17-year print run of The Cambridge Student under threat after “frankly disgusting” CUSU cuts
Outgoing Editor-in-Chief Elsa Maishman accused CUSU of “sheer incompetence”.
The Cambridge Student – in print since 1999 – risks becoming a trashy, online-only publication after CUSU’s Board of Trustees proposed a significant cut in “resource allocation”.
In a dramatic front page, the newspapers’ editors speculated whether the proposal would mean “the end of [their] paper”.
TCS’s Lent term editor, Elsa Maishman, allayed all concerns that the paper functions as a mouthpiece for CUSU in a seething Facebook post: “To see such a back-handed attempt to crush us into dust with no warning is quite frankly disgusting. I’m angry, I’m a bit shocked, but most of all I’m just really fucking sad that something that has given so much to so many students might be cut because of CUSU’s sheer incompetence.”
Their print edition said TCS had asked the CUSU Board of Trustees a grand total of eight times whether they could have a deferral of a year to consider alternatives – with no response. In its print edition, the paper also accused CUSU of violating the constitutional two-week requirement for publicly displaying the budget in its offices.
She and Michaelmas editor Jack May indicated on social media they would do everything they could to fight the proposal. CUSU Coordinator Jemma Stewart indicated that one option available is to strike down the budget that the Board of Trustees will be presenting to CUSU Council. CUSU Council is a representative body of JCR Presidents, Vice Presidents and elected CUSU sabbaticals.
Stewart rejected claims of incompetence: “I do not believe that this is an example of ‘appalling incompetence’, nor do I hold any blame with any individuals responsible for the oversight of TCS. This is one of several possibilities the Trustee Board are considering in order to produce a budget for the next year. There have been no decisions.”
This is not the first time the 2015-2016 sabbatical team has clashed with the student media. Earlier in the year, CUSU broke with convention by issuing a strict set of guidelines, demanding that all requests be accompanied by a justification of “public interest”.
They also insisted that the press not name CUSU support staff, who have previously been the subject of press attention – an instruction which Varsity ignored in its print edition this morning. The paper revealed that the Mark McCormack, CUSU’s General Manager, writing on behalf of the Board of Trustees, called the decision “regrettable but necessary”. His email attributed the financial problems to a “reduction in revenue capacity of some income streams”, the “increased size of the sabbatical team”, an “increased organisational cost-base” and “lack of university support”.
The news of budget troubles comes after Varsity revealed in Michaelmas that CUSU was in “financial crisis”. CUSU strongly rejected the allegations in a strongly-worded press statement, calling it a “non-story”. The “crisis” came after CUSU cancelled a book contract because they thought it might have a negative effect on access.
It’s okay. You’ll still have us.