The party’s over: John’s pisses on CUSU’s reading week parade

CUSU left out in the cold as John’s unites to shun reading week plan

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It’s Week Five. And for a number of annoying acronyms, including CUSU and CDE, it’s also reading week.

Triggered by stats in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2014 showing only 55 per cent of Cantabs find their workload manageable, various groups think it’s time to #EndWeek5Blues.

Despite this, the survey showed a 91% overall satisfaction and many Cantabs have expressed doubts about the merits of not handing in work this week.

For John’s JCR, the reading week plan has already “reached a dead end.”

No reading week here

In a statement supported unanimously by their JCR, John’s have issued something of a coup de grâce for the campaign.

Branding it “concerning” and “problematic”, the committee ripped large holes in the movement’s thinking.

They were particularly damning of the decision not to hand in supervision work, which, “even if seen as a symbolic gesture, resembles the measures one would take when the negotiations with the other side have reached a dead end.

“In this case, discussions about a reading week with the university faculties have not even started.”


Even had there been negotiations, John’s added, “so many factors” would have to be addressed that this idea could not “be feasible” any time soon.

The cited problems about college finances, international students and accommodation.

In John’s eyes at least, this all adds up to a frighteningly irresponsible image of CUSU. Indeed, the JCR slammed its decision to “outwardly side with this campaign before any research has been conducted” as “concerning.”

CUSU: making enemies every day

This is not a far cry from the more extreme student reaction to the campaign which was described as running “the twin risks of both destroying what makes Cambridge University so great, and, just as worryingly, harming the very people it is trying to protect.”

One member of Pembroke’s JPC (its equivalent of a JCR committee) agreed, arguing a reading week “goes against all Cambridge stands for.”

“In a world in which the task of succeeding gets harder by the day, there can be no better preparation than putting oneself through the remarkable rigour of the eight week term.

Would a reading week really ruin Cambridge?

“Mental health issues aside, a Cambridge degree is by definition world-beating and requires you to be so too.”

Still, does Cambridge go too far in its expectations? Some colleges, including Trinity and Tit Hall, have reportedly recognised the need to offer students more leeway and won’t object to those who need to take Week Five at a slower pace.

With reports of almost half of all Cantabs not opposed to a reading week, it looks like this is an issue that will not be going away any time soon.