The next year will be the most important year in student politics since fees were introduced in 1998. With fees at £9,000, students will be expecting much more for their money and given Cambridge’s institutional resistance to change it will take a strong CUSU to ensure that next year’s freshers are not disappointed.
In light of this, it is heartening that Ros Old has been elected as CUSU President. Of the three candidates, she was the only one who combined experience, vision and competence.
The success of her pro-CUSU affiliation campaign at Robinson shows both her campaigning ability and her understanding of what matters to students.
Ben Gliniecki’s heart was certainly in the right place but with CUSU operating from a position of relative weakness, his campaigning style was probably more likely to antagonise than persuade the University. Wisely, the electorate also decided not to elect Akilah Jeffers, whose record in CUSU and the Union has been nothing short of disastrous.
However, while Old’s election is certainly a victory for common sense, there is still much to be done. Making CUSU more open and getting it a dedicated building is all very well, but what matters is student experience – welfare and teaching – and it is vital that CUSU avoids becoming too inward-looking as it often can. This will be especially important next year.
The next year also presents an opportunity for CUSU to justify its existence to the student population at large. Old’s team will have to engage with the colleges and help them to deal with their respective administrations as well as trying to perform the unenviable task of making the University administration pay attention to its students.
It will be a tough task, but it is an important one. CUSU, JCRs and MCRs will all have to work together and will, for once, require the attention and engagement of students. The best way of doing this will be to show that they understand students and can get things done. We are confident that Ros Old will be able to do this.