I have extensive experience of representing students in many spheres of student life during my four years at Cambridge. I know how to run a team of students effectively and am not afraid of confronting authority while maintaining a good working relationship.
2 years on JCR
Before becoming Trinity’s JCR President, I was Vice President and Junior Steward responsible for food, bar and society funding. In addition to making sure that the house keeping chores of Freshers’ week and ents are well-run, I worked on several major projects with the potential to significantly improve students’ quality of life. For example, I rewrote Trinity’s buttery menu according to students tastes as expressed in a detailed survey.
When College was about to purchase new beds, TCSU tried to convince College to listen to students’ preferences and go for a wider option (90% of students favoured the wider option). While ultimately not successful, the struggle made it into the Sunday Times and the Tab.
During my time as TCSU president I wrote two discussion papers that kicked off important discussions. The first paper (see here) makes an economic case for College to reduce the rent it charges students if they want to store their belongings over vacations and don’t want to clear their rooms. Recently, there has been renewed news coverage and a petition has been launched.
The second paper criticised Trinity College for the comparably small degree of formal student representation in its decision making process and suggested that a working group be set-up (have a look at this spreadsheet I created to see how bad the situation is).
As a member of the University Council I have already established working relationships with key University decision makers, including the Vice Chancellor and Registrary, and understand how change can be effected in an 800 year-old institution.
As a Trustee of the University, I have been able to access all papers and minutes and thus have an excellent knowledge of the University’s structure. Usually, it takes CUSU presidents several months to learn how the University works, I will be able to get started straightaway.
I have been a staunch advocate for the independence of Students’ Unions and for student representation on all issues relating to students like the implementation of the Prevent legislation.
CUSU Council and Part-time executive
Through my JCR involvement, I’ve been a voting member of CUSU Council, the major policy making body of CUSU, for more than a year and thus understand well how it functions and what it’s problems are. I’ve been credited as one of a few critical voices of Council (see Varsity’s opinion article) and my speeches and comments have been repeatedly cited in the student press (see here, here, and here).
I have also proposed and seconded several motions, for example, trying to make sabbatical officers submit more motions to Council, make CUSU lobby against street light cuts and prevent the exemption of Colleges from the Freedom of Information act.
Critical of the way CUSU is run and interested in learning more about it before going for a sabbatical position I became a part-time executive on the Union Development Team. The more I learned, the more I became convinced that CUSU is in dire need for a significant change in the way it operates. CUSU as it stands is dysfunctional: it doesn’t connect to ordinary students, its facebook page is all but unused, it doesn’t respond promptly to student and press requests.
When County Council announced its plans to switch off most streetlights in Cambridge between midnight and 6am, I spoke out immediately against the plans, ensured a petition was written for relevant streets around Trinity and proposed a motion to CUSU Council (sadly without effect).
I became an active figure of the “Keep the Streetlights on: Cambridge” campaign, meeting with local City and County Councillors to broker a solution.
Throughout my time at Cambridge, I have been an active course rep. First in Biology of Cells, then Mathematics and finally Physics. In collaboration with other reps, we managed to double the number of meetings and make them constructive. At my suggestion, a working group was set up to review lecture feedback surveys. In addition, I successfully pushed for student representation on the Teaching committee. To connect better with students, I created a facebook page.
This year, I’ve been elected on the Council of the School of Physical Sciences (CSPS) which entails a number of important ex-officio memberships such as the NatSci Tripos Management Committee and CSPS Education committee. I have already learnt a lot about how change on the academic sphere of the University works.
Recently, in collaboration with Umang Khandelwal, I founded the Academic Rep Network at Cambridge to improve the vertical and horizontal integration of academic reps which is still poorly developed.