Protestors gather outside Trinity Stephanie Stacey

Academics gathered in protest outside Trinity today, at the welcoming ceremony of the new master Dame Sally Davies.

The college’s withdrawal from the USS pension scheme last term has caused over 550 Cambridge academics to boycott Trinity in a bid to force the institution to rejoin. Protesters took advantage of the grand event to remind the master of the difficulty she faces in getting teaching staff.

Accompanied by a jazz band serenading the master was a large group of protestors holding a banner reading ‘strike to win’ and ironically waving ‘congratulations’ flags.

One member of the group held a large cheque for £30,000,000 which is the amount the college has spent on withdrawing from the USS, despite claiming that the decision is financially beneficial for the college.

As the master made her entrance to greet the Trinity staff and students, the demonstrators chanted, “They say Trexit, we say boycott” and a purple flare was let off by a student protestor. This was ignored.

Davies’ new position will come with many challenges, not least confronting a divided college. Initially, the College Council split 8-5 in favour of withdrawal. This decision was challenged by 29 fellows who called for a Special College Meeting in June at which a motion to reverse the withdrawal was defeated in a 46-73 vote. At least three fellows have already left the college over the issue.

Alice Reid, a former Geography DoS and attendee of the protest, has also terminated her teaching, telling Varsity, “I’m not sure if she knows what she’s let herself in for with this. It will be interesting to see what she does and how she thinks about it.”

Reid suggested that the college’s hierarchy and sense of tradition affected the decision: “I think there were probably lobby groups in the very powerful parts of the fellowship who made it very difficult for people to be rebels. Trinity has a lot of mathematicians, scientists and economists who tend to have a much more conservative view.”

It’s evident that Departments have varying approaches to the issue. A member of the Anthropology Department told Varsity that “social sciences and humanities are more likely to support the strike, but that’s not a hard and fast rule and there are many people in the sciences who support it as well.”

Demonstrators held banners, chanted and let off flares Stephanie Stacey

Students at Trinity are also noticing changes. One student said that they feel “massively affected” and that it has been difficult to find teachers, especially in less traditional papers such as postcolonial studies.

Ted Traeger, an undergraduate and graduate student at Trinity lamented the “blow” his community has faced. “I’ve always been very grateful to the college for what it’s done,″ he said. “When the news came through that they were pulling out of the pension fund it felt, to me, like a complete abdication of the collective environment that higher education depends on.”

Current students throughout the University have lobbied against Trinity’s decision, despite Trinity’s announcement at a June meeting that, having entered into a legal agreement over its exit from the scheme, it cannot now reverse its decision . An undergraduate protestor from Cambridge Defend Education identified that “’it threatens our wellbeing if the welfare of our academics is being threatened. We have to show our solidarity. Everyone is involved.”

“By pulling out of the pension scheme they are endangering all the other colleges and universities who are involved in the pension scheme - there is a trickle down effect,” she said. “It threatens the ideal of a collective educational value: we all have a right to a good life, good wages and good education.”

Further complicating the issue for Trinity is the fact that the Graduate Union has unanimously supported those academics boycotting the college, which makes it unlikely that graduates will replace teaching vacancies. The University and College Union is also preparing a national boycott which covers all academic interaction with Trinity.

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