What’s your greatest achievement this year?

Apparently CUSU have been doing something afterall

access achievement ames condoms CUSU education Flick Osborn gu JCR MCR sabs strategic plan sutton trust welfare

Helen Hoogewerf-McComb, CUSU-GU Welfare Officer & CUSU President-Elect

Oh god, it’s probably condoms.

Don’t get me wrong, Tutor Training has been my highest priority and potentially the most important win for student welfare. But so many have worked on it that it isn’t really my achievement. Condoms, on the other hand, are definitely mine.

Somehow, my biggest individual contribution this year came in the form of a 3500 word paper about why it is super important to have free sexual health supplies for all of our students, followed by a (thankfully brief) discussion with a number of your Senior Tutors about the merits of size options and lube.

It sounds weird, but because of that one awkward conversation, your JCRs and MCRs can now get all of their sexual health supplies for free, saving thousands of pounds each year that they can invest in other welfare projects. Over 100 trained reps now work in the colleges to make sure that students have access to supplies, information and support that will improve their sexual health. Committees in every college have committed to providing sexual health education including consent and relationship education for their new students next year, feeding in to a wider strategy to combat sexual harassment and sexual violence. If that isn’t an achievement, I don’t really know what is.

Happy smiley condoms for happy smiley Helen

Happy smiley condoms for happy smiley Helen

Flick Osborn, CUSU President

It has to be surviving this job (relatively) unscathed and actually enjoying it (a little bit). There have been times when I’ve wanted to scream – change in Cambridge is as slow as anything – but CUSU is growing and it’s getting better at what’s important.

The achievement which took the most effort, building on years of teamwork, is our 2014-17 Strategic Plan. It’s the first one CUSU has ever head; it’s dynamic and student-focused and will make us more relevant to you. It goes hand in hand with our vision for a new, central student hub building in the city – might sound bureaucratic, but if you want an even more efficient, well-functioning SU, these are two big, foundational steps along the way.

And I say even more because we’re massively under-resourced, working in one of the most complex, decentralised university systems in the world and yet still create some change. It’s an immensely difficult job and, for the most part, we do it well. As for the things I would do differently… maybe that’s a question for next week?

Head(tilt)ing for change

Head(tilt)ing for change

Jia Hui Lee, CUSU Education Officer

Working at Cambridge requires a lot of faith. If there is an achievement among several that is perhaps greater than others, it is the ability to keep faith in the face of a University that cares little about the student experience.

Reading about CUSU’s 50 year history saddens me because I see the same struggles replay themselves again and again. A dismissive University. Senior members that disrespect student contributions. A depoliticising decentralised institution. Amidst (and despite) these obstacles, there are passionate students, committed staff, and cutting-edge thinking, and it is faith that has made sure my work is focused on the individuals who struggle to make this place better.

And something tangible? The first ever Teaching Excellence Awards – 190 nominations received from students and 15 lecturers, supervisors and staff members rewarded for the incredible, enriching educational experience you said they offer.

Sam Ruiz, CUSU Access Officer

My greatest achievement this year?  Well – the Shadowing Scheme was kind of a big deal.  2200 applicants, 27 Colleges, 350 shadows and about 290 mentors?  Yeah, it was a bit of a nightmare to organise, but it’s definitely been one of the highlights of my year.

But to be honest, the thing I’m proudest of having done this year was working with my old Faculty to set up a Sutton Trust Summer School – these are basically week-long residential summer schools for state school kids, and Cambridge runs them across 26 different subjects.  AMES didn’t have one before, and this summer it will!  I used to be the AMES faculty rep, so I’m really glad that I’ve been able to both contribute to something as big in scale as the Sutton Trust Summer Schools and help my own Faculty kick-start its outreach work.

So there you have it. Four sabbs who, against all the odds, think they’ve really achieved something this year.  

Got a weird and wonderful question for any of these folk? Comment below and get yours in for next week. Time is running out commenters of The Tab