The instructions were in line with clause 6.1 of the College's license agreementAurelio Petrucci/Twitter

Students residing at Jesus College have been instructed to remove all internally or externally displayed flags, banners or posters from their accommodation in an email sent on Tuesday, stating that failure to do so carries the risk of eviction.

The email in question, according to a screenshot on Twitter, appears to be a development from an email sent by the College’s Head Porter on 1 March asking all students to remove all banners and flags from windows and buildings, with a deadline of 24 March set for this in an email by the Domestic Bursar on 19 March.

Aurelio Petrucci, a third-year philosophy student and former JCR President of the College, was provided with an extended deadline to remove a Labour party poster until yesterday (22/04), stating that the College will otherwise “take further action if you fail to put right the breach, which could ultimately result in the Licence agreement being terminated in line with Clause 6.1.”.

Petrucci questioned the email after he received it, calling on the College via Twitter “to reconsider this immediately, and apologise, and I can only hope that they start to listen to the student union [Cambridge SU] and stop trying to curtail our right to free speech and free expression of our identities.”

Petrucci added via Twitter that the ability “to criticise institutions”, as well as to “express one’s identity are the core features of British academia, now being trampled by coercion and threats of homelessness/eviction by a Cambridge College. This is hugely significant and we should fight it al [sic] the way!”

Petrucci told Varsity that Jesus have “add[ed] to the stress and anxiety that students are already feeling about the pandemic and their exams by threatening to evict students for exercising their basic right to self expression. This is not who we are as a College and I hope the leadership reconsiders the policy and apologises for the needless hurt they have caused.”

He continued: “while it is morally reprehensible for the leadership to threaten eviction for the exercise of our basic rights to freedom of expression, it would be even more outrageous for them to actually evict students who refuse to remove their posters. I will not be removing my posters/bunting and I just can’t see them taking action against students who aren’t harming anyone by their actions”.

A spokesperson for Jesus told CambridgeshireLive that these rules are “a long-standing clause in our license agreement”, and that they “encourage all community members to express themselves and their views, as long as it doesn’t break their license agreement or the law.”


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Jesus College tells students to remove all flags

The statement continued: “We have informed students that we will run an in-depth consultation this term with students, Fellows and staff about the most inventive and creative ways to enable this in College for the benefit of the whole community.”

This is not the first time that Jesus College have asked students to remove flags. Last month, an email sent out by the College’s leadership asked students to remove pride flags, along with all other flags and banners, as Pride Month and LGBT History Month celebrations across the University and Colleges came to an end.

This caused uproar at the time, with Joe Shaughnessy, a PhD student at the College, saying that as a queer student at the College, it left “a sour taste in [his] mouth that taking down LGBTQ+ flags is on anyone’s agenda full stop - let alone during a pandemic where college support is otherwise largely not forthcoming apparently because of strapped time and resources.”

Jesus defended their decision at the time, claiming that they allowed students to display pride flags during February by “waiv[ing] the section of a standard room license agreement which prohibits any flags to be flown for safety and maintenance reasons”, and that they were “supportive of LGBT+ History Month” and support “other LGBT+ events and initiatives throughout the year.”