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: 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 ( 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