Andrew Connell

Today's event marked the last of Cambridge Defend Education's week of action to promote their campaign for a reading week. Starting at 2pm outside the Senate House, students began by fixing banners on the railings.

Andrew Connell

In addition to the rally and wearing blue felt squares to show solidarity with the campaign, a central part of CDE's week five plans has been encouraging students to take their own reading week by not handing in work. CUSU has vowed to act in support of students who face punishment from their college for taking part.

Andrew Connell

Reaction from Directors of Studies has largely been positive, according to the campaign. Some Directors of Studies have even contacted their students to express their support for a reading week, and allowed them to take part on the boycott on handing in work during week five, provided they were made aware in advance.

Andrew Connell

A chant was started shortly after the rally began. Jack Wright shouted: “Whose University?”, before the crowd replied “Our University”. In the speech, Jack told students: “Don’t forget about those people. Don’t forget what you need. Don’t forget what they need.” Wright stressed that not everybody has the capacity to work and then crash after an eight week term.

Andrew Connell

Students also planned a symbolic “sleep-in” in front of the Senate House. The event intended to “send a clear message to university management, share thoughts on how the campaign has gone so far and discuss how we can move forward”, they said.

Andrew Connell

Students continued to make banners and invent slogans. One student told Varsity that even for students without mental health problems, more time is needed to digest the wealth of material from the tripos. He said that the eight week term cannot be justified, especially for students with weekend lectures or supervisions.

Andrew Connell

An anonymous first year student told Varsity that she decided to take part in the campaign after struggling with essays in Michaelmas, and continuing to ask for extensions from supervisors. She struggles with mental health conditions, and would value a reading week for allowing her to work at her own pace. She added that some of her friends didn’t take part because they feared the consequences.

Andrew Connell

Martha, a second year student from King’s, said she had heard that a DoS from one college told students to “not dare” take part in CDE's protests, which involved not handing in work during week five of term. She was impressed by the number of students who have embraced the campaign, especially those who haven’t previously been involved in student activism. She said that even more than welfare, it is a problem with the academic set-up of the University.

Andrew Connell

Although week five ends today, the #endweek5blues campaign says that it hopes to keep up momentum by opening it up to wider student welfare issues, such as intermission. One student said: “It’s going to keep on going – it’s close to people’s hearts.”

Sponsored links

Partner links