CUSU goes Marxist: Tompkins Table in danger as Comrade Priscilla declares all colleges equal

Welcome to the People’s Republic of Cambridge University.

CUSU Priscilla Mensah

CUSU, supported by CUSU Council, have tonight signalled their intention to bring an end to the Tompkins Table – the annual academic league table that separates the best from the rest.

On yet another dark day for transparency and top-ranking colleges’ egos, JCR, MCR and CUSU Officers voted 17 – 6 in favour of “a campaign to get rid of the Tompkins Table and amend the way other tables will be published”.

The “other tables” is a reference to the Baxter Table, an internal table available only to college and university officials. CUSU President Priscilla Mensah, who proposed the motion, wants to amend the Baxter Table to make it simply a data set, without explicitly ranking colleges.

The academic rankings have been a Cambridge tradition over the last 34 years, after Peter Tompkins launched his table in 1981 during his days as a mathmo undergrad at Trinity.

In 2015, Trinity was the league leader, while Lucy Cavendish, St Edmund’s and Homerton propped up the rear end of the table.

Where freedom and Trinity pride came to die.

Where freedom and Trinity’s pride came to die.

The table is published annually by The Independent through information that is available on the class lists that are posted at the Senate House.

In a second ground-breaking motion today, CUSU Council voted to support CUSU’s efforts to end long-standing tradition of results being shown off to the public at the Senate House. This would be necessary to stop the publication of the Tompkins Table, which is published on the basis of these results.

President Priscilla Mensah, who has studied at Girton (24th position in 2015), led the charge against the Tompkins Table. She argued that academics support her position and claimed that it was not a “radical” move. She added that all students “work extremely hard to get here”, saying “we are all great”.

The greatest opposition came from Vice President of the Fitz JCR, Damiano, who spoke in opposition of the motion.

He claimed that the Tompkins Table provides an indication of the academic performance of colleges to prospective students and that weaker performing colleges should not feel any “shame”. He also said that ranking colleges can be useful for colleges trying to direct financial resources to other colleges and organise supervision-swap arrangements.

Bye bye, Tompkins Table.

Bye bye, Tompkins Table.

Speaking to The Tab, he said: “This is a classic case of CUSU not thinking through the consequences of its actions”. He said he “did agree with removal of Tompkins table, but by messing with the Baxter Table there’s a real danger we compromise the ability of Senior Tutors to carry out their jobs successfully”.

Women’s Officer Charlotte Chorley countered that the “class lists don’t have a net benefit and we know from consulting with students there are damaging effects on mental wellbeing as well as implications for trans students that need to be taken into account”.

There are existing provisions for students to opt out of having their grades made public, but students are required to present a medical note.

After a discussion that lasted just short of half-an-hour , CUSU Council made their decision to actively campaign against the rankings, as well as publicly available class lists.