ANGUS SATOW: “I don’t just want to win this election. I want to smash it.”
We spoke to Zero Carbon and Magdalene JCR BNOC Angus Satow, running for CUSU President.
The Tab has interviewed all five candidates for CUSU President. Each was asked the same questions.
What do you think CUSU could have done better over the past year?
They have struggled to reach out and be relevant to many. I don’t think people know exactly what CUSU has done. My friends still mistake Charlotte Ivers for the CUSU President and that’s not ideal. CUSU can never be the primary focus for students because of the collegiate system but it can be a real tool for change in Cambridge.
Editor’s note: Charlotte Ivers is Easter President of the Union Society.
Do you have enemies?
[Laughing] Doubtless many. I think anyone who speaks at CUSU council as much as I do probably pisses people off. Particularly as it does last a while. I believe strongly in the things that I believe in and I’m willing to fight for them.
Thoughts on no platforming?
I do think no platforming is often important, particularly in situations where people’s identities are being erased. But sometimes I feel that it does go too far. I saw the recent example of the NUS LGBT+ officer refusing to share a platform with Peter Tatchell. I thought that was ridiculous. I thought that was absurd. They have a right not to share a stage with Peter Tatchell but I think they have a responsibility to as well. They’re supposed to be representing LGBT+ students around the UK and it’s not at all clear – and I’m sure it’s not true – that LGBT+ students are enemies of Peter Tatchell.
As a leader, would you associate more with Angela Merkel or Boris Johnson?
Oh dear Lord, neither. I definitely don’t embrace ideas of big man leadership. I intend to use CUSU president as a platform for different liberation campaigns. I don’t like Angela and I don’t like Boris Johnson. I don’t like their politics and I don’t like the way they go about it. Maybe I’d go for Caroline Lucas. That would be the dream.
Rhodes Must Fall. Yes or no?
Yes. I really think they’re making great points and their approach to history isn’t erasure, it’s reclamation. I think even the way in which we still celebrate through monuments and through paintings on walls oppresses and is colonialist. I think that Rhodes Must Fall students were critically engaging – are critically engaging – with their university.
On decolonising the university: I think greater diversity among porters would be a good place to start. The whole area you surround yourself with is white – white male walls, white male authority. The point that I would make is access continues after you get to University. I spoke with the BME Campaign and that was the point they made to me and I would support them in that. I’m happy to be led by the BME Campaign on issues of decolonisation.
So in first year, first term I went too much to Cindies – Tuesday and Wednesday like several weeks in a row and after that that sort of scarred me and so the Wednesday Cindies I just can’t deal with anymore .. I quite like Lola’s. Magdalene doesn’t often go to Lola’s but I’m a fan of the three-tier system and I’m a fan of the smoking area. I don’t smoke myself but I wish I did, I could make a lot more friends in the smoking area. It’s so useful. I would, but I’m actively bad at smoking. I’m actually incompetent at smoking.
Would you try to influence the autonomous campaigns?
I think that the role of CUSU in that should be providing resources that CUSU has access to. Things like booking rooms and providing services and co-ordination – that’s where CUSU’s role is. It’s also things like pushing the inclusion of the autonomous campaigns on University committees – things like the Gender Equalities Committee or the Health Committee … I do not intend in any way – particularly given my own identity – to influence policy on any of the Campaigns. I intend to support them.
If you were a college, where would you be in the Tompkins Table?
I like my degree and I work hard when I’m not campaigning. Where would I be? Where Magdalene is. Or perhaps, with Magdalene would be better.
Editor’s note: Magdalene is second in the Tompkins Table.
Would you ban the Tompkins Table?
I’m not quite sure where I stand on that but it wouldn’t be the first thing I’d come in and try to change.
What’s the worst thing about Cambridge?
It’s this masochism, this enjoyment of the suffering and the suggestion that that’s just what Cambridge is like. This one-size-fits-all model does not fit people with disabilities, people with learning difficulties who need to work differently. I know people with mental health difficulties for whom just getting up in the morning is an achievement and Cambridge doesn’t really respect that … Welfare will come first for me, not work … We shouldn’t be doing all-nighters very often.
What was the last time you drowned your sorrows in alcohol?
I went out last night but I made sure to be back nice and early for this. Not to be too serious a wanker, I think that idea is sometimes quite problematic in Cambridge – the “Oh we’re really busy and stressed, let’s just have some alcohol”. I like going out, I like dancing, I like having fun and I drink only vodka and coke always. Steadily throughout the night. Actually, last night I had vodka and lemonade, I really pushed the boat out. I had half a shot of whisky at my May Ball and I had to stand still for like ten minutes to avoid any calamity.
What’s the number one thing other people would say against you and what’s your reply?
They might suggest that I was just a one track thing – and I’m just really the divestment guy. I believe strongly in a greater emphasis on environmental justice and climate justice … But as explained in this interview, there’s so much I want to change in this university – on welfare, on liberation, on representation. I really encourage people to vote on my policies. I don’t just want to win this election. I want to smash it. I want to have thousands of votes. Ideally, I want to be able to go to the university and say, “Look, students have voted for this.”
What specific motions would you propose to CUSU Council as President?
One thing I’m interested in is the JCR and MCR representation of voting rights on College Councils. That’s something that might be useful to have a CUSU Council Motion but also needs consultation first. Respecting the student voice, which is something I don’t think they do enough.