Sabbatical officers celebrating the referendum result this eveningPhoebe Collins

Cambridge’s tradition of having two students’ unions is set to end, after a successful referendum to dissolve Cambridge University Students’ Union and the Graduate Union, to be replaced by a new single students’ union.

2,272 CUSU voters elected to dissolve the separate students’ unions, with 737 voting against the changes, and 210 ballots left blank. Meanwhile, 714 GU members voted for the changes, as opposed to to 356 who voted in the opposite direction and 64 blank votes.

Officers in both unions have campaigned heavily for the changes after launching their ‘New-SU’ proposals in October, which included the creation of a full-time BME Officer sabbatical position, and two new Access, Education and Participation Officers. Currently, CUSU has separate Access and Education Officers. They also claim that the single students’ union would improve postgraduate representation.

Historically, both undergraduates and graduates have been members of CUSU, while the GU is open only to graduate students. The role of Welfare and Rights Officer is split across both unions.


Mountain View

A full-time BME sabbatical officer would bring anti-racist work to the forefront of the students’ union

The proposals needed to be voted for by both CUSU and GU members in order to pass. As the referendum ran concurrently with elections, the turnout of 13.5% of students voting just passed the required threshold of 10%. Voter turnout in the annual CUSU Sabbatical Officers’ elections is normally higher, at 22.2% last year, with candidates traditionally drawing on strong support from their college.

1,134 members of the GU voted in the referendum, fulfilling a threshold of 200 voters.

CUSU President Edward Parker-Humphreys, and GU President Alessandro Ceccarelli said they were “incredibly pleased that both CUSU and GU members have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a new, single students’ union in the form of Cambridge SU.”

“We want to say a huge thank you to everybody who voted in the referendum and are looking forward to the future of Cambridge SU.”

Campaigning tactics on the part of union officers included posters across Cambridge and social media, as well as a Love Actually parody featuring sabbatical officers.

Suggestions for a CUSU-GU merger were floated last year, with an announcement in Easter term that the sabbatical teams would develop concrete plans leading up to a student referendum.