Key stories from this week

Noah Carl dismissed

Students had long been protesting Carl's appointment before his official dismissalHassan raja

After months of pressure from academics and students, St Edmund’s College terminated the research fellowship of Dr. Noah Carl following a panel investigation into his research. The panel cited “poor scholarship” as the main reason for this decision, fearing that his work could bring the college into “disrepute”. The panel further expressed concerns that “Dr Carl had collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views”, but the college has been criticised for failing to take responsibility for his initial recruitment. This follows an open letter signed by over 1,400 academics and students in December, and a peaceful protest in January. The master of Eddie’s apologised to students for the “hurt and offence” caused by his appointment.

Slave trade links to be investigated

A two-year inquiry was launched on TuesdayLouis ashworth

The University announced on Tuesday that it will be embarking on a two-year investigation to evaluate its ties to the Atlantic slave trade, with findings to be delivered in 2021. The advisory group will be chaired by Professor Martin Millet, and will focus on material and financial gains, as well as how scholarship at the University helped to shape and validate racist thought. A spokesperson for the CUSU BME Campaign welcomed the development, but cautioned that it must be accompanied by concrete action: “This is not a chance for the university to accept its involvement in the slavery, apologise and then draw a line under the issue.” The inquiry has also come under fire for failing to include the University's constituent colleges, and an open letter has been launched calling on colleges to take similar action.

Extinction Rebellion blockade the Union

The EPA head was unable to leave the Unionhassan raja

The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Andrew Wheeler’s visit to the Cambridge union on Wednesday was certainly not protested by Extinction Rebellion Cambridge. Five members stood up at the end of his speech with fake blood on their hands, in protest at his role in the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental regulations. Other protestors stood outside, banging drums and blockading the exits of the Union. Inside the Union, the former coal-lobbyist was met with rigorous challenge on his views, with one audience member accusing him of “ecocide”. Wheeler ignored these disruptions and a representative of the EPA told Varsity that he “had a fantastic time interacting with the students”. See the story in pictures here.

Labour hold majority at local elections

The Liberal Democrats took around 50% of the vote in all three of the city's student wardslouis ashworth

On Thursday, 16 of the 42 seats in the Cambridge City Council went up for election, with Labour emerging with its majority intact. However, Thursday saw a significant increase in support for the Liberal Democrats at the polls while Labour suffered a 10% drop in its vote share. The biggest change of the night was arguably the Green Party, which almost doubled its vote share from 9% to 15%, while the Conservatives failed to gain ground. Prior to the election, campaigning focused on homelessness, traffic congestion, climate change and Brexit, with UKIP candidate Peter Burckinshaw courting controversy for his comments on homelessness. This year’s election leaves the Council comprised of 26 Labour seats, 15 Liberal Democrat seats, and 1 Independent seat.

On a lighter note...

Fitz JCR vote out the scholars ballot

Nearly two-thirds of voters supported scrapping the academic ballotVivienne Hopley-Jones

Fitzwilliam College JCR voted on Monday to scrap the scholars ballot, meaning that students who are awarded first class honours might no longer be given first pick of their rooms for the following year. Nearly two-thirds of respondents voted in support of the proposal, with a 59% voter turnout. Ellie Brain, the JCR President, told Varsity that she is “delighted” with the results of the vote, although she added that “I feel for the students who strongly wanted to keep the ballot”. Despite the mandate from the student body, the final decision lies with the college, who will decide this month whether to make changes to the process.

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