Cambridge Speaks

Ashley Chhibber, Deputy News Editor 14 November 2013

‘Cambridge Speaks Its Mind’ aims to “provide a safe, anonymous space for students to share their experiences, and then move to effect real, decisive change in the University”. Here are a sample of its testimonies:

“I would have degraded last year – having suffered with my mental health – but if I had done so I would not have been able to come back this year. That is because the college would not have allowed me to stay in college accommodation, and so I would have had to move home. My home environment is hardly conducive to helping my mental health, and I would have had somehow to pay up-front rent…”

“My senior tutor told me I should degrade because my being in Cambridge was placing an ‘unacceptable burden’ to other students and staff. During the degrading process I was offered no help from her at all… When I was granted permission to degrade I had to persistently contact her to find out that it had gone through.”

“Although my college did support my application to intermit (or degrade, whichever you prefer), I was constantly fobbed off when I asked about the outcome of the Application Committee’s decision… The lack of transparency about the intermitting process harms Cambridge students by compounding the shame and stigma attached to mental illness.”

“One of my closest friends has very severe depression, and the college treated her really badly – the tone they used in emailing her was aggressive and they suggested that she was exaggerating the problems. They kept telling her to degrade – it scared her. I went to the Senior Tutor to complain and was told I should just get on with my work and ignore my friend.”