a concern raised by a fellow, but the final decision reflected the belief of Balliol JCR that any undesirable outcome is firstly unlikely and secondly swiftly reversible.”Bartram was keen to stress that the new system will be an “experiment”, and that the implementation of ‘Dynamic Rent Banding will therefore be monitored yearly in order to ensure that rooms are priced fairly according to their respective quality.A student who wished to remain anonymous told Cherwell, “Most students were happy to vote to try out the new system, especially because the banding system we have now just doesn’t work, and our welfare officers explained that it would be difficult and time consuming to re-band every room in the college. I think as long as it’s monitored it could be a really good way to make sure the cost of the rooms reflect their value.”This new proposal comes in the midst of negotiations with college regarding proposed rents increases of five per cent.
Emma Pizzuti Dear Editor: People tend to think that it is impossible to get involved in their government. They tend to think that it is hopeless to help out those in need. In actuality, the only impossibility is that mindset. It is really quite simple to get involved in your government. The best way is to find out what bills are on the floor of the House or the Senate and then call or email your representative to tell them you want them to support the bill or not. It will take you thirty seconds to shoot off that email and less than a minute to call. If more people did that on the daily they would see how simple it really is to get involved.There is also nothing complicated or impossible about improving living conditions for people suffering in abject poverty. Once you have gotten involved in your government it is an easy jump to advocate for those in need. Find bills that support people around the world who are struggling and get your representatives’ support. Helping people is a bipartisan issue that everyone should and can become involved in.