Frazer-Carroll wants to expand on creative welfare eventsLouis Ashworth

Micha Frazer-Carroll, a PBS finalist at Corpus Christi, is already a prominent voice in discussions about welfare in Cambridge. Editor-in-Chief of Blueprint, a student magazine focused on mental health issues, and a frequent contributor to The Cambridge Student, journalism is at the heart of her campaigning ethos. Last year she was part of Corpus JCR, where she acted in a welfare positions as well as representing ethnic minorities and the disabled.

An emphasis on intersectionality is a key part of Frazer-Carroll’s welfare approach. She identifies as BME, LGBT+ and disabled, and stresses the importance of providing a  “safe environment” for groups which face overlapping disadvantages.

“Many very talented musicians come to Cambridge, but don’t get a chance to do much with it”

Key to her manifesto pledges is a large-scale report on attitudes towards welfare and mental health in Cambridge, with the intention of presenting the Senior Tutors’ committee and its sub-committees with the hard evidence needed to back campaigns.

Part of this approach involves finding new ways to communicate with students, going beyond the current reports which sabbatical officers provide to council. “Not everybody’s going to read the minutes of CUSU Council,” Frazer-Carroll says, “but they do follow student press and even engage through platforms like Memebridge!” She pointed to current Education Officer Roberta Huldisch’s use of memes to promote the CUSU NSS boycott.

This element of levity runs through her approach. Talking to me in Corpus’s bar, The Pelican, she spoke in praise of the methods employed by the current CUSU/GU Welfare Officer, Sophie Buck. Frazer-Carroll praised Buck’s “super accessible” welfare events, which have often been centred around artwork, and suggested a new area of expansion: music.

“Many very talented musicians come to Cambridge,” said Frazer-Carroll, “but don’t get a chance to do much with it”. She said this could be turned into a welfare activity “if there was a space where people could just get together and casually create music.”

This forms part of a focus on “wellbeing, happiness, and fun”, which she says works in tandem with the more “sombre” elements of welfare support.

“I think it’s very important to strike a balance between the two,” Frazer-Carroll told me.

Another focus if she beats RON will be pushing to standardise disciplinary approaches across colleges – a problem highlighted by a recent report about Corpus’s guest policy.

“The disciplinary scandal that came up in Corpus...a lot of things like that slip through the cracks,” she said. “A lot of colleges are quite adamant that they do things best.”

“Just saying ‘Let’s meet at the plodge and we’ll walk over together’ makes such a difference”

She hopes senior tutors will see her as “Someone who is trying to improve their college, as opposed to someone who wants to push them into things which are difficult for them”

To promote this, she proposes producing guidance on best practice, and encouraging more communication between college regarding punitive measures against students. Frazer-Carroll says this focus on communication should also extend into faculties, to avoid supervisors not speaking, and students being landed with huge workloads as a result. She pointed at her own experience, of having had to write 16 essays in her first term of HSPS, which she studied before swapping courses.

As well as relieving students of overly large workloads, she also wants to tackle the way students approach their studies, particularly to avoid the common features of a Cambridge work ethic.

“I want to do more discussions and workshops on things like perfectionism, failure, and organising your time,” said Frazer-Carroll.

The role spans CUSU and the GU (Graduate Union), and Frazer-Carroll was frank about her lack of experience with the latter group. Acknowledging that Master’s and PhD students can be a “difficult group to pin down”, she promised to “put out some surveys and potentially do focus groups” to best identify and address their concerns.

She firmly believes in the value of support groups and networks, saying that discovering FLY – the network for women and non-binary people of colour – had helped give her a sense of belonging when she first arrived at Cambridge. She described such groups as creating a place “to go back to and say ‘I’ve experienced been through all these microaggressions this week, and you understand it, because you’ve been through it too’”.

Organising groups of Corpuscles to attend such meetings was a big part of Frazer-Carroll’s approach whilst on the JCR.

“Just saying ‘Let’s meet at the plodge and we’ll walk over together’ makes such a difference in attendance to those kind of things”

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