Hello everyone, I hope the beginning of term has been going well despite the terrible weather! While a lot has been happening, I’ve been terrible at updating you all on what I’ve been up to, so here’s a roundup of all my updates from the past few months.
We won! University’s Endowment Fund Restructuring:
Throughout the past few months, the SU has been working alongside a group of academics, students and staff to stop the University’s proposed restructuring of their Endowment Fund. The restructuring, proposed by University Council, was going to remove the small amount of oversight students and staff have over the University’s investments. The restructuring would have made future campaigns for issues such as divestment from fossil fuels or arms almost impossible by making it incredibly hard for students to sit on the proposed Body. However, through the huge power of staff and students rallying together, sending emails, writing flysheets and articles we showed the University that we will not accept being shut out of these all-important decisions!
Student Organising around Divestment brings huge results!
Over the past months we have also seen the result of years of student organising around College divestment decisions. First we had Pembroke and Trinity announce divestment, since then we’ve heard Selwyn improve their commitment, Newnham announce divestment and Jesus Climate Justice Campaign release their in-depth research on the College’s investment portfolio. While the University has already committed to full divestment, students are still working to scrutinise the Collegiate University’s environmental commitments, while proving how effective student mobilisation is. While facing the immense difficulties of the pandemic, huge groups of students have remained active, engaged and energised to fight for a University that prioritises climate and social justice.
Launch of UCU-SU #Justice4CollegeSupervisors Campaign:
On the 16th April UCU launched their campaign for College Supervisors. The campaign has come out of extended negotiations with the University over pay, precarity and formal contracts for hourly-paid supervisors. We have been working together to fight for a better supervision system that works not only for students but for all the staff who put a huge amount of work into delivering them. The petition launched has been sent to all Senior Tutors, encouraging them to listen to the demands of the staff they themselves employ.
Rent and Housing wins!
In March, the sabbatical team met with our local MP, Daniel Zeichner, to discuss many of the campaigns we’ve been working on. We specifically discussed the situation of private renters in Cambridge who may be having to rent accommodation in Cambridge but not being able to use it due to lockdown. He committed to emailing private student letting agencies asking for more flexibility around rent during the pandemic and resultantly NIDO student accommodation reduced their rent by 50% for students who were unable to access their rooms due to the pandemic. This is a huge win for the SU and student renters who have been campaigning for more flexibility over rent during the past few months.
These were just a few of the things I’ve been getting up to over the last few months. With some great wins under our belts I hope we can continue working together with students to fight for a University which truly prioritises its students and staff. Despite exam season looming, we will continue to campaign so please feel free to join any of our SU campaigns, we’d love to see more people getting involved in these inspiring student movements!