CUSU Council debated the motion for nearly an hourLouis Ashworth

The CUSU Council’s second meeting of term, held on Monday, was dominated by a debate surrounding a controversial motion proposed by CUSU Welfare and Rights Officer and seconded by CUSU Access and Funding Officer, calling for a ban on “all societies and external organisations from bringing firearms of any sort to the CUSU Freshers’ Fair or other CUSU-run or supported events.”

Initially consisting of three clauses, the motion prohibiting firearms at CUSU events passed by 75% to 25% after an amendment proposed by a student from Fitzwilliam JCR struck two clauses from the original.

In previous years, firearms displayed at the Freshers’ Fair were required to “comply with CUSU policy”, the details of which could be provided upon request.

A large number of non-CUSU Council representatives attended the debate in order to argue against the motion, including representatives from the Cambridge University Officer Training Corps (CUOTC) and Cambridge University Rifle Association (CURA), both of whom delivered speeches against the motion. The proposers were criticised for not having contacted the societies that the motion might affect in advance. Some of those opposing the motion blamed CUSU itself, accusing it of “belligerence.”


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CUOTC branded the proposed ban as "unconstitutional and unfair". They said CUSU was contradicting the object of its union as stated in their constitution, such as its commitment to the equality of opportunity in education.

After debating the firearms motion for nearly an hour, an amendment was made which removed two clauses. The first called to prevent military organisations from attending CUSU events, including the Freshers’ Fair, and being advertised on CUSU’s social media channels. The other removed a clause which sought to prevent military organisations from attending CUSU Freshers’ Fair by using a society to front their attendance.

The amendment itself passed narrowly with 55% of the vote.

A member of CUOTC felt that the motion was "an attack on the interests and activities a group of students choose to take part in, of their own volition, with no requirement or indeed pressure to join the military".

The member believed that "it is unfortunate that the firearms clause remains in place" but that an amendment will be proposed at the next CUSU meeting.

The motion stated that the presence of firearms at the Freshers’ Fair “is unnecessary and actively works against CUSU’s charitable aims, mission statement, and values”, as well as being “alarming and off-putting for some students”. Supporters of the motion argued that its aim was not to ban student societies.

Other motions approved by the CUSU Council on Monday included the mandatory inclusion of “content notes” in all faculty-produced reading lists for every tripos, which passed with only one person voting against. The motion to adopt a “harm-reduction policy on drug taking” was passed unanimously.

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