The proposal to affiliate was rejected by 78 votes to 37Diliff/Wikimedia Commons

In a referendum held on Wednesday, members of Corpus Christi’s undergraduate body voted to remain disaffiliated from the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU). This was the first annual referendum related to CUSU affiliation since the students’ union introduced a new funding model that scrapped JCR affiliation fees.

On the question ‘Should Corpus JCR [Junior Combination Room] affiliate to CUSU?’, 67.24% (78 students) voted against, while 31.9% (37 students) voted in favour. One vote was left blank.

The margin voting in favour of disaffiliation was lower than in the last referendum held on the issue in November 2017, in which 82.96%, 112 students, voted against the same proposal.

Regardless of their JCR's stance on the issue, all individual students are CUSU members. This means that they can vote in sabbatical and Council elections, as well as access CUSU welfare services such as the Student Union’s Advice Service (SUAS).

Corpus Christi disaffiliated from CUSU in 2010 amidst concerns that the financial relationship between the two institutions had become untenable. At the time, the cost to JCRs of CUSU affiliation amounted to £6.67 per undergraduate student. For graduate students, the cost was £3.30 per capita.

However, since October 2018, this affiliation fee has been extinguished. Instead, both CUSU and the GU have moved onto a new funding model in which college administrations pay an annual levy according to the size of their student body. Under the present arrangement, college administrations directly help fund CUSU services, such as SUAS. Because this means that JCR funding is not required, the representative bodies no longer benefit financially from disaffiliation. CUSU president Evie Aspinall told Varsity, “hopefully, as these changes are consolidated, JCRs and MCRs will increasingly see more reason to re-affiliate.”

As mandated in the college constitution, Corpus Christi holds a debate every year to accompany the annual referendum.

Making the case for affiliation this time, Aspinall argued that it would give the Corpus JCR greater representation on University-wide issues. She further stated that “affiliation doesn’t mean you agree with everything CUSU does.”

Responding to the result of the referendum, Aspinall told Varsity that “all Corpus Christi students are still members of CUSU as individuals and still therefore receive a significant amount of CUSU support. CUSU has done lots of work this year to provide better support for JCRs and MCRs with a new J/MCR Presidents and Vice-Presidents committee, CUSU Connects forums, and workshops on issues such as Prevent and Rent.”

During the debate, student Jorik Schellekens argued that the new funding model could threaten the JCR budget if the college administration chose to pass these costs back onto the undergraduate body. As such, a vote to disaffiliate was “a protest against this encroachment.” However, Nina Jeffs, Corpus JCR president, told Varsity that no cuts have been made thus far to the JCR budget as a result of the new funding arrangements.

Will Phelps, another Corpuscle who argued against affiliation, said that the JCR’s current welfare services are already done “devolved and locally” without CUSU support.


Mountain View

Corpus Christi to remain disaffiliated from CUSU

Cici Carey Stuart, former Gender Equalities Officer for Corpus, argued in favour of disaffiliation at the last referendum. This year, however, Stuart supported Aspinall and explained that the removal of affiliation fees crushed the case for continued disaffiliation. “Because we don’t have the money issue this year, all the arguments for disaffiliation have gone.”

Corpus Christi and Gonville & Caius are the only colleges whose JCRs are not affiliated with CUSU.