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The first episode of this new term begins with a thrillingly accurate rendition of ‘Ain’t Got No’ by Colonel Spanky’s Love Ensemble.

Switchboard S3, Ep.1

The new hosts for this season, Amber and Eliza, introduce themselves and this term’s podcast while wishing everyone a Happy New Year. After a short mention of the online term to come, they summarise the upcoming episode and announce their partnership with New Music Cambridge, promoting music by Cambridge musicians in every new episode. (02:04).

Next, Katie Chambers the JCR Welfare Officer for Murray Edwards tells Amber about the encouraging tone of her college’s communications over Michaelmas term and their commitment to welfare. She gives insights into how this impacted her and her peers’, especially considering the disparities in policies and communications between colleges. She opens up about her experience as a Welfare Officer, touching on freshers’ experiences and Medwards’ unique response to disciplinary action. She also mentions the complicated situation of returning to Cambridge during lockdown and how this is being handled within her college. Finally, she comments on the role of the JCR within Medwards and how important her job has become in light of the pandemic. (04:24)

Exposing the real dichotomy present between colleges on these topics, Alex Oxford from Homerton tells Eliza her side of the story, starting by summarising the events and controversies of last term. She describes a lot of upsetting inconsistencies in emails and tone from the Senior Tutor as well as a level of distrust between staff and students which existed before Covid. She comments on how unfair the disparities between college policies are regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and how damaging this can be for students. She ends on the idea that their flawed relationship with tutors has discouraged students from returning to college when they might need to and that their JCR have been struggling to represent the students’ views. (13:42)

The hosts then moved on to discussing the Cambridge Rent Strike, starting with Eliza receiving an official statement from Laura Hone. She begins by defining what the strike is and how it began within Cambridge, then discussing how they fit into the national picture of rent strikes. She comments on the strong uptake of people pledging within the university and comparing this to other institutions, discussing people’s motivations to join and the importance of their welfare. She explains how Lent Term plans have changed due to the recent national lockdown and how they’ve adapted their demands to fit the next few months’ needs, as well as the matter returns to Cambridge this term. Finally, she describes the interconnection between Cambridge Rent Strike and Acorn in their campaign against landlords and their aims to raise student awareness about the college’s profit driven motives. (19:50)

To gain a more personal perspective, Amber then moves on to speak to Ellie Arden, a student at Selwyn who has chosen to join the rent strike. She condemns the decision of students returning in Michaelmas, stating it was an exploitative measure by colleges and how she found the Rent Strike to be a great collective to hold the university accountable for this. She then opens up about her personal situation within college and how this impacted her decision to join, as well as her peers’ reaction to the Rent Strike as a whole and how it brought people together. Moving on to the ever topical matter of returns to Cambridge, she opens up about her plans regarding the strike and comments more generally on the university’s plans as a whole. Finally, she praises the efforts of the strike and encourages anyone who is interested to get in touch with their college rep to get involved with Cambridge Rent Strike! (35.34)


Mountain View

Switchboard: Behind the Headlines – Sexual Assault Procedure at Cambridge (S2, Ep.9)

To round off the episode, Amber and Eliza encourage all listeners to share their thoughts on the term to come and what they’d like to hear on the podcast through Facebook (Switchboard) and Instagram (@switchboardvarsitypodcast). Excitingly, they promise to bring ‘the scoop on toope’ as they announce their plans to interview Stephen Toope over the next few weeks, asking for questions and discussion topics from everyone at home! (42:50)

Finally, New Music Cambridge presents the first new Cambridge artist of the term to be featured on the podcast, Matt Haygarth performing ‘Opening/Wake Up’ from his new album ‘Running Standard’. (44:30)

Switchboard is Varsity’s flagship podcast. Episodes are broadcasted every Friday at 8:30pm on Cam FM, and are available on all major podcasting apps via Anchor.

Listen on Spotify!