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The first CUSU Council meeting of term saw student representatives unanimously vote to support the new Accessibility Pledge created by the Disabled Students’ Campaign (DSC).

This meeting was the first to take place according to the new devolved structure of CUSU Council, with college- and faculty-level issues set to be discussed next Tuesday at the ‘College Forum’ and ‘Academic Forum’.

Introducing the motion, one of its proposers noted that 13% of Cambridge students are registered with the University as having a disability. They added that this figure likely does not fully represent the proportion of students who will be impacted by the motion.

The Pledge aims to ensure a more unified approach to providing accessibility information and places the onus on event organisers across the University, such as J/MCRs, societies, and discussion groups, to provide clear and easily available information about accessibility. This will reduce the burden on disabled students to find out this information for themselves.

The Pledge is further designed to give these groups guidance on how to implement its requirements. CUSU’s current Disabled Students’ Officer Emrys Travis also noted that their successor is set to organise training related to this next year.

By passing the motion, CUSU has officially endorsed the Accessibility Pledge, and will be actively encouraging JCRs, MCRs, clubs and societies to commit to the Pledge, as well as ensuring that all central CUSU events adhere to it.

Pembroke College JPC, Student Community Action, and Cambridge University Students on Social Policy (CUSSP) have already committed to the Pledge.

Disabled access across the city has received an increasing level of attention this academic year. In November 2018, a report produced by the DSC showed that many Colleges hold insufficient information concerning wheelchair and step-free accessibility, where only three of the University’s 31 colleges were at the time able to provide an up-to-date ‘access audit’.

More recently, Cambridge nightclub Vinyl came under scrutiny for inadequately providing for powerchair users, for which it was accused of breaching its legal accessibility requirements.

The Council also unanimously voted a second time to implement proposed changes to the DSC’s constitution. CUSU requires that constitutional changes be voted through twice by the Council, and so the proposed changes were ratified by last night’s Council support.


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The Sabbatical Officers were asked by a student representative about accessibility issues relating to the CUSU elections, particularly regarding mental health issues.

CUSU President Evie Aspinall stated that CUSU is planning to put forward a motion concerning diversity and making elections accessible to everyone, particularly students with disabilities.

Aspinall admitted that this won’t be “the clearest thing to magically fix”, but that CUSU is currently in talks with other students’ unions, and that CUSU’s Elections Committee will be reviewing its rules again in Michaelmas.

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