A similar rally was held outside Trinity last weekRosie Bradbury

Over 25 protestors, several wearing gowns, gathered outside Trinity’s Great Gate for two hours this afternoon to protest the College’s decision to withdraw from the national pensions scheme.

Today’s demonstration comes in the wake of mounting pressure on the College, after Varsity revealed last month that the College Council had voted to exit the national pensions scheme, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), a decision with the potential to destabilise the entire pensions scheme, impacting staff nationwide.

A senior USS official has told employers that the pensions scheme will be placed on “negative watch” following Trinity’s withdrawal. If, following Trinity’s exit, a second sizable employer were to exit the scheme, official advisors have said that the scheme’s overall rating of financial stability would be downgraded from ‘strong’ to ‘tending to strong’.

The protesters, who were present between 12pm and 2pm, carried a giant cheque made out for £30m, representing the sum which Trinity will be expected to pay in order to leave the pensions scheme.  

Today’s protest was supported by the Cambridge University and College Union (CUCU), who last month unanimously passed a motion calling for a national censure and boycott of the College until it reverses its decision.

They held banners bearing slogans such as: “Dissolve This College”, “Boycott” and “Save USS”, and chanted “they say Trinity, we say boycott” and “Trexit, boycott”.

Over 300 University staff members have now signed an open letter pledging to “refuse to supervise Trinity students” and decline all other work supporting Trinity, if the college laves the scheme.

One academic present this afternoon remarked that the protest “shows the strength of feeling among Cambridge staff about Trinity’s decision”. From now on, members of staff will be demonstrating outside Trinity weekly, and “are expecting a boycott of supervisions to be enforced indefinitely”.

Another protestor noted during today’s rally that Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) is currently seeking to explore ways in which students may be able to boycott the college alongside academics.

CDE has been contacted for comment.

Meanwhile, Trinity students have signed their own open letter, which, at the time of writing, had 66 signatures, stating that they “condemn” Trinity’s decision and are seeking to “press the college to consider its obligations not just to their students [...] but to their colleagues and the wider community of academia”.

Last week, the general secretary-elect of UCU, Jo Grady, published a letter asking Trinity fellows to call on the College Council to reverse its decision.

“Overturn your Council, or let it threaten the sustainability of the largest private pension scheme in the country: a scheme that provides a good, guaranteed retirement income for you and hundreds of thousands of your colleagues,'' she wrote.

A large number of Trinity Fellows - more than double the minimum required - have signed a request for a Special College Meeting to be held, with the aim of reversing the Council’s decision to withdraw from the USS.

Jenny Marchant, Vice-President of the Cambridge UCU Branch (CUCU), stated that CUCU “believe there may still be a possibility that Trinity Fellows can use the College’s governance procedures to force Council to reverse” its decision.

Referring to the building condemnation of the Council’s decision, Marchant told Varsity: “this withdrawal is already looking like it will have serious consequences for teaching in some subjects. It is not a decision that any staff take lightly”.

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