Four sabbatical candidates are uncontested this yearElliot Aitken, Tara Choudhury, Milo Eyre-Morgan, Charli Hendy, Amelia Jabry, Freddie Poser

With voting due to close tomorrow (04/03), Varsity gives you an insight into the manifestos of the remaining candidates in this year’s Cambridge Student Union (SU) elections.

University Councillor

Content note: This section of the article contains mentions of sexual assault

In the competition for University Councillor, Charli Hendy, a second-year archaeologist, is taking on Freddie Poser, a third-year computer scientist, who is running to hold the role for a second term. The third candidate, Peter Jonathan Lucas, who is also running for Disabled Students’ Officer, did not attend the hustings.

The candidate’s manifestos cover various aims, with Charli’s referencing the need for increased Disability Resource Centre (DRC) funding, action on welfare and workloads, and supporting proposals for a new term structure. Meanwhile, Freddie’s manifesto focuses on ensuring a fair response to Covid-19, and increasing transparency of the role.

At last week’s hustings, the candidates somewhat disagreed on their plans for the role. With regards to decolonisation, Freddie principally argued that students need to be consulted, with faculties holding the power to make these decisions. Charli, however, disagreed with this approach, maintaining that, based on her experience in humanities decolonisation groups, the central University needs to take on a more direct admin role.

Charli has told Varsity that she takes issue with several areas of Freddie’s manifesto. For example, Charli argued that it does not reference issues such as DRC underfunding and support for victims of sexual abuse, which she believes should be “central to the university agenda” in order to carry out “institutional change”.

Freddie responded that he is absolutely committed to fighting on these issues, especially support for victims of sexual abuse and I will be releasing more about this as the campaign continues.”

On the topic of support for victims of sexual assault, which his manifesto from last year focused on, Freddie commented during the hustings that he had not realised before taking on the role that his ability to bring about change was “limited.” Talking to Varsity, he criticised Charli’s manifesto for not being “achiev[able]”, explaining that the position of University Councillor “is a role about scrutiny.”

Charli told Varsity that she is “more than aware” of the limitations of the role of the University Councillor, and that she “intend[s] to work towards my manifesto promises whether I am elected or not. It is simply that being elected to the position would improve the efficiency of the process.”

Women’s Officer

Milo Eyre-Morgan is running uncontested for Women’s Officer, which was among the most contested positions during last year’s elections, with five candidates running.

The Newnham Natural Sciences student was LGBT+ Officer of the Newnham JCR for 2019-20, and established a Gender Expression Fund at the College during that time. Currently, Milo is Trans and Non-Binary representative on the SU LGBT+ Campaign and Campaigns Officer for Newnham’s FemSoc.

Milo’s manifesto broadly focuses on their commitment “to making material improvements for all women and non-binary students,” with proposals falling under four sections: Autonomy, Intersectionality, Work, and Safety.

The first section - Autonomy - focuses on accommodation and “respect [for] students’ boundaries,” calling for the “relaxing of residency requirements [...] particularly to support student carers”. Milo also wants to “end period poverty in the University.”

Secondly, they will lobby the University to “run paid, compulsory anti-racism and diversity training,” and to allow greater student control over personal information, such as allowing students to change their name in CamSIS, alongside maintaining and progressing the inclusivity and accessibility of the Women’s Campaign.

Thirdly, Milo will oppose the “casualisation of postgraduate employment, and ensure that postgrad workers are respected in their workplace” They will also “push the University to recognise that there are student sex workers.” A recent SU proposal noted that, according to a 2015 study by the Student Sex Work Project, approximately 5% of students have engaged in some form of sex work. The passing of this motion in February means that the SU will aim to signpost further resources for these students.

Finally, Milo’s campaign promises to provide “refresher” consent workshops and work with other campaigns to promote housing security for students.

BME Officer

Tara Choudhury, a second-year History and Politics student at Sidney Sussex, stands uncontested for BME Officer. If elected she will be the second BME Officer, following Howard Chae.

In her manifesto, Tara emphasises her role as BME Officer at Sidney Sussex, and her involvement in the university-wide BME Campaign. She is also a prominent member of the Cambridge Rent Strike, having spoken on the radio station LBC and to Tribune, a left-wing current affairs magazine, about the campaign in December 2020.

Tara’s plans build on existing practices and groups, continuing Howard’s commitment to BME-specific mental health services and improving structures for reporting racial harassment. She also intends to retain forums with BME students in order to “encourage an open dialogue” to reflect “the diverse views of our community”, and proposes monthly meetings with college BME Officers to give a greater idea of cross-college views and developments.

She has particularly emphasised the importance of “standardised, transparent and comprehensive anti-racist training to be delivered to all student-facing staff”, citing previous anti-racism workshops she has run at Sidney Sussex.

Tara also plans to create a committee of BME students to work alongside Subject Representatives to push faculties to decolonise the curriculum, having previously undertaken decolonisation work in her college's library.

With regards to access, she is predominantly supportive of student-level campaigns, referring to “the multitude of inspiring grassroots BPA/Black access initiatives” rather than those run by the University or colleges.

Tara has emphasised her desire to nurture a culture and community at Cambridge both for BME students and which “celebrates us and our contributions”.

Double Time Officer

Elliot Aitken, a third-year studying English at Murray Edwards, is running uncontested for Double Time Officer, a non-sabbatical volunteer role. The role represents students studying their degree over an extended period as part of an Adjusted Mode of Assessment. If elected, he would succeed Anna Ward, who is currently running for Disabled Students’ Officer.

Elliot cites his experience as Artistic Director of the Pembroke Players, where he has promoted accessibility and advised on how to “support disabled audiences”. He also notes his involvement in the Murray Edwards JCR, with two years as LGBT+ Officer and now as Transgender and Non-Binary Officer.

One of Elliot’s primary aims is to publicise double-time as an option which could be beneficial for some students. Elliot has ADHD and has split his final year into two years through Double Time.

Many of Elliot’s plans continue the work of previous officers. Similarly to Ward, he has pledged to promote and recommend the 'Double Time Guide' as a resource for those who might consider double-time, enabling them to make an “informed decision”. 

Elliot's manifesto identifies as areas for improvement: standardising the experience of Double Time, making the application process easier and more efficient, and releasing grades to students in each year of study (grades are currently only released to students at the end of their final year).

Elliot also plans to continue hosting socials for Double Time students.

Access, Education, and Participation Officer (PG)

Amelia Jabry, studying the Sociology MPhil at Lucy Cavendish, is the uncontested candidate for postgraduate Access, Education, and Participation Officer (AEP). Last year, when the AEP role was first introduced, Siyang Wei also ran uncontested.

Amelia's headline policy is to scrap the £70 application fee for master's and PhD applicants. She calls the fee "a huge barrier to access" which puts people off applying. This policy, which also appears in postgraduate presidential candidate Anjum Nahar's manifesto, has emerged during this year's election, and did not feature in the manifestos of candidates for postgraduate roles in 2020.

Last year, Oxford University removed its postgraduate application fee following a vote at the Congregation, Oxford's equivalent to Regent House.

Amelia is further pushing for the University to cover the visa fees and NHS surcharge faced by international students, arguing that they have been redundant during Covid-19 when many international students have stayed at home.

Her manifesto also deals prominently with academic clarity, and she pledges to push the University to "publish clear exam requirements and clear scheduling for classes and presentations."

Amelia told Varsity: "Speaking from a master's perspective, my course mates and I felt unheard by our department - something else that is motivating me to apply to this position."

She continued: "Even using my role as an academic rep to write an open letter to our department and host an assembly, we were met with a lack of clarity around our exams, around marking and my department even forgot (twice) about our classes so we turned up to a zoom meeting with no teacher."