Anna Menin

Cornelius Roemer is a fourth-year physicist, who last month ended his tenure as Trinity College Students’ Union’s (TCSU) President. He is a prominent voice at CUSU council, and is involved with several committees. He envisions CUSU as a provider of services which JCRs and MCRs cannot.

“CUSU is very well placed to be a body which represents students on all issues which affect students,” he told Varsity.

“Look at sport – it’s too big for colleges, too big for facilities and JCRs to look at…I think CUSU is best placed to do the broad representation of students”. He drove home his emphasis on sport further: “In a way there’s no overall representative for something like sports – there’s no one who looks at the overall student views”.

Roemer currently sits on the Union Development Team and Part-time Executive (PTE), both of which are part of CUSU, and is also a member of the University Council. He spoke about his experience with them.

“I can see everything that’s going on in all kinds of university committees, which allows me to understand how the university makes decisions,” he said, emphasising that this gave him a breadth of understanding outside of “one niche”. He expressed frustration with the limitation of his current involvement, however, saying that on the PTE he didn’t “have any actual power to make change”.

When asked whether his current positions would limit his willingness to effect change, he said his presidency would be “a little bit like a revolution”.

“I’m very inclined to change things,” he said, adding that “there is a lot of potential for improvement”.

“I think CUSU is a big bureaucracy with a limited output, and that definitely needs to change.”

Varsity questioned Roemer on his involvement with the recent referendum to create a Disabled Students’ Officer (DSO), which resulted in a landslide vote in favour. Roemer, though he did not formally declare for either side of the campaign, was one of the few people to publically speak out in any way advocating the 'No' side of the referendum. When asked about this, Roemer was ambivalent.

“I don’t think I was a ‘No’ person,” he said.

He spoke about his role within the Union Development Team, who are currently working on the constitutional changes needed to create the role of DSO.

“I’m trying to make sure the Disabled Students’ Officer will be implemented…there are surprising constitutional problems arising for trying to do this.”

Varsity asked him whether his focus on detail and practical issues would mean that he would hesitate from participating in CUSU’s traditional political efforts.

“People feel like CUSU is representing opinions which are not theirs. They don’t feel represented,” he said. “Being more practically orientated, trying to find solutions to problems, helps, and is what CUSU needs.”

“I see myself as more of an apolitical leader.”

He mentioned frustration with what he perceived as slow-footedness on the part of CUSU during the debate over Cambridge County Council’s proposed street-light switch off which emerged at the end of last year, when TCSU launched a petition.

“When the streetlights issue came up, it was clear that there was a broad consensus, yet CUSU for some reason seemed to have missed the train.”