The current post-graduate president, Vareesh Pratap, is currently on hunger strikeSarah Anderson for Varsity

The Cambridge SU has called an Extraordinary Student Members’ Meeting after over 200 students signed a petition amid concerns of racism and corruption within the organisation.

Earlier this week, a Varsity investigation revealed allegations that the organisations management team perpetuates a “toxic environment of bullying, unfair treatment and discrimination,” as well as “institutional racism and misogyny” towards sabbatical officers and SU staff.

The SU team notified students yesterday (31/05) that the meeting will take place on the 10th June and is available for all Cambridge students to attend.

The agenda is set to include a series of announcements by the Board of Trustees and a discussion of motions submitted by students prior to the meeting.

The email acknowledges that “students currently have various issues and concerns regarding the SU’s effectiveness in fulfilling its objectives, as well as concerns regarding students’ overall Welfare, College, and University experience”.

The current post-graduate president, Vareesh Pratap, is also currently on hunger strike after accusing the Cambridge SU of having become a “quasi-family business”.

Earlier this week, a group of students launched the petition that successfully triggered the meeting, which was required to reach a threshold of 200 signatures.

Students stated that they “are deeply alarmed that half of the eight sabbatical officers have already resigned prematurely”. They also reported feeling disturbed that “there is a recurring trend of sabbatical officers from marginalised identities” stepping down.

This also comes as multiple college’s JCRs and MCRs have criticised the SUN over their financial transparency. Varsity understands that the presidents of Emmanuel, Pembroke, and Girton MCRs (postgraduate students’ unions) held a meeting with Pratap over his concerns with SU corruption.

Following this, the Emmanuel MCR has scheduled a meeting to discuss disaffiliation with the SU over their lack of transparency and effective representation for postgraduate students, Varsity understands.

Corpus Christi remains the only college as of present to be formally disaffiliated form the SU. This came in 2010 amid concerns that the financial relationship between the two institutions had become untenable.

Documents seen by Varsity also detailed allegations, presented by Pratap to the MCRs, that 80% of the SU’s £1 million budget is reportedly used for staff salaries.

In response to the arrangement of the meeting, students said: “This achievement was particularly challenging given the widespread disillusionment with the Cambridge SU.”

They said that this disillusionment was evidenced by low engagement in student council meetings and the resignation of four sabbatical officers halfway through their terms.

This comes after the annual Student Members’ Meeting was postponed after it failed to meet the required attendance of 100 people.


Mountain View

Cambridge SU accused of racism, nepotism, and bullying by staff

Following the open letter and petition, the SU has also recently launched a democracy review form on its website, asking students to comment on what democracy means to them and on the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.

A representative for the open letter campaign said that their “overarching goal is to challenge the status quo and establish a reliable system that can help current and prospective students navigate the complex collegiate university administrative structure more easily”.

“The aim is to ensure that our university experiences are not potentially stressful or intimidating,” they said.

The Cambridge SU, Girton MCR, Emmanuel MCR, and Pembroke GP have been contacted for comment.