83% of attendees voted in favour of Margolis’ restructuring of term at this evening’s meetingLucas Maddalena

The Cambridge Student Union (SU)’s annual student members’ meeting took place this evening (15/03), with all students able to vote in the meeting.

The meeting was centred around three main themes: the SU’s budget, SU Undergraduate President Ben Margolis’ proposal to restructure term, and an emergency motion relating to gendered violence at the University.


Margolis’ proposal was first put before the council at the beginning of this term, and was formally voted on this evening, which was passed with 83% of votes in favour. His proposal is built on the belief that “simple changes” will make the University more “accessible” without making “the University less prestigious,” he said at this evening’s meeting.

He clarified, based on consultations he has had this term, that weekend deadlines will not be banned as previous proposals stated, after students reported that this helped them to spread work across the week. He also emphasised that, with 10-week rent systems at the University, that students’ rent should not be changed. A representative of Peterhouse JCR raised concerns that the 9-week rent charges could pose problems for some freshers at the College.

Margolis noted that the changes would also be beneficial to staff, who, during his consultation period, expressed optimism that they may be able to visit family members or spend time at archives related to their research during the proposed reading week.

Concerns were raised that some postgraduate students, such as Chemists, may not be able to pause their research for a week in the middle of term. Margolis responded that if this were the case, he would ensure that pay would be adjusted accordingly.

Prior to the successful passing of the motion, Sam Carling, a Natural Sciences student and member of the student body, proposed an amendment to the motion on the basis that a Monday to Sunday week would “be detrimental to students in subjects such as Natural Sciences.”

Although the amendment was not passed, Carling believed that starting term a week earlier and being otherwise unchanged - thus maintaining the Thursday to Wednesday week - may make the idea more appealing to University committees, noting that the University has often been resistant to change.


Content Note: This section contains reference to gendered and sexual violence, and some discussion of disciplinary processes

The SU Women’s officer, Chloe Newbold, proposed an emergency motion to support campaigning against gendered violence, which was passed with 97% of attendees voting in favour.

They cited the “everyday” issues that were being highlighted in the media in light of Sarah Everard’s death, which significantly contribute to the “endemic issue [of gendered violence] within higher education.”


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Newbold made it clear that the University “needs to[...] take preventative action” against gendered violence, emphasising in the motion that “the burden of advocacy work around sexual violence falls disproportionately on both the Cambridge SU Women’s Campaign and JCR/MCR Women’s Officers.” Newbold also emphasised at the meeting that “it’s an everyone conversation.”

Expanding on what preventative action would entail, Newbold calls for “better open conversations [and] training for college staff,” rather than what they consider to be “tick-box procedures.” They added that Colleges’ commitment to marginalised students should go beyond “discipline procedures” in order to prevent them from being needed.

The motion also calls for the University to arrange an open meeting and for the establishment of more channels for students to “rightfully protest” actions.

Aastha, the SU’s Postgraduate President emphasised that the motion attempted to tackle this by promoting a “culture of accountability right from the top.”