CUSU referendum fails as students confirm they just don’t care

Rachel Balmer 6 May 2014

A survey by The Cambridge Student has revealed chronically high levels of apathy among the student body towards CUSU, this comes as it is announced that the latest referendum has not passed after it failed to reach the minimum voter threshold of 10%.

Initial calculations suggest that fewer than 7% of eligible voters actually cast their votes in the referendum, with at least 10% of students having to vote in favour of the changes in order for them to take effect.

The poor turn-out in the referendum is reflected in a survey carried out by TCS, in which 91% of respondents said that they didn’t vote in the referendum and that they did not care about the changes. Only 60% were even aware that a referendum was taking place. Students questioned cited reasons such as a lack of interest, little relevance and laziness as reasons for not voting in the CUSU referendum. The results provide futher evidence of the high level of apathy amongst the student body towards CUSU.

The referendum, which opened at midnight on 28th April and ran until yesterday, allowed students to vote on whether CUSU would introduce changes to its constitution. The key changes proposed by CUSU included greater student insight into CUSU’s finances, more support for societies and greater transparency.

Michael, a second year Mathematician pointed out that: "A lot of people knew the referendum was going on…. 7% shows that barely anyone cared, about CUSU or the referendum. No one I know was actually calling for these changes." He also pointed out: "When they [CUSU] ignored the RON vote in the elections for the position of NUS delegates, you can't blame students for not bothering to vote again."

A Murray Edwards second year historian agreed also expressing a lack of interest: “Nope, I didn’t vote and hardly knew about it." Tellingly she added, "I don’t feel like the results will actually affect my university experience”.

However, of the few students asked in the TCS survey who did vote, all voted in favour of the changes. This echoes the positive views expressed by students who spoke to TCS prior to the referendum. In particular, they voiced an interest to the increased funding for societies.

In a press release, CUSU president Flick Osborn stated: "It is disappointing that CUSU did not meet this particularly high threshold for these changes to take effect. However, having spent the last week meeting students and discussing the changes, it's clear that there is a strong appetite around Cambridge for CUSU to better support societies, autonomous and ethical campaigns, and change the way it works in the future.”