There is disappointment at another term of disrupted teaching Rosie Poser

Sidgwick site on Wednesday (16/02) was unusually quiet - an echo of last years cancelled Lent - except for a few students furtively avoiding the well attended picket lines campaigning to improve supervisor pay.

It’s hard to tell what students really think. At one of the picket lines, strikers tell me “there’s overwhelming support” among the population, “demonstrated again and again over the past five years by public opinion polling, SU and JCR motions.

“The small size of people who aren’t supportive vocalise their opposition on anonymous facebook pages like Camfess not through democratic channels.”

Another striker tells me that “15 - 20 % of students are [crossing the picket line] with their headphones on or pretending to talk to people on the phone. The rest of the people want to talk to us. They might end up crossing the picket line but they want to understand why we’re out here.”

Yet beyond the picket line, the story is more complicated. The students still on the site on Wednesday morning ranged from the supportive to the guilty or the apathetic.

Waiting outside a lecture, a second year law student told me “I get that [staff] should be paid more but on the other hand we’ve got lectures to attend, I’ve got to go to the library.

“I’m sad about the impact it’s having on the students. I’m not the one responsible for the fact that [staff] aren’t paid enough.”

Many are sympathetic with the concerns of striking staff. An English student told me “I understand they’re a last resort and I sympathise with the strikers. But [the strikes] have happened before and they’ll happen again. I have to go to class.”

A history first year said he’s “broadly supportive of the strikes. I crossed the picket line because I’ve got a mandatory seminar. I’m a first year so I don’t want to be missing out on any learning. I feel a bit guilty honestly - I’d prefer to have not crossed.”

Not all the students I spoke to however were sympathetic. One second year economics student said “I think the faculty and lecturers have never had our best interests at heart, they haven’t been fighting for us personally but instead fighting for their interests.


Mountain View

College supervisors support strike despite being unable to take part

“It’s another term of disruptive teaching when I’ve never had a year without disruptive teaching.”

Another economics student agreed, “When my lectures are on I don’t see why I can’t go to them - personally I don’t see why I have to compromise my education for their issues.”

Frustrations with the strikes are not confined to the Sidgwick site, even among student representatives strikers claim to have the backing of.

Speaking to Varsity, Sam Carling, Christ’s JCR President said that “It’s completely inappropriate for Cambridge SU to support these strikes. While they argue they have a mandate from students, as a motion allowing them to was passed at student council, this is nonsense. Student council is undemocratic and unrepresentative – most students don’t even know what it is.

“A small, vocal minority does not imply universal student support. The SU should instead be focussing on mitigating the impact on students’ learning and wellbeing, rather than chasing some abstract notion of solidarity.”

The strikes end on Wednesday next week (02/03).