PEMBROKE splashes out 6.5K on peculiar piece of FURNITURE
This latest Cambridge extravagance has sparked outrage among students
It’s safe to say Cambridge is not exactly known for its thriftiness.
Rumour has it, in Cambridge dictionaries, ‘frugal’ doesn’t feature.
First (and obviously foremost), there’s the wine, which costs the university over £3 million a year.
There’s the Vice-Chancellor, who gets £1,000 a day for his troubles.
Then there’s May Balls, with Trinity’s annual budget topping £300K.
The students don’t get off lightly either, forking out £150 Cambridge Union membership (during the discount period) – and six quid for a pint at the Maypole or to go clubbing in the basement of Waterstones.
Now these expenses have gone from ridiculous to downright random.
Pembroke College has just paid £6.5K of public money for a DESK.
So it isn’t any old desk: this rough-hewn oak refectory desk was once the writing table used by the poet and Pembroke alumnus Ted Hughes.
But this pricey piece of furniture has provoked outrage among current students, who think the money which was crowdfunded for the purchase could have been raised for something a little bit more pressing.
"This is another example of Pembroke prioritising materialist, elitist shit over the genuine needs of its students," one student told The Tab.
And Evie Aspinall, the future CUSU President no less, and herself still an undergrad at the college, said: "I can think of many better ways to spend £5,000. Putting it towards functioning college Wi-Fi or fixing the heating in my house would be a great place to start."
However, the Fellows have been steadfast in defending the acquisition, which already has pride of place in a supervision room at the top of an extension to the Pembroke College library.
Dr Mark Wormald, the academic behind the controversial project, who happens to be head of all the Senior Tutors at the university, said: "What could be more inspiring to future generations of Pembroke students and writers than to have Ted Hughes’s own writing desk and chair beside them as they read, study, compose?"
Well, almost two more Cambridge bursaries, 325 more library books, 40 more sports grants – or of course, 2,600 VKs (at four for a tenner) – have been suggested as viable alternatives.
Instead, Pembroke set up a website to publicise their bid for donations and offered “rewards” to particularly generous givers as a thank-you for their support. These included: a pack of six notecards of the Ted Hughes inspired stained glass windows, a tour of the college library, a personal guided tour of Pembroke's Ted Hughes collection and a chance to inspect the manuscripts from the collection.
Donors who footed £500 or more had the chance to sit and write at his desk, while for gifts of £1,000 or more, there was also the opportunity to enjoy a meal at the high table and a night’s ‘free’ accommodation.
Measuring roughly 1.5m long and 60cm wide, Hughes’s ink-stained oak table and Victorian elm and ash farmhouse armchair was also where he wrote some of his most famous poems.
Has your college coughed up for anything absurd? Let us know!