Lola Olufemi makes her case for Women's OfficerLucas Chebib

Hustings for the upcoming CUSU elections were held this evening for the position of President and all sabbatical roles, excluding University Councillor.

Students, campaigners and current role-holders gathered at the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms to listen to the candidates present their policy ideas and visions for their prospective roles in statements limited to two minutes. Questions were also posed to the candidates by audience members.

All of the sabbatical roles, apart from those of President and University Councillor, are uncontested. To encourage debate, journalists from the student publications Varsity, The Cambridge Student and The Tab stood in the role of RON, 'reopen nominations'.

Education Officer
First to be contested was the role of Education Officer, whose sole candidate is Martha Krish. RON was represented by Hannah Dawson of The Tab. Krish’s speech proposed a diversification of teaching methods to cater to the needs of a broader range of students, promising to “shift styles of teaching to accommodate students different styles of learning.” The problem, she said, was particularly acute for disabled students who are “let down by the current system.” She also encouraged students to “mobilise” in order to oppose the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF): “We cannot let our legacy be that we stood by why fees were raised.”

The questions Krish received from the audience touched on the difficulties faced in representing postgraduate students who spend little time in Cambridge, and inefficient CUSU faculty representative forum. She said, "I want to be the person who makes those links".

Access and Funding Officer
The next candidate to present her ideas was Olivia Hylton-Pennant, who is standing for the role of Access and Funding Officer. In an upbeat speech, Hylton-Pennant explained that her own experience of access schemes qualified her as a candidate who “[lives] for access".

The role of RON was taken by Varsity’s very own Louis Ashworth, who raised concerns about the transparency of CUSU’s access work and communication with prospective students. Hylton-Pennant countered this by explaining her ideas to simplify the current CUSU website, or else create an entirely new website, to solve the problem of there being “no central body” to facilitate communication with prospective students.

An audience member asked Hylton-Pennant about her opinions on divestment, and whether this should be prioritised over securing PhD studentships using funding gained from companies involved with fossil fuels. Hylton-Pennant said she would look to gather student opinion on the issue, and admitted she was “not particularly well-versed” on its specifics.

Welfare and Rights Officer
The role of Welfare and Rights Officer is being contested by Micha Frazer-Carroll, who began by explaining that her own mental health crisis had prompted her interest in the area. She also cited her involvement in setting up Blueprint magazine and her position on Student Minds Cambridge as a qualification to the role. Her speech proposed a standardisation of welfare practices across colleges, improved access to resources and a heightened focus on the intersectional nature of the problems faced by students.

RON, represented by a journalist from The Cambridge Student, put pressure on Frazer-Carroll to define the terms “intersectionality” and “neurodiversity”.

An audience member highlighted the fact that the role also encompassed the Graduate Union, to which Frazer-Carroll replied that, as an undergraduate student, she had limited experience of the issues faced by graduate students, but would undertake “field work” to overcome this difficulty.

Womens’ Officer
Lola Olufemi was next to defend her claim to the role of Womens’ Officer. She said the Women’s Campaign was a space to “challenge institutionalised misogyny.’ Her speech also proposed significant changes to the nature of the campaign, including recognising the legitimacy of sex work.

RON challenged Olufemi’s proposal of a feminist reading group as targeting people who were already engaged with feminism, rather than other groups who were less informed. Olufemi countered this by stating that she envisioned the group to be an area where “clunky and impenetrable” discourses around feminism could be broken down for people who had little experience with feminism.

Disabled Students’ Officer
The candidate for Disabled Students’ Officer, Florence Oulds, was next to introduce herself and her policies, stressing her priority to “universalise” understanding of disabled students’ experiences. Oulds announced her commitment to “alleviating barriers” by engaging with students personally, but also creating broader structures to combat issues which often arise due to “simple naivety”.

When asked by the RON representative if her plans were beyond the scope of one term as Sabbatical Officer, Florence touched on plans to collect the experiences of students and compile handover documents for future DSOs.

A question from the audience asked her to specify what these resources would be for the broader student body, to which she responded with ideas of pigeon hole and email information. In response to a question from RON, Florence emphasised that strong relationships with student media outlets would further contribute to generating dialogue across the University.

Further questions from the floor probed how Oulds would combat issues of faculty and college standardisation if elected, to which she suggested looking at the experiences of individuals to determine fair courses of action, before presenting faculties with “precedents” of fair practice.

When the question of differences in dealing with students who have been diagnosed and those who have not, Oulds explained the importance of retaining strong links with the Disabled Student’s Office, in order to give students all possible information and support without devaluing their respective experiences.

When asked what sort of information prospective students should be given from colleges, Oulds said simply formatted, “basic” information about daily college life was most important.

Her final question pertained to working to develop relations between taxi companies and the university, to which she responded that it was “quite easy to create a resource” for taxi drivers to understand how to relate to disabled students travelling with them

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