It’s now been almost a month since we took over as your students’ union officers and we decided it was time for an update.
We’ve been very busy settling in: developing working relationships with students and staff, attending our first committee meetings (remotely), and investigating how we can go about achieving both collective and individual goals during our year in office. However, one of our primary responsibilities has been participating in the University-level discussions about how the pandemic is going to affect the coming academic year.
We are dedicated to representing student voices and maintaining transparency throughout these processes. So, we want to update you on what we’ve been working on so far and inform you about the various ways in which we plan to engage with students and the wider community going forward.
What are our priorities?
Our top priority throughout the past month has been to lobby for student safety and welfare within the university. We have also been addressing specific concerns which have been brought to us. Whilst working to ensure that students feel safe, comfortable and welcomed (back) to University, we have been prioritising these key areas:
Ensure that the financial burden of the pandemic is not shifted onto students
Work with the University to ensure any communication to students is as clear as possible
Secure commitments from the University to protect students in the case of a second lockdown
Support students who are returning for the second exam period or who have been in Cambridge throughout the pandemic
Push for a fair confirmation process for offer-holders
Ensure that the University does not impose punitive disciplinary measures on students
Call for a unified approach across the Collegiate University in addressing concerns posed by the pandemic
Build staff-student solidarity to unite our community in calling for solutions that do not result in increased risks, burdens and insecurity for University members
What are we currently doing?
Working with the University
We sit on a large number of committees and working groups (a grand total of 79 between us) to contribute to University-level discussions and decisions. These include the several specific Taskforces which have been set up by the University to deal with the pressing challenges of the pandemic. In these, we have been working with the University to develop a variety of measures for the coming year, such as their Public Health campaign. Throughout this process, we have been advocating for solutions which prioritise students’ safety and wellbeing, as well as bringing specific students’ concerns to these meetings so that they can be immediately addressed.
Consulting with Students
Students will have received communication from both colleges and the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education about the changes taking place this academic year, but arrangements are still in the process of being confirmed. We are very mindful of the fact that people might have a variety of concerns and questions, which is why we are determined to keep consulting with students, unions and other stakeholders to better inform the work we are currently doing to input into the University’s decisions. We have already been meeting with representatives from the International Students’ Campaign to discuss provision for returning students over the coming months, and Ben and Aastha have also hosted their first Presidents’ Forum focused on pandemic-related issues in colleges. We plan to sustain this consultation process in the following ways:
- We have created a google form which you can use to anonymously send us any ongoing or specific concerns you currently have about studying at the University in light of the pandemic: https://forms.gle/qAnerPvBgL7NRW61A.
- We will be hosting consultations with international students, J/MCR reps and cultural society chairs in the coming week to discuss concerns related to international students and college issues. These will take place at 2-3pm on Tuesday August 11th and 5-6pm on Wednesday August 12th to allow for attendees from different time zones, so please attend the one which best suits you! The Facebook event and Zoom links can be found here:
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1191551657879560/
We will also be consulting with campaigns, unions and other student groups to address any concerns about the steps taken by the University to address the pandemic, in an acknowledgement of the fact that concerns are broadly interconnected across the University community.
Freshers’ Week is going to look slightly different this year due to the pandemic. We’ve been working closely with JCRs and MCRs to develop plans for freshers’ week which still generate fun and a sense of community. These are currently in the works but we will be posting updates as soon as we can.
We have also been planning for a virtual freshers’ fair! More information about what the fair will look like this year can be found here: https://www.cambridgesu.co.uk/opportunities/societies/freshersfair/
The sign-up form for societies can be found here: https://www.cambridgesu.co.uk/opportunities/societies/freshersfair/booking/
We will be hosting a socially-distanced picnic to bring together students who are still in Cambridge over the summer! This will be taking place on Friday August 14th at 4pm on Parker’s Piece. Please do come along for some relaxed in-person socialising and a chance to meet your sabbs and other students!
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1217358911943494/
Check out the coronavirus page on our Cambridge SU website for relevant resources and guidance: https://www.cambridgesu.co.uk/support/coronavirus/
If you need support during this period, please don’t hesitate to contact the Student Advice Service who offer free and confidential support for students at the University: www.cambridgesu.co.uk/advice/.