Parker Humphreys has been Jesus JCR president and co-chair of CULC during his time at CambridgeRosie Bradbury

As I quizzed Edward Parker Humphreys on what his biggest regret has been during his time at Cambridge, he paused: “I know everything about my manifesto, just don’t know anything about myself”.

Parker Humphreys, a third-year politics student at Jesus and former JCR president of the college, is one of two students running to take the crown of undergraduate student politics: the position of CUSU president. Likely to see a substantial backing from the student left, he is an experienced campaigner: during his tenure as CULC co-chair in 2017, Parker Humphreys helped to launch the Cambridge Living Wage Campaign, which successfully pressured the University to decide to seek formal accreditation as a Living Wage employer in February last year. As CUSU President, Parker Humphreys hopes to extend the practice across colleges, which vary widely on the minimum compensation they pay out to workers.

The CUSU presidential hopeful has outlined an extensive list of goals, grounded in greater discussion and collaboration between CUSU, and the JCRs and MCRs across the collegiate University, which Parker Humphreys argues is key to “how you crack these big college inequalities.”

“On the college level [...] that’s where you’re going to get the most change happening”, he stresses.

Among his other policy areas are access post-admission through provisions of greater financial support, addressing loneliness and student workload, engaging with students, and campaigning on causes such as divestment and on fighting back against the Prevent duty.

In targeting lapses in financial support structures, Parker Humphreys points to May Balls, halfway hall, and graduation: “whether we think it’s a good thing or not, [these events] are kind of ingrained in the social fabric of Cambridge life”. He lists as one of his proudest achievements as JCR president having lobbied the college to “basically halve the price” of Jesus halfway hall – one of the most expensive halfway halls in Cambridge – for students that year in receipt of bursaries.

Parker Humphreys also mentions working on implementing a centralised system of postgraduate financial support, as well as addressing subject-specific funding for students requiring add-on expenses for materials, such as in architecture. He hopes to improve delays in colleges sending hardship funding and students receiving bursaries part-way through term, as well as certain colleges asking bursary recipients to write thank you letters: “something that supposedly doesn’t happen, but in practice it does, and again it varies hugely by college”.

Another one of Parker Humphreys’ goals, to work to address student loneliness, provides a glimpse of how the recently established Facebook page, Camfess, is helping to shape political discussion in Cambridge in real time. “It’s something that’s very hard to spot because by nature, if someone is having a problem of loneliness it’s because they’re not out and about, you don’t see them”, he says, discussing that he would focus on a collaborative ‘loneliness strategy’ for CUSU sabbatical officers to look into pastoral support by college and greater social interaction within arts faculties.

And among perhaps one of Parker Humphreys’ most ambitious plans is to push for students to not have contact hours on Wednesday afternoons, where students could have that “time set aside to just relax”, and where welfare officers would be able to schedule events at conducive times for students with hectic lecture timetables.

“I think it is so easy, and it is slightly sad, that actually this is an educational institute at the end of the day, and it feels a lot of the time to students that our problems don’t matter a huge amount”, says Parker Humphreys, in speaking on how he hopes to bring a student-centred focus to the myriad of committees on which the CUSU president sits.

And a current CUSU part-time executive on its Union Development Team, Parker Humphreys has experience with CUSU, although significantly less than his opponent, Shadab Ahmed, its current Access & Funding Officer. “The number one criticism I hear from students about CUSU is, well, ‘what does it do?’”, says Parker Humphreys, adding that above engaging with students, “you also have to take that action, and actually get things done”.


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When asked how he would align himself with last year’s candidates for CUSU president, he expresses sympathy with both Evie Aspinall’s focus of engaging with students and especially JCRs and MCRs, and Siyang Wei’s highlighting of “big issues” around access and welfare.

Parker Humphreys has also said that as president, he would push forcefully back against policies such as the 2015 counterterrorist Prevent duty. He adds that as JCR president, he flagged issues of overreach on the college’s Prevent committee which he viewed would “disproportionately impact especially BME and Muslim students”. In Cambridge, he argues, “the gap between rhetoric and practice is worrying”.

“You’ve got centuries of tradition and bureaucracy, and because the University is so set in its ways, they find it very easy to say, ‘well, leave it as it is because that’s how it’s been forever’, regardless of the impact it has on students”, Parker Humphreys says, describing how he would look to emphasise issues such as welfare when representing the student body.

“Students can expect I will be very vocal”, he added.

Quickfire questions

Describe yourself in three words.

“Determined, friendly, hardworking”

What would you want your last meal to be?

“Think this one’s changed because I kind of switched, I used to eat meat and now I’m kind of trying to be pescetarian, so I’d say now, a veggie burger and fries”

What’s your biggest regret in Cambridge?

“Probably stressing too much in first term, I think everyone does it… I did an all-nighter once for an essay, and ever since then, I’ve kind of been like, ‘that was pointless’”

Coffee or Tea

“Neither, I don’t drink either – hot chocolate”

What’s your favourite place in Cambridge?

“There’s a nature trail that kind of goes ’round Jesus, and I remember being very stressed in exam term last year and went on a walk round there with my friend Holly”

Gardies, Van of Life, or Van of Death

“Van of Life”

What’s your guilty pleasure?

“Netflix, just in general, when I should be doing degree work”

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