Cambridge SU have released their campaign demanding greater transparency and protection for staff and studentsLouis ashworth

Cambridge SU have today (04/09) launched the #DemandSafeCambridge campaign which calls for the Collegiate University to develop more rigorous health and safety measures in consultation with students and staff, and in accordance with Public Health England (PHE) guidelines.

According to the SU, the demands were formulated after weeks of consultations with student groups and societies, as well as with trade unions. The SU told Varsity, the demands “reflect a collective desire to return to a campus where all students and staff can study, work, and live safely”.

In their launch statement, the SU claimed they were “seriously concerned by the lack of clear and consistent communication from the Colleges to their students and staff”. They argued that “the University has shown an unwillingness to make demands on Colleges at a time where consistency and unity is of utmost importance”.

Currently, the University’s guidelines on returning students is through its #StaySafeCambridgeUni campaign. This focuses on minimising the health risks of COVID-19 and its disruption to University life through an emphasis on personal hygiene practices and individual lifestyle changes such as handwashing, testing, social distancing, mask wearing, and remote working.

However, the SU argues that its “limited scope shows the University has been unwilling to draw colleges into their messaging - forcing staff and students to decipher confusing and sometimes conflicting messages from the University, Colleges, and Departments”. The #StaySafeCambridgeUni campaign has previously been criticised for lacking clarity across the University.

The campaign launch comes in the wake of numerous academics, public health experts, university vice-chancellors, and both the NUS and UCU warning that universities are currently not equipped to safely manage students’ return to campuses.

In the past week, Oxford has been placed on ‘amber alert’ following a surge of COVID-19 cases in the 18-29 age group, and the University of St Andrew’s postponed the resumption of in-person teaching less than two weeks before the start of term.

The #DemandSafeCambridge demands are divided into three sections: living safely, studying safely, and working safely.

The demands include calls for fair and adequate pay for staff, support for vulnerable and disabled students, provision of safe social spaces and guaranteed accommodation for all students out of term time and in the event of a future lockdown.

In a statement, the SU detailed that “the message throughout is calling on the colleges to work together at a time where consistency and unity is of utmost importance, and for the Collegiate University to provide basic assurances for all returning to study or work”.


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Along with the statement, the SU haslaunched an open letter for students, societies and J/MCRs to sign in support of the #DemandSafeCambridge.

The SU told Varsity that “in order for students and staff to feel safe returning to Cambridge they must be provided with these essential guarantees, across all colleges. We urge the colleges to collaborate on a consistent approach during this difficult time. This will not only ease the burden on student and staff representatives, but allow the university to operate in both a manner that is cohesive and that puts the welfare and safety of our community first.”

A University spokesperson provided the following statement: “The University of Cambridge, Colleges and student representatives have spent the summer months putting in place Stay Safe measures. A range of resources, including videos and information packs, are being used to share the latest public health guidance and explain how it applies to life in Cambridge, as well as communicate infection control measures in place and planning for future scenarios.”

“The University would like this collaborative dialogue to continue as these measures are updated in line with the latest public health and government guidance for Higher Education Institutions.”

“In the event of future ‘lockdown’, Colleges are committed to providing accommodation on a case-by-case basis to all students who do not have any other home to go to”, the spokesperson finished. 

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