All elections except for Ethical Affairs will be contested this yearComposite: Rosie Bradbury

This year’s CUSU and Graduate Union (GU) elections look set to take centre stage in Cambridge with all sabbatical roles being contested. Last year, only three roles besides that of CUSU President were contested. The year before, there were no roles, besides the President, which were contested by multiple candidates.

What are sabbatical roles?

Besides the CUSU President, there are five supporting sabbatical roles for which students can be nominated each year. Successful candidates will be paid a salary during the year, but must take a year out either during or after their degree in order to fulfil the role.

The 5 sabbatical roles are Education, Women’s, Disabled Students’, Access and Funding and Welfare and Rights Officers, although Welfare and Rights is shared between both CUSU and the GU. The GU Presidency is of course also being contested in this election, as are the two Ethical Affairs Officer positions and the University Council Rep position.

Who will be running?

All roles looks set for a tight fight this year.

The role of Graduate Union president is the most competitive  this year, with three candidates running for the position: Alessandro Ceccarelli, Devarchan Banerjee and Jack Chadwick. Banerjee may appear as a relative newcomer, as both Chadwick and Cecarelli have experience on the GU, as Disabilities Officer and LGBTQ+ officer respectively.

The election for CUSU Education Officer is one to watch, as both candidates bring a wealth of experience from their time in Cambridge. Ali Hyde has been both Vice President of Downing College JCR and President of the CUSU LGBT+ Campaign this year, as well as having been Co-Chair of CULC and successfully running to be one of the six delegates at the NUS conference. His opponent, Howard Chae from Magdalene, has been a part of the CUSU BME Campaign for two years, as well as being Education Team Campaigns Officer on CUSU’s part-time executive committee for a year and serving as the History Faculty representative.

Another interesting election will be that of the role of Disabled Students’ Officer: for the first time since the creation of the role in 2016, the role of Disabled Students’ Officer is contested. Competing for the role are Jess O’Brien and Beth Walters.  O’Brien has been Trinity Hall’s Disabled Students’ Officer, as well as both Access, and Socials Officer for the CUSU Disabled Students’ Campaign. Her manifesto seeks to create more equal ground between colleges by creating league tables of the levels of support available, and also encourage college JCRs to sign up to an 'accessibility pledge'. Walter also has experience on her college JCR, as Disabilities Officer for Queens’ College JCR and cites her personal experience her experience “with the many connections between intermission and disability and hope to examine this further.”  Her manifesto has three strands: identity, intersectionality and inclusivity.

Kate Litman and Finley Kidd are competing for the position of Women’s Officer, with Kate Litman having served as Secretary for the CUSU Women’s Campaign this year and Kidd having been Women’s Officer at Newnham and the Disabled Student’s Rep on Women’s Campaign Committee. Both candidates have placed emphasis in their manifestos for the need to resist Prevent.

The candidates running for Access and Funding Officer are Ashley Woodvine and Lily-Rose Sharry. Both have experience as college Access Officers – Sharry is also the Care Leaver and Estranged Officer on the Class Act Campaign, whilst Woodvine has been involved with InsideUni, a website that seeks to make the Cambridge application process more accessible.

Meanwhile, Stella Swain and Cici Carey-Stuart are running for the role of Welfare and Rights Officer. Swain is the Open Portfolio Officer for the Women’s Campaign, meaning that this year she has been working on an open campaign, specifically building solidarity in Cambridge organisation. Carey-Stuart has this year been both Equalities Officer for Corpus Christi JCR and the CUSU LGBT+ Trans and Non-Binary Rep. His manifesto states his desire to make free sanitary products available on a university level and better training for liberation officers in both JCRs and MCRs and CUSU Liberation Campaigns. Swain meanwhile has aims to address homelessness in Cambridge as well as improving services for survivors of sexual violence and ensuring staff are trained in line with anti-discrimination policies.


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Mountain View

The student’s guide to the CUSU and GU elections

The contest for University Councillor will seek to elect an independent student representative to University Council, Cambridge’s executive decision-making body, consisting of 25 members. This year the candidates for the role are Poppy Cockburn and Tamzin Byrne.

The two candidates have different platforms: Cockburn is a first-year student at Robinson College, and Byrne is a postgraduate at Murray Edwards. Byrne has been MCR President and charity trustee at Medwards this year. Both state in their manifestos their commitment to divestment and to achieving more affordable, equal rent. Byrne also wants to interrogate the
University's five-year Education Strategy: she claims rising targets for student enrollments will threatens the quality of teaching and learning.  Cockburn has advocated for changes in disciplinary procedures concerning sexual assault.

The part-time roles of Ethical Affairs Officers are the only positions to be uncontested this year, with current Ethical Affairs Officers Jake Simms and Alice Gilderdale both seeking re-election to their roles (the position is jointly held by two students). This marks an improvement from last year, when no nominations for the roles were received, requiring a by-election last Easter term.

This article was updated to include more information on the candidates running for Disabled Students' Officer after the official publication of their manifestos.

Correction Thursday 28th February 16.52: this article was corrected to amend a statement that claimed that Tamzin Byrne wanted to set up an Education Strategy.

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