CUSU bans Corpus and Caius from mental health training sessions in ‘vendetta’

Disaffiliated colleges have been forbidden from accessing CUSU’s welfare training and online voting system

CUSU welfare

CUSU has banned Corpus and Caius Welfare Officers from attending mental health training sessions.

The news follows Corpus’ announcement that it is having a reaffiliation debate, having disaffiliated in 2010.

Affiliation with CUSU is optional and and JCRs can choose to withdraw at any time. Withdrawal removes JCR’s contribution to the CUSU budget, although it should be noted each Cantab contributes to CUSU as a portion of tuition fees regardless. Caius JCR also disaffiliated over two years ago.

Training sessions are intended to allow Welfare Officers to discuss specific issues in their colleges, the CUSU campaigns, and events and ideas for the future.

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Disaffiliate from us and we will destroy you

The decision to exclude colleges from accessing welfare training is particularly puzzling considering the recent “serious email” sent by CUSU Welfare Officer Poppy Ellis Logan to all college Welfare Officers.

In it, she expressed displeasure at the “really poor turn-out” to CUSU’s weekly mental health training sessions. CUSU claims it “tries to train every welfare officer with basic casework skills and information concerning the support networks available within Cambridge University.” 

Corpus Male Welfare Officer James Palmer confirmed that Welfare Officers were “allowed to show up and get training last year” but “going forwards, no disaffiliated colleges will get access to training.”

CUSU has also forbidden Corpus and Caius JCRs from accessing their online voting platform. This system is used by many Cambridge societies, not just JCRs. Exclusion from the system severely inhibits the administration of JCR elections. This is despite CUSU saying that the platform is open to all “University-based groups.”

An informed source has described CUSU as conducting a “vendetta” against these colleges and claims the changes are part of a systematic hardline approach taken by Priscilla Mensah and Welfare Officer Poppy Ellis Logan.

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No more democratically elected JCRs for Corpus or Caius, if CUSU has its way

Speaking to The Tab, CUSU President Priscilla Mensah denied that there had been a change in the relationship between CUSU and disaffiliated College committees. She did confirm that CUSU has decided to “draw a line” under previous practices and only provide services to affiliated colleges.

She expressed concern that providing services to all JCRs, regardless of whether they paid affiliation fees or not, would lead to “mass disaffiliation on the basis of inconsistent service provision”.

“This is not a vendetta. If it were, we would not continue to work with the University to get rid of affiliation fees so that committees could affiliate without the financial burden, and thus receive the services at no cost to them. Right now, there is a cost and that means we have to make tough decisions, albeit reluctantly.”