Why CUSU should be ABOLISHED
It’s irrelevant, ineffective, and impractical
In spite of the various presidential campaigns for CUSU leadership currently underway, it is difficult to conclude it is a useful or effective organisation. If the trend set by past CUSU elections is replicated this year, the actual number of students at Cambridge bothering to vote will be dismally low. In 2017 turnout stood at just 22.5%, a supposed record high. The overwhelming majority of students (asides from perhaps our friends who study PPE Lite, i.e. HSPS) do not care about CUSU. This isn't just a general apathy; rather, in Cambridge's highly devolved collegiate system CUSU's highly centralised operation bears little or no relevance to the daily lives of most students.
Instead, CUSU is a damning demonstration of the consequences of artificially elevating the importance of people who otherwise would be irrelevant student politicians, with an abundance of soundbite, but a total absence of skill. What non-commercial organisation – which is already dependent on external subsidy – spends approximately £8000 year purely on a website which is far from mind-blowingly sophisticated? Or runs a deficit worth approximately 10% of annual income for years on end, before acquiring more subsidy only to still fail to break even? The sheer arrogance of CUSU attempting to change its funding model to essentially rob democratically disaffiliated colleges is all the more revealing of its pretentious vanity.
The most enraging fact of CUSU, however, is not the incompetence, but the politicisation. It would not be very difficult to mistake CUSU for an extension of Momentum, rather than an institution dedicated to fair representation of all of its constituents. Take for instance the spending of £300 to send students to a highly partisan anti-government protest in London, the attacks on the counter-terrorism programme Prevent or the shameful stigma that CUSU bulletins place on students wishing to attend lectures during these recent strikes. Why on Earth is a student's union wading into national political issues so forcefully, when there are pressing practical issues facing students that CUSU could actually work to resolve, such as poor internet connection in certain university faculties or lack of cross-college CamCard capacity?
The truth is, CUSU does next to nothing for the students of this university. It is not a help, it is a hindrance. It is a parasitic scrounger that takes from colleges and gives little back. We are not a centralised university and therefore do not need a centralised form of student delegation. The big battles are always with colleges and we ought to be encouraging stronger college JCRs as student representation, not sustain a disproportionately political and failing system which barely anyone cares about. CUSU ought to be abolished and replaced by a loose collegiate confederation, which would be free of ideology, and far more closely connected with the students CUSU fails to champion.