Message on Coronavirus

TLDR: The JCSU wants to support students as much as possible through the pandemic and promote good mental & physical health and welfare. We trust students will use their judgement to make the right decisions about COVID-secure socialising. Please follow the rules and sign up for university weekly testing!

Dear Friends,

I understand that people will have concerns following yesterday's email.  I want to express solidarity with everyone who is finding it tough to adjust to the new rules, especially Freshers and those who do not live with their friendship groups. Our community has been conscious of coronavirus for longer than most in this country, and I know many have worried about it since those early days in January when the students from Wuhan visited College. I know we all want nothing more than to return to normal and have been living under tough restrictions for many months now. I share your frustration about the rules, they are really annoying and they necessarily restrict our ability to socialise closely with other households.

We also have to acknowledge that keeping your distance from those you do not live with is the best way to avoid transmission in College. This does not mean to say you can’t meet your friends, and we are all experienced enough with the pandemic to know which forms of socialising are COVID secure and which ones have a high risk of transmission. I know the autumn weather also makes safer outdoor socialising difficult, and in response College is preparing indoor and outdoor spaces to be used for the purpose of distanced socialising between households, including repurposing the Old Hall to serve as a space for indoor socialising. Another line of defence we have against major outbreaks is testing. To participate in the University’s testing programme, you must give consent using this link: https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus-screening-consentThe JCSU is really keen for 100% of Jesus students to sign up to get a weekly test, so fill in the consent form now!

The JCSU is very conscious that people’s mental health has suffered through lockdown and the restrictions over summer, and to be presented with new sets of restrictions when coming to university makes things even more difficult. This cannot and will not be forgotten. We will be fighting to make sure that an awareness of this is integrated into all College policy going forward. Strong welfare support is available as usual, but we recognise that this is not business as usual. The College will soon be able to share its revised welfare programme which goes the extra mile for students even in these difficult times. As always, you can contact JCSU Welfare Representatives Angus (ah2024) or Honor (ha428) if you’d like a chat. Both the welfare drop-ins and the anonymous messaging service (https://jcsu.jesus.cam.ac.uk/chat-startpage/) continue to be available for students to access. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any suggestions for how you think welfare can operate in the context of the pandemic.

I share your anger and frustration that it feels like nobody in the Government is fighting our corner at the moment. I also totally get that it’s really frustrating to receive conflicting messages from Government and College regulations. Having been involved with the College’s pandemic-response planning since March, I know that they are really trying their best never to be unnecessarily punitive. They are always balancing the need for students to socialise as normally as possible with the very real consequences of hundreds of people from areas with wildly different infection rates coming into close contact. The experience of other universities whose students have already returned has demonstrated the importance of a cautious approach beyond the overall national guidelines, which do not take into account the density and interconnectedness of student populations. I think we also have to appreciate that the experience of care homes has demonstrated how difficult it is to ensure that viral spread remains limited to non-vulnerable age demographics. We must also be conscious of the presence of vulnerable students, staff and members of the wider Cambridge community.

Students deserve to know why College differs from the Government guidance on indoor socialising. The problem with indoor socialising in others’ households is that it is in practice difficult to socially distance properly, particularly without adequate ventilation and regular cleaning. This was why College reluctantly came to the conclusion that it needed to adopt a more cautious approach. I should also make people aware that porters will be doing spot checks on communal areas in households to enforce the College's approach, but will be taking an ‘engage, explain, encourage’ approach in the first instance. If you have any concerns, now or in the future, about how these policies are being enforced, please contact a member of the JCSU or use the anonymous response form.

I am also seeking clarification about the status of shared gardens and different households socialising in them. The rule on gardens outlined in the Master’s email applies only to private gardens, i.e. those which can only be accessed by going through the house.

We really want to listen to your concerns and represent them to College. If you think the rules don’t go far enough, are about right, or go too far, please let us know by using this anonymous form.  The JCSU is meeting the Master tomorrow to talk about this issue, so please make your voice heard and we will represent your views at that meeting. It is our top priority in meetings with College that your student experience, your mental, physical health and welfare are at the forefront of College’s thinking and planning. Having consulted widely with fellow students since the Master’s email yesterday, we are even more aware of these things as major issues that College has to be proactive in addressing. The JCSU will also hold a Town Hall Zoom to get a sense of student views on this issue so that we can best represent them in our discussions with College.

An email is also forthcoming about reporting incidents of assault or discrimination in College during the pandemic. We want College to be a friendly, inclusive, supportive, tolerant and safe community in which diversity is welcomed and celebrated. Behaviour and remarks in conflict with this aspiration should not go unchallenged and unreported. If something happens to you when you're doing something which breaks the rules, you can tell us. The JCSU will ensure that an admission of rule-breaking is not punished if it is in the context of reporting a concern or a complaint. 

Finally, things might get worse before they get better, and the JCSU is prepared for many different eventualities. We want you to know that your health and welfare will always be our first priority. This term will present challenges, but I know that the JCSU and College will make every possible adjustment to ensure that we preserve a safe, rich and rewarding student experience. I know we will get through stronger and I have faith that our community will rise to the challenge and do the right thing. Our number one priority is for college to be a welcoming and friendly environment for students, and we’ll do everything we can to fight for students, their welfare and their mental and physical health.

JCSU love and solidarity ❤️

Aurelio Petrucci - President

Octavia Rooks – Vice-President

Sameer Aggarwal - Secretary

Will Davison - Treasurer

Libby Bryant - Freshers Officer

Jacob Powell - Communications Officer

Sophie Baldwin - Mental Health and Disabilities Officer

Ben Gibson - LGBT+ Officer

Matt Griffiths - Ents Officer

Ollie Dennis - Ents Officer

Honor Abery - Female and Non-Binary Welfare Officer

Angus Harron - Male Welfare Officer

Bobby Mugo - Ethnic and Religious Minority Officer

Jess Molyneux - Women’s and Non-Binary Officer

Zak Coleman - Environmental and Ethical Affairs Officer

Cormac Parks - Access Officer

Heather Jones- Services Officer

Satya Amin - International Officer


Elections, Coronavirus, China and LSWP

Dear Friends,

 

I hope you’re keeping well in these challenging and uncertain times. I hope you’re enjoying your summer (or winter if you’re from that part of the world!) and that you are excited to return back to Cambridge in a mere 7/8 weeks!

 

JCSU Elections

There are two exciting posts up for election this August! The deadline for applications is 23:59 (BST) on Thursday 13th August and the election will take place between 07:00 and 22:00 (BST) on Thursday 20th August. A virtual hustings for the election will take place on the weekend of the 15th August if more than one candidate stands for each position (however, if these dates are not possible for those wishing to stand, alternative dates can be arranged).

MALE WELFARE OFFICER (September 1st 2020 – December 31st 2020)

The self-identifying Male Welfare officer will organise JCSU welfare provision and run welfare events. They also provide contraception and sexual health support; respond to welfare and academic concerns; maintain a good welfare structure in College; raise awareness of welfare and academic affairs concerns; adapt welfare provisions where necessary. In Michaelmas Term they will work alongside the wonderful Honor Abery to ensure that Freshers settle in well and our community stays happy and healthy despite the demands of the pandemic. Since the tenure of this role is one term only, it is a great way to get involved in the JCSU ahead of the whole slate of elections taking place next term!

COLLEGE COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE (September 1st 2020 – August 31st 2021)

The College Council representative will sit on the governing body of College and become a Trustee of Jesus College. You will be part of the decision-making on issues such as the May Ball, Freshers’ Week, Coronavirus planning and the College’s budget. You will sit alongside the JCSU and MCR President, and the MCR College Council Representative. This is an important and interesting role – perfect for someone who is passionate about making the student voice heard. You will see how the College decision-making process works and be able to contribute directly in a place where your view will make a difference. The College Council representative will also be able to attend JCSU Committee meetings.

If you have any questions about any of these roles, please reply to this email or contact Tom Cay (current Male Welfare Officer) or Madeleine Olver (current Council Representative).

Please send your manifestos to me at ap2092@cam.ac.uk by Thursday 13th August. 

 

COVID Planning

The JCSU continues to be involved in finalising College’s plans to ‘reopen’ amid the pandemic. Student representatives are present on the Reopening of College group (RoC) and in many other meetings to discuss the impact of the pandemic and restrictions on student welfare and the student experience. Although many services next year will be delivered in a different way, I hope that most of them will be just as enriching and enjoyable. We are particularly focussed on making sure that student welfare is at the forefront of planning and that Freshers Week is still a great event. If you have any questions about how life might look next term, please look at the FAQs on JNet and if these don’t answer your questions, reply to this email!

 

China Concerns

The JCSU was concerned to hear the news about the College’s relationship with China. Concerns over the financial transparency and academic freedom in our China initiatives are shared by many in our community. We think the China Centre occupies an important role in College, and we are keen to work constructively with College to reform the Centre so that it better represents the values of financial transparency and academic freedom. In the interests of being transparent about what we’re campaigning on, on 9th July the JCSU Committee sent a letter to the Master which called for:

  • A China Centre event on human rights abuses in China.
  • A China Centre event on Hong Kong and the ‘Extradition Bill’.
  • A China Centre event on Huawei and data concerns.
  • Subsequent China Centre events to represent a wider range of views, including those critical of China’s activities or the CCP.
  • Full transparency on the China Centre’s funding, current and historic.
  • A recognition that until now, the funding sources of the China Centre have not been fully transparent.
  • A commitment that Jesus College and organisations within it (such as the China Centre) will not take donations or funding from Huawei - as the China Centre at Oxford University and the Prince’s Trust have done.
  • A full investigation, including student representatives, into the failings of the China Centre to be transparent and seemingly, to uphold academic freedom.

While we wait for a full response from the Master, please know that we take the concern of students from Hong Kong and other groups affected by China’s human rights abuses very seriously and are absolutely committed to making sure that College does the right thing on this issue. If you’d like more information about this issue, or would like to help, please reply to this email!

 

LSWP Internships

The Legacies of Slavery Working Party is a body set up in May 2019 to research and critically consider Jesus’s historic links to slavery, colonial violence and racial science and the legacies of these connections. As part of the LSWP Inquiry, College is funding 8 two-week paid research internships for undergraduate and graduate Jesus students in the term break between Lent and Easter (March-April 2021). Depending on numbers of applicants, in some cases the internships may be cumulated to a 4-week period.

The student interns will undertake research in the College Archives and Old Library, combined with online work with databases and digital collections on each of LSWP’s four research strands: People, Money, Objects, and Ideas. They will be paid £335 a week with meal allowances. The internships are open to all students, from all subject backgrounds. This is a great opportunity to get involved in important and interesting research with a noble goal!

The deadline for application is 5th September 2020. For more details, see the attached document.

Academic Skills Programme

If you benefitted from the academic skills programme this year, please reply to the Writing Coordinator’s email so that it can be renewed and extended in the next academic year!

Very best JCSU love,

Aurelio and the Committee


Update on Plans for Next Term

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to give you an idea of how planning for reopening is happening in College.

There hasn’t been much to write home about from College during lockdown, since everyone’s efforts have been consumed by planning for next term, but as restrictions start to be lifted, we’ll be able to update you about what the reopening of College will look like. College has been putting a huge amount of effort into planning a phased reopening of its services. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on next term is likely to be significant. There are student, Fellow and staff representatives on a College-convened regular meeting looking at changing Government guidance and how it might impact the College.

At the heart of this planning is the student experience and student welfare. JCSU and MCR representatives are speaking up for students in College committees to ensure that, no matter the restrictions next term, life is as normal as possible and impact to students is minimised. College is acutely aware that even two or three disrupted terms represent a big proportion of our time at Cambridge, so we’re working to minimise this disruption!

Almost all of the planning is contingent on different levels of restrictions from the Government, which means (frustratingly!) that most questions about what next term will look like have the answer of “It depends!”, but if you have specific questions – reply to this email and I might be able to give you a rough idea.

The FAQs page on JNET is a really good resource for any queries you may have.

In the meantime, if you have any questions/concerns about next term, the current situation, or anything else, reply to this email! You can also submit anonymously here.

JCSU love,

Aurelio and the Committee