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30 Years On: BAME JCR Presidents Recreate Bullingdon Photo to Celebrate Diversity and Champion Equality

8th June 2018

Pembroke undergraduates Carolina Earle (JCR President 2017-18) and Hope Oloye (JCR President 2016-17) took part in a photoshoot that restaged an infamous 1988 Bullingdon Club photograph on Christ Church stairs to celebrate the diversity of this year’s cohort of JCR Presidents at the University of Oxford.

Prescom (the committee of JCR Presidents in the University) commented on their Facebook page, ‘In 1988, a photograph was taken. A photograph which embodied a world of inherited privilege, the excesses of elitism, and the exclusive structure of social and political power. An image that does not accurately reflect our view of contemporary British society.’

Though not officially recognised by the University, the Bullingdon Club still exists today and remains an invitation-only, all-male dining club. When the 1988 photograph went public in 2010, two members imaged, Boris Johnson and David Cameron, were then Mayor of London and Prime Minister respectively.

Today, BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) JCR representatives want to showcase and celebrate how far things have come in the 30 years since the original photo was taken. 9 BAME students have been elected this term as JCR presidents for the upcoming academic year, and 4 others hold their presidencies until Hilary term 2019. BAME individuals therefore comprise 41% of the new 2018/19 cohort of undergraduate JCR presidents, despite making up 17.9% of the UK-domiciled student population.

The committee of Presidents wanted to create ‘a photograph which represents the victories borne out of an ongoing struggle, the opening of doors once firmly closed, and the growing commitment to diversity in the halls of power. It is an image that, we hope, signifies how far this institution has come in the intervening years, and anticipates the future progress yet to be made.’

This year Hope has also established the Afro-Caribbean Tyler Prize, which is a student-led access and outreach initiative that enhances key academic skills, rewards exceptional writing and builds networks between high achieving black students of different ages. The essay competition aims to raise the aspirations and attainment of Afro-Caribbean students who are capable of academic excellence, aiming to equip them with the tools and confidence to reach top universities.

1988

2018

Recreated Photo Credit: He Liu
Original Photo Credit: Nick Mutch