Evie Aspinall says she is ready to change CUSU from the outsideMathias Gjesdal Hammer

Of the three CUSU presidential candidates in the running this year, Evie Aspinall may have the least in the way of previous involvement with the student union. However, she points to her experience as “president of numerous societies, and vice-president of Cambridge for Consent,” as well as women’s officer at Pembroke, as examples of leadership experience that has allowed her to “tackle the big issues” which she would now like to do “on a University-wide level.” Aspinall has also founded the Jo Cox Feminist Society, a “very inclusive feminist society, where men and women, as well as people who don’t know a lot about feminism, are encouraged to come.”


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When asked if her experiences suggested themselves more to a run at CUSU women’s officer, Aspinall responds that that she was less interested in what is “very much an activist role,” and thinks that being president “is much more about engaging with students and being friendly and approachable, as well as tackling the big issues.”

In fact, Aspinall believes that her comparatively newer experience of CUSU – having only begun attending CUSU Council this term – is an advantage. She adds that “at the moment it’s a very exclusive group of people involved in CUSU, and a lot of people feel very disenfranchised.” This is somewhat reminiscent of Carine Valarché’s self-styling as not a “CUSU fuckboy”, which saw her successfully become one of Cambridge’s NUS delegate. Aspinall goes on to claim that as “a person who understands CUSU but isn’t on the inside,” she is better-equipped “to change it from the outside,” arguing that “not being in the CUSU bubble” means she understands “the position [towards CUSU] of most students at Cambridge, which is one of disillusionment.”

Her main criticism of current CUSU leadership is its lack of visibility, as she states that “you’ve almost seen them more campaigning than you have since the election.” If elected, Aspinall would directly address student engagement with CUSU, arguing that “you need to bring CUSU directly towards students.” While she admits that college JCRs may pull some focus away from the centralised student union, she would aim to address this by holding CUSU drop-ins at every college, every term, and using vlogs, rather than emails, to increase engagement.


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With CUSU’s strained financial situation being a key issue the next president will need to address, Aspinall acknowledges that CUSU “should not be running a deficit,” but argues that the situation “should not be over-dramatised.” She adds that there is “a point to be made about how much say the President has over finances,” with most control supposedly lying with the Board of Directors. She claims she “won’t be making any big promises,” but sees areas in need of reform, and would seek to increase revenue schemes rather than cut funding for autonomous campaigns and student support – one of her ideas for which being a CUSU Lounge cafe.

Other hot-button issues in Cambridge at the moment include sexual harassment, and Aspinall wishes to introduce “an accreditation scheme for supervisors and tutors, to encourage them to take up optional training in areas including mental health support and sexual harassment”. These areas would also include the current industrial strike action, and student rents, as well as decolonising the curriculum and divestment. Aspinall states that “most students are very supporting of the right and the need for workers to strike,” but worries that the distress of some students who feel they are missing work is an “afterthought for CUSU,” and should have been more central to their planning process. She thinks there is a “very clear need to decolonise,” and would also like to carry on CUSU’s pro-divestment stance “if I felt this is what students wanted.” Addressing Cut the Rents, she says “there’s only so much CUSU can do,” but would centralise resources, create templates, and meet with different JCRs to support their campaigns.

Quickfire questions:

Van of Death, Van of Life, or Gardies?
Van of Life

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Feisty, determined, approachable

Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Dog person

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Someone who’s current so I could have an impact, and someone I disagreed with so we could discuss things… someone like Jacob Rees-Mogg? I’d like to put him in his place

If you could change anything about Cambridge, no matter how big or small, what would it be?
I’d make the workload less intense; it’s such a pressurised environment and everyone is so high-energy all the time. I’d like to see people a little more relaxed.

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