When a student of a university burns a £20 note in front of homeless person, that university must be shocked and jerked into action. Hair raising behaviour like this sparks close to the bone questions about what values we promote. However, that action need not always be institutional inquiry, massive overhauls, or statutory decrees, although these are most certainly powerful and crucial ways to implement change. As a student at Robinson College observed, change can be collective, grass-roots, and wonderfully beautiful. This is the story of Amy Baxter, who, in response to the money-burning scandal created the termly, submission based magazine BAIT, in an effort to raise funds for the homeless community, through donations to Jimmy’s. BAIT has now been running for three years. Last term’s 5th issue, centred around the theme SPACE, showcased art, writing, and poetry that was both thought-provoking and pertinent both to our own lives and the homeless community the magazine so strives to protect.
As students, we tackle moving between home and university, grappling for individuality between the rooms we grew up in and the cold, bare walls of an 8-week residency. More than physical space, BAIT tackled issues of memory, status, and body. Francesca Rigg and Sophie Thorpe write eloquently about existing in the space of your own body, femininity, and freedom, while Cameron Walter’s photography offers unique insight into his comforts and interactions with the world around him. Alice Gilderdale, the now editor of BAIT explains how “space is important in Cambridge because we occupy such select and privileged spaces – spaces of huge importance and wealth within this city, but we often forget that our everyday surroundings are particular to a select few.”
The magazine shows how awareness of space is crucial to the historically silenced. Esme Cavendish’s essay on occupation in light of last year’s Zero Carbon protests, which culminated in a takeover of the university’s Old Schools building and Greenwich House, is both informative and eye-opening. What does ‘owning’ a space really mean? Who has the right to a space and why? Who should, and could, use space differently? Maddie Pulman-Jones’ discussion of the relatively unknown Soviet film-maker Kira Muratova is engaging, drawing attention to the importance of female ownership of traditional female roles and rooms.
To top off the beautifully crafted magazine, the BAIT team held a launch party in Sidney’s old squash court. Here, true to form, they reclaimed and recreated a disused space to fit the ever-changing demands of this spatially aware student group. Gilderdale explains how “the walls of colleges and university buildings are forbidding, and signify the huge divide between students and locals – the difference between the inside of the ‘bubble’ and the real world.” We are all, no doubt, familiar with Cambridge’s bubble effect. Sometimes it takes going home to notice, sometimes a call from a friend at another university, sometimes coming up close and personal with the hidden spaces and people of Cambridge. Gilderdale notes that the smallest of things can pull you back to reality, adding that she hopes this issue can allow appreciation and reflection on the spaces we are able to occupy in this city.
A huge congratulations to the BAIT team for creating something both so beautiful and so poignant.
BAIT is now open for submissions for its 6th
issue, CYCLES. Send any submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org before the 17th May.