Toope has served as vice–chancellor since 2017MATTHIAS GJESDAL HAMMER

Vice-chancellor Stephen Toope has agreed to attend a second open meeting on Tuesday 15th May at Mill Lane lecture theatres. This announcement follows the first open meeting, which took place in March with the aim of ending students’ occupation of Old Schools.

While the primary focus of the first meeting was the issue of staff pensions which had led to industrial action over lent term, it also touched on divestment from fossil fuels, proposed changes to the University’s sexual assault procedure, Prevent, housing, and the ethics of the University’s investments.

While Toope’s ambiguity may have had a stalling effect in March, students will likely be expecting more direct answers from the vice-chancellor next week, particularly over issues of divestment and reforms to the disciplinary procedure for cases of sexual misconduct. Last week’s Senate House discussion, as well as the recently-issued set of reforms by the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals make this another issue likely to draw attention.

The University Council is also expected to reach a decision on Thursday 21st May on whether to divest its endowment from indirect holdings of fossil fuel companies.

Although the structure for this meeting is yet to be announced, Cambridge Zero Carbon Society has released a list of the questions they will ask Toope which focus on the issue of divestment, including: “Will the vice-chancellor recognise the University has a responsibility to invest all its money ethically and democratically?”


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Zero Carbon has called on the vice-chancellor to “commit to publish all correspondence between fossil fuel executives and University authorities”, arguing that a recent remark by Bob Dudley, the Chief Executive Officer of BP, which urged the University against divestment “might just be the tip of an iceberg of behind-the-scenes lobbying”.

They also want to see released information on donations or grants that have been made to the University by these companies in the past five years.

At the first open meeting, Toope stated that he did not wish to “pre-judge what the governance will actually come up with” on the divestment issue.

The question of staff strikes is also yet to be resolved, as national parties have yet to reach a decision on reforms to the national pension scheme for higher education, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

An agreement reached between University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK last month to establish a Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) to evaluate pensions proposals was approved by an almost two-thirds majority of UCU members across the country, ending the strike action. However, whether to implement certain reforms to the current pensions scheme is still under consideration by the JNC.

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