Meet your President (PG), Anjum!

I’ve recently stepped into my role as the new Postgraduate President of the SU after finishing an MPhil in English at Murray Edwards College. Alongside Zak Coleman, my Undergraduate counterpart, I lead the sabbatical officer team, attend University committees where I represent the interests of students, and work on campaigns that improve the student experience.

With hopefully what has been the worst of the pandemic behind us, Cambridge SU is entering into another new and exciting year. This years’ officer team will be prioritising student mental health and wellbeing, access and equality, urgent climate action, and the working conditions of doctoral students alongside supporting the new and returning members of our community as they arrive at their colleges for in-person teaching. We’re all really looking forward to working closely with the student body, and extending the reach of the SU so that all students feel included and impacted by its work over these coming months. 


Who am I and what do I do? 

 

I’ve recently stepped into my role as the new Postgraduate President of the SU after finishing an MPhil in English at Murray Edwards College. Alongside Zak Coleman, my Undergraduate counterpart, I lead the sabbatical officer team, attend University committees where I represent the interests of students, and work on campaigns that improve the student experience. I also act as a trustee of Cambridge SU, which is particularly exciting given that it is such a new institution. I’ll also be liaising with MCR presidents and other student leaders at democratic meetings over the course of the year, making sure that they are supported in their work. Overall, I’m here to protect the rights of postgraduate students and to further their interests within the collegiate University. 

 

What have I been working on so far?

 

When I joined the SU at the beginning of July this year I had the pleasure of spending time with my predecessor Aastha Dahal whose work had inspired me to run for this position in the first instance. Together we made sure that I had the details for all of the projects and campaigns that she had been working on so that I could continue this work during the year ahead. The SU has been offering a huge array of training sessions for the new sabbatical officer team which have been extremely useful in terms of swapping knowledge and skills between different team members. I’ve now been introduced to most of the key contacts with whom I’ll be working with in the University and have been preparing to take my seat on University Council. I am also most of the way through my campaign planning which I view as the most important aspect of my role as this is how the officer team will create real change for students. I’m so excited to deliver on these campaigns and to see the positive improvements to the student experience that occur as a result of campaign wins. 

 

What are my plans for the rest of the year? 

 

I am very fortunate to be working with Amelia Jabry (Postgraduate AEP Officer) over this coming year. Both of us wrote our manifestos with an intense focus on the financial constraints faced by many postgraduate students. Together we will get the postgraduate application fee waived (making coming to Cambridge more accessible to new students), increase the accessibility to hardship funding, and ensure that the University is pushing administrators to advertise all available pots of funding on their new funding portal. 

 

In addition to all of this, we will do some work around improving doctoral supervision in terms of professionalising the supervisory relationship and making sure that there are effective complaint and redressal mechanisms in place for when, in unfortunate circumstances, this relationship goes wrong. We will also work to ensure that teaching is allocated fairly in colleges and departments so that PhD students are empowered to choose whether or not they want to take on teaching duties. There is also a huge focus on mental health this year and I want to make certain that PG students are given due consideration in the University’s strategic review of mental health. 

 

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