Cambridge SU campaigns for all ‘non-essential’ teaching to be done online

These changes would move the Unversity into line with official SAGE guidance

The Cambridge Students’ Union sent out an email on Tuesday (13th) to all students, asking them to sign a pledge urging the University to move all “non-essential” face-to-face teaching online.

The SU claims to have been petitioning the University for two months to follow the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), and require its staff to move all teaching online, except in instances where the quality of teaching would be dramatically reduced.  

The email preceded news that 11 students at Cambridge had tested positive for coronavirus from a testing pool of 11, 638. In an email sent out by the University today, it was revealed that 0.3 per cent of Cambridge students tested positive for asymptomatic COVID-19 last week. The routine testing of at least two students from each household has taken place since the start of term, with plans in place to expand the programme from Monday. Half the students in every testing pool will be requested to contribute a swab per week so that everyone in the pool will be tested across a two week period. 

Cambridgeshire is still at the ‘Tier 1’ level of restrictions under the new system announced by the government this week. Pubs and restaurants are subject to a 10pm curfew and a blanket ban is in place for gatherings of more than six people. 

The SU’s demands have caused outrage amongst some students. One fresher at Downing College expressed disappointment, saying: “I don’t really think students want this. We’re already getting reduced value for money and all the really big group activities, like lectures, have already been moved online. I’m just not sure it’s necessary.”  

Another student, currently in lockdown due to a positive case in her household, raised concern about the impact a lack of human contact might have on mental health: “Zoom just isn’t the same as actually seeing people, whether in an academic or social setting.” 

The SU’s website details its commitment to working with JCRs to provide a safe environment for students to socialise, pointing out that reducing the risk of transmission in academic spaces is vital to allowing some freedom in the continuation of other events.

A link to the CUSU’s letter to the University can be found here, and official statistics about the University’s current COVID-19 cases here.  

 The Cambridge Student Union has been contacted for comment. 

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons, and screenshots from Your Cambridge SU