BREAKING: CUSU Council votes to kill print edition of The Cambridge Student – after two ties in dramatic vote

TCS consigned to the scrap heap of online-only newspapers.


After an emotional meeting, CUSU Council has voted down – but only just – a motion proposed by representatives of TCS to save the newspaper’s print edition.

The motion sought to preserve a fortnightly print edition of TCS, by making adjustments to the budget presented to CUSU Council for ratification. It wanted to cut TCS’ operations to the “absolute bone”, cutting the print run to 5000 copies and increasing advertising, which had sunk to terrifyingly low levels.

This lack of advertising was attributed at last week’s CUSU Council by Jack May, former TCS Editor, to the failure of a CUSU staff member to secure any revenue in some print editions, while The General Manager of CUSU Who Must Not Be Named – according to a protocol of CUSU – argued that this decline was due to changes in print journalism in general.

Brave journalism and coaster

The dramatic front cover of the most recent TCS print edition.

It was vigorously opposed by Graduate Union President Chad Allen, known for his generally entertaining speeches. He called the newspaper a “lifestyle magazine”. He criticised its news coverage – “old news” printed on “dead trees” – and said it was ceding ground to online only papers.

Remember the one time CUSU sabbaticals didn't refuse to speak to us?

Remember the one time CUSU sabbaticals were friendly to student journalists? #freshersfair2k15

CUSU President Priscilla Mensah told JCR and other representatives not to vote for the motion because it was too “risky”. She said that this was on the advice of the Trustee Board.

Representatives of TCS – Amelia Oakley and Stevie Hertz – responded calmly to often hostile questions from the floor. A previous TCS Editor accused others in the room – “not CUSU” – of “bullying” and said she didn’t believe in CUSU’s version of democracy.

The final vote was 20 against the motion and 17 in favour – but marred by confusions over counting, two ties, proxy votes, a move to a secret ballot to avoid “pressure” and vote switching. Editor of Cambridge newspaper Varsity Eleanor Deeley wrote on Twitter: “If the recount shows CUSU can’t count up to 17 then they’re in deeper financial difficulty than we ever imagined.”

In a subsequent debate on the budget, CUSU President Priscilla Mensah said that it was purely about money – and nothing to do with disliking print journalism: “We are not people that hate students,” she claimed. She called it a “difficult decision” and asked for students to understand where CUSU was coming from.

The motion to ratify the budget – which included the provisions concerning TCS – eventually passed, with 24 in favour,  although 13 reps, including several pro-TCS attendees, voted against it.

The Tab believes everyone should have a say on what CUSU does – even for those of you who don’t have the patience to attend the notoriously fun CUSU Council. Not happy about how your JCR rep  voted? (Or happy?) Let us know your thoughts in the comments and vote in the poll below.