Tonight’s meeting was the last meeting of the SU Council for the academic year, and ended with a series of thanks from JCR representatives Lucas Maddalena

Content note: This article contains discussion of the ongoing events in Palestine and mentions of antisemitism

This evening’s (17/05) Cambridge Student Union (SU) Student Council meeting, the last meeting of Easter term, saw the sabbatical team and representatives of the Colleges’ JCRs and MCRs discuss the SU’s response to the events in Palestine. Discussion also covered Barclays investments in fossil fuels and ties to the University.

Votes took place on two emergency motions relating to events in Palestine and a proposal by the Cambridge branch of the Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. The Council also voted on the two discussions that took place last week: firstly, the council voted unanimously in favour of supporting the Justice for Workers campaign; secondly, the Council voted 93% in favour of working towards gym hours dedicated female and non-binary students.

Motion in solidarity with Palestine

In one of two emergency motions proposed at this evening’s council meeting, the SU approved a motion in solidarity with Palestine, brought forward by a representative of the Cambridge University Palestinian Society.

The proposal notes that over 100 civilians have been killed in airstrikes against Gaza over the past month, and echoes concerns of the UN that the strikes “significantly restrict the delivery of essential [humanitarian] services, including the ongoing COVID-19 response.”

The motion emphasises that “the situation in Palestine concerns us all.”

After a long debate - during which concerns were raised that the motion did not adequately propose support for Jewish students as well as Palestinian students, and several attendants expressed that they would not vote in favour of the motion in the absence of Jewish students - the motion was passed with 55% in favour, 16% against, and 29% abstaining.

Subsequently, the SU will offer resources and support to Palestinian students, raise awareness about the situation in Palestine and organise an event in collaboration with the Palestine Society to raise awareness about the ongoing events.

Two procedural motions, in accordance with SU bylaws, were proposed and rejected: the first asked that the discussion of the motion be delayed until the next meeting, on the basis that the motion should not be discussed in the absence of Jewish Council members, who could not conduct work or attend the meeting due to a religious holiday. The second procedural motion, which was also rejected, asked that the motion be discussed and voted on in parts.

Ben Margolis, UG President, made an informal commitment to consult with and support Jewish members of the University community both on issues of timing of meetings, as well as the support promised in the proposal.

Motion to issue a statement in support of UAEM aims

The second emergency motion, which was passed unanimously, will oblige the SU to issue a Public Statement to the University and Cambridge Enterprise on the topic of Access to Medicines. The motion was proposed by the Cambridge branch of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM).

UAEM describes itself as “an international student-led organisation working to improve access to health technologies around the world.” They have continually worked with Cambridge Enterprise on the accessibility of products which they oversee the development of.

The proposal notes that nearly two billion people globally have inadequate access to basic medicines, which UAEM believes universities can play a role in resolving through “improv[ing] accessibility and affordability of products they develop.”

A representative of UAEM emphasised that the passing of the motion was important because it would add weight to their discussions with Cambridge Enterprise and indicate that students were in support of their work.


Mountain View

SU to promote women and non-binary gym hours

Discussion on the Boycott Barclays Campaign

The SU Council also discussed a proposition from the co-chairs of the Ethical Affairs Campaign, to support the Boycott Barclays Campaign and push the University and Colleges to make more ethical banking decisions.

The co-chairs argued that the campaign logically followed on from the University’s and several Colleges’ divestment commitments. One of the co-chairs emphasised that committing to move away from Barclays was linked with commitments to ethical indirect investments.

The meeting’s papers note the role that the banking company has in fossil fuels, alongside the fact that the University and several Colleges bank with Barclays.

If passed at the next SU meeting in October, the SU will both support the campaign and work towards the University cutting ties with the bank. As the proposal was for note, no vote took place.