This week, Isabel and Maddy speak to Freshers’ reps about the difficulties of organising Fresher’s week during a pandemic, as well as speaking to some first years about the experience of starting at Cambridge amidst COVID-19.

Switchboard S2, Ep.4Tomas Vieira-Short

To start off the episode we hear from Suzi, who is the first-year representative at St Catherine’s. She talks through the issues caused by the fairly last-minute implementation of the rule of six, and how herself and the other Freshers’ rep have adapted to ensure the best possible experience for the incoming cohort. (1:15). 

Next, former CUSU President Edward Parker-Humphreys discusses student loneliness, an issue he championed during his time in office last year, and the new challenges which social distancing and self-isolation bring. He highlights that 75% of students said they felt lonely on a daily or weekly basis and suggests ways in which the University could help these students. (4:15). 

Dorothy, the development officer at Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club (CURUFC) speaks about the guidelines that they are having to follow, as a high-contact sport, to ensure the highest level of safety. (9:25). 

The discussion shifts to the responsibility of course organisers and lecturers to help students not feel isolated in their studies. Edward also emphasises the need for colleges to create safe spaces for socialisation. (16:02). 

Suzi chats through some events that Freshers’ can take part in that could happen in person rather than online, emphasising the benefits that might emerge due to a lesser pressure for it to be ‘the best week ever.’ (19:55). 

Finally, Freshers Thea and Eve express their feelings about their first week in Cambridge, ranging from the activities, the ability to socialise, and whether they regret not deferring. (21:40). 


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Switchboard is Varsity’s flagship podcast. Episodes are released every Friday on all major podcasting apps via Anchor. Transcripts of all episodes are available via this link.

The Cambridge community is now spread across the UK and around the world, but Switchboard is here to keep you connected. Every episode connects you to an eclectic array of voices and sounds, from Cambridge and beyond...

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