Five activism accounts run by Cambridge students that you should follow right now

Make your timelines a more educational space


Whether it be connecting with friends for a drunken Zoom, a rather painful online supervision, or being able to keep up to date with what’s going on in the outside world whilst stuck inside, it is possible that during the global pandemic social media platforms have become even more important than they were before. And, at a time when there might not have been a whole lot of life events to post about, we have seen the way people use their social media platforms change.

Many of us will have since seen our timelines flood with important posts educating us on aspects of our society that perhaps we did not pay attention to before, and petitions, donation links and reading lists have shown how timelines on our screens can have a material (and positive) impact on the outside world.  It is primarily young people who have been able to harness the power of social media to educate and mobilise, rather than simply to share those #tbt night-out pics which we are all so used to. And Cambridge students are no different.

So, the Cambridge Tab reached out to find some of the best activism pages run by Cambridge students which you can follow right now, and educate yourself over a cup of coffee, on the way to the shops, or even on the loo:

Vive la réVULVAlution (@vive.la.revulvalution)

The overall aim of Vive la ReVULVAlution is to provide a “body-positive, supportive network for young people” and to lobby for significant change to the sexual education curriculum in UK schools. Lucienne Jacobs, Cambridge student and founder of the movement, told the Tab: “I created this page after watching a video of a woman learning to accept her vulva, which was a major insecurity of hers, since she had deemed it abnormal (something which many other women, myself included, have struggled with).

“In this video, there were articles mentioned which stated that girls as young as 9 years old were already approaching surgeons  with their parents and inquiring about labia reconstructive surgery (labiaplasty)- yes, 9 years old. And when asking a plastic surgeon what age was her youngest patient for labiaplasty, the surgeon replied saying she had just performed the surgery on a 15 year old girl. Hearing this broke my heart, and instantly made me want to try and implement some change not only in the curriculum, but also the mindsets of young people.”

Lucienne goes on to say that, through discussions with friends, she discovered that this insecurity was far from rare, and she wanted to do something about it. By breaking open a subject which is still so taboo, she hopes to address serious issues within how the female body and female sexuality are taught in schools and portrayed in popular culture. She points to questions such as: “Why did we never learn about the different forms of a vulva? Why were we forced to learn about it instead through porn, and thus given wholly unrealistic expectations of our own bodies? What else did the National curriculum ignore?”

The page combines playful, inclusive and diverse illustrations of the female body with quotes detailing the often-problematic female sexual experience.

News.uncovered (@news.uncovered)

Max Leadbetter, English student and former Tab editor, created news.uncovered  in response to the need for a platform which reports on major world events which don’t get picked up by the media. He says: ” I started @news.uncovered after seeing more and more Instagram stories about the Yemen crisis. I knew very little about Yemen and liked the way these stories summarised and presented the crisis in small insta posts.”

“On the page, we use this format to share information on world news that is rarely reported by the mainstream media. The posts aim to introduce our readers to a global event, whether it’s the Yemen crisis or Rohingya genocide, in order to educate them. It also has information on what else people can do to help. I’m hoping that people will share our content so as many people as possible can learn what’s going on in our world which the media isn’t covering.”

Each post focuses on a specific global event or news story, and breaks it down into the key information, statistics and main events, points to useful reading resources to find out more and links to the relevant places to donate to or petitions to sign.

 

Clare Loud and Clear

Set up by members of Clare, Loud and Clear is a group working to combat sexual harassment and assault both within the college and the wider university. As well as already working to reform procedures for reporting sexual misconduct through correspondence with Clare and the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA), they are planning to work with the CUSU women’s campaign to design and distribute improved consent workshops. Their Facebook page offers advice and raises awareness of sexual harassment and forms of sexual misconduct, but Loud and Clear are working on so much more. They’re working on a handbook to support their workshops in the upcoming year, as well as “accessible guides to facilitate [sexual misconduct] reporting” and have already submitted a report to both Clare and OSCCA, based on a survey of student’s experiences of sexual assault and harassment within the college.

The group’s founders say that “we wanted to promote a broader culture of accountability, to fight cultures of victim blaming and of silence, and to ensure that students are receiving support as well as adequate education about what constitutes sexual misconduct”. The group, however, is not limiting itself to supporting Clare students alone – they are “trying to build links with other colleges and support similar initiatives or sister groups so that we can ultimately communicate with a network of groups with the same aims across the whole university”. This is bound with a desire to “encourage colleges to take a more intersectional approach to sexual misconduct, better exploring how it affects students differently based on various factors”.

Want to hear more from the founders? Check out their Tab interview here

ClimaTalk

Launched during lockdown, Climatalk makes it easy for students – and everyone else – to understand climate policy by offering short, easily readable articles and social media posts. They expose the jargon used in climate theory, making the field of climate policy accessible to all in bite-size chunks; “perfect for the bus ride home or between lectures”.

Co-founder Emma Heiling, third year land economist at Clare, says that “We started ClimaTalk mainly because we realised that it is often difficult to fully understand climate policy publications […] or simply news articles without having some knowledge of the terminology”, and thus strengthening understanding of and engagement with climate discussions. Emma’s co-founder, Puria Radmard, a second-year engineer at Trinity, notes that they hope this will be particularly useful for STEM students, giving “useful insights into how our course links to the wider context of sustainability policy”, because “a lot of times our courses are taught in a bubble”.

ClimaTalk also offers the opportunity for students and recent graduates to showcase their work – be they articles, dissertations or other university projects – online, and don’t be put off by the idea that climate policy = science and science alone. As they say, this “could be anything related to climate change: policy, science and technology, history, economics… the list goes on”. Their website already has articles on policy key terms, climate policy history and economics, as well as the effect of COVID-19 on the environment – and if they can produce all this in under a month, it’ll be exciting to see what they produce in future.

Check out their website, Facebook and Instagram.

Untangling the knot

Untangling the Knot (@untanglingtheknot) is a page dedicated to the racial experiences of students, and founder Yasmin Kira told the Tab: “Untangling the Knot is a project that interviews PoC students about life in the third space at UK universities. We explore what it is like to feel British, but never look it – and how your university experience affects that.”

The content featured on the page is varied, but the majority of its posts are mini interviews with students about different aspects of racial identity. Previous topics have included: “On religious unease”, “Being the coconut” and “On speech” amongst others. The page has grown rapidly since its inception, with a following of over 2,000 and its founder even being invited to speak in a Q&A with the Director of Inclusion at Netflix. If you want to find out even more about the page, read this interview with the Tab.

Ranging from gender and racial issues, to those of the environment and global politics, following these pages will both support them and teach you – so why not intersperse those brunch pics on your timeline with some activism?

Other articles recommended by this author:

‘Silence is compliance’: How you can speak out against systemic racism

Meet the Cambridge rugby lads running to fight racism

Most influential women and non-binary Cambridge students 2020: Part two