Reforms have been proposed to the voting system for the Professor of Poetry post at Oxford in an attempt to increase accessibility and voter participation. However, there have been criticisms that public scrutiny will discourage potential candidates.Under the new proposals it will be possible to vote online as well as in person, with the election held over a longer period of time. It is hoped that this will increase accessibility. Previously it was difficult for the electorate who live away from Oxford to vote, as voting was only possible in person in Oxford, on a single day. The reforms will apply from the next election, due to take place in mid-2010, with the winner to take on the post from that autumn.The vote is open to all Oxford graduates as members of Oxford University’s Convocation. Of around 300,000 potential voters in May’s election, less than 500 turned out to vote.The news comes after the last election in May, contended by Derek Walcott, Ruth Padel and Arvind Mehrotra, ended in farce.Walcott, a Nobel laureate, withdrew, claiming the election had “degenerated into a low and degrading attempt at character assassination”, after details of sexual harassment allegations made against him decades earlier were sent anonymously to academics in Oxford.Padel won the subsequent vote over Mehrotra, but later admitted previously sending emails related to the allegations to two journalists, and, although denying any association with the mailshot, resigned.The deputy chair of the English Faculty board, Seamus Perry, lauded the proposed reforms as a solution to this non-participation, saying, “It is good news that the election will be so much more accessible to the large community of graduates of the university that have the chance to vote for Oxford’s professor of poetry.”However, in light of May’s scandal, the campaign tactics and media attention associated with popular elections has led to some criticism of such a system, the problems of which are likely only to be exacerbated by further accessibility and voter participation.Judith Palmer, director of the Poetry Society, claimed the position’s “showbiz aspect” discourages “many excellent poets”, and that the changes “will probably increase the number… ruling themselves out.”One such poet is Clive James. He has admitted that the Professorship “is the only job I want”, but says that he would “rather throw himself off a cliff” than stand for election. James cites problems with the election process far before the Padel-Walcott debacle.Pedro Ferreira, Ruth Padel’s campaigner during the last election said, “if there is to be an election to decide who gets the post, then being able to vote online is a great idea”, but added that he was “not at all sure that elections are the best way to award the professorship“, admitting “there are problems” with such a system.The new proposals are still subject to approval by Oxford University’s Congregation of academic and administrative staff, and are due to be considered early in the new year.
Fifty-three IMCA Modifieds were complemented by 30 Northern SportMods in the finale. Curran ended the night in second with Jason Bannister grabbing third. Jim Pettit II and Jerry Flippo completed the top five. The final night of the California IMCA Speedweek saw Shane DeVolder win the IMCA Modified feature at Bakersfield Speedway, earning $1,000 and a Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot berth. (Photos by Tom Macht, www.photofinishphotos.com) Almost perfect, Garrett Jernagan raced to his fifth Karl Kustoms Northern SportMod win in six California IMCA Speedweek starts at Bakersfield Speedway. Jernagan clinched the Karl Kustoms Northern SportMod crown with his fifth $750 victory of the week. By Stephanie Deatherage Feature Results BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Aug. 15) – Shane DeVolder won the battle, Bobby Hogge IV won the war and Garrett Jernagan won both on the final night of California IMCA Speedweek presented by Hoppes Motorsports. Modifieds – 1. Shane DeVolder; 2. Bobby Hogge; 3. Ryan Daves; 4. Jim Pettit II; 5. Jerry Flippo; 6. Cody Burke; 7. Alyssa Smith; 8. Kellen Chadwick; 9. Clint Reichenbach; 10. Troy Foulger; 11. Ethan Dotson; 12. Tom Smith; 13. Gary Dutton; 14. Trevor Fitz-Gibbon; 15. Troy Morris III; 16. Kyle Heckman; 17. Gavyn Manning; 18. Jake Mayden; 19. Tim Yaeger; 20. Paul Stone. DeVolder won the IMCA Modified feature at Bakersfield Speedway, earning $1,000 and a Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot berth, while runner-up Hogge took the overall Modified tour title. DeVolder regained the lead from Alyssa Smith before a long green flag run got him into lapped traffic. Three cautions slowed the final 10 circuits but neither Hogge or Ryan Daves had anything for the leader and finished in that order behind him. Brent Curran set the tone early in a SportMod feature slowed by yellows, nailing each restart and checked out on the rest of the pack. Jernagan finally navigated his way into the lead following a lap 11 restart, holding off all challengers as the race ended green, white, checkered. SportMods – 1. Garrett Jernagan; 2. Brent Curran; 3. Jason Bannister; 4. Brock Crawford; 5. Tanner Thomas; 6. Dylan Potter; 7. James Cecil; 8. Jon McKinley; 9. Matt Mayo; 10. Chase Thomas; 11. Nathan Rolfe; 12. Chuck Weir; 13. Brandon Jennings; 14. Jarrod Mounce; 15. Austin Manzella; 16. Nick Spainhoward; 17. Todd Gomez; 18. Brylon Holder; 19. Markus Frazier; 20. Brian Baker.
Press Association And Clark did not disappoint, remaining on 44.0 penalties to take the £8,000 winner’s purse and a title that numbers Zara Phillips, Mary King, Pippa Funnell and current world number one Andrew Nicholson among its former holders. Teulere, eventing world champion 11 years ago, secured the runners-up spot on Matelot Du Grand Val because he finished closer to the cross-country optimum time of 10 minutes 10 seconds than Montgomery, riding Loughan Glen. Sussex-based Gemma Tattersall was the highest British finisher in fourth spot on Arctic Soul, which again underlined her promise as a potential contender for the Rio 2016 Olympics. She is currently part of British equestrian’s world-class performance programme. Clark, who rode Master Crusoe to seventh place at London 2012, conquered Blenheim just two hours after the Irish eventing team were crowned European junior champions in France. “I knew I had to go clear,” Clark said. “We’ve only had one showjumping rail down all year, but there was still pressure. “To win here means a huge amount. This mare is just at the right stage to be looking at the (2014) World Equestrian Games and then Rio.” Clark was second with Fenyas Elegance at Chatsworth International in Derbyshire earlier this year, and then eighth in the British Open, and she added: “The horse was such a star this week. “We knew she was in great form and peaking, but I couldn’t have asked for any more from her. I will go home now and crack open some bubbly!” Clark, who is based in Middle Barton, just eight miles from the scene of her first CCI three-star triumph, posted a clear showjumping round after closest challengers Jean Teulere and Clark Montgomery left no room for manoeuvre. Frenchman Teulere and American Montgomery both finished on their cross-country scores of 45.5 penalties, which meant Clark could not afford a mistake aboard nine-year-old chestnut mare Fenyas Elegance. Irish Olympian Aoife Clark held her nerve under intense pressure to win the Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials in Oxfordshire.