All the Cambridge news you missed over the vacation

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The Michaelmas vacation has seen numerous dramatic news sagas unfold: students have put pressure on the university to install rent rebates, safety nets and a no detriment policy, Cambridge has introduced a new foundation year and who could forget the announcement that Lent term was moved online!

But believe it or not, that’s not all the action that’s happened over the past few weeks. The Tab Cambridge has collected all the tiny titbits from open letters to the Queen’s Honours List to sonic booms and professional chihuahuas (??) that you may have missed in the kerfuffle of lockdown life and online learning. So without further ado, here are the most important news stories from the vacation that you may have missed…

Trinity alumni demand divestment

Over 100 alumni of Trinity College delivered an open letter to the college governing body demanding a full divestment from any direct or indirect investments in fossil fuels in early January.

The open letter was signed by 110 alumni, with signatories ranging from students who studied at Trinity in the 50s to graduates of 2020.

The letter read: “It is past time for Trinity to take the well-worn path of divestment. By divesting from fossil fuels, the College can adopt the best investment practice both ethically and financially [and] act for the future of its students and alumni… Trinity’s wealth and standing mean it has a special responsibility to act.”

The letter also highlighted Trinity’s astronomical investment portfolio of “at least £9.1 million” which is involved in the production and extraction of oil and gas. This is the highest figure of any Oxbridge college.

It comes after mounting pressure on the university and its colleges to support a more rapid divestment policy as the climate crisis looms.

Emmanuel demolishes student bar 

Doesn’t this sound drastic! Emmanuel College has started a demolition project on its student bar. But don’t fear Emma students, the demolition is a part of numerous new development projects at the college including the conversion of the former bar to a new cafe. Instead, a new student bar will be built in a converted basement. Phew!

According to the Emmanuel website, the college is in the process of “creating many new student facilities, converting Furness Lodge to provide our student community with a new bar and meeting & social spaces” as well as renovating and upgrading a number of rooms in student accommodation.

Four Cambridge academics make the Queen’s Honours List 

Four current researchers at the University of Cambridge have been included in the Queen’s 2021 New Year’s Honours List which acknowledges the services conducted by individuals across the UK.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of Trinity College, Professor Usha Goswami of St John’s College, Dr Michael Weekes of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, and Professor Valerie Gibson of Trinity College have all received awards.

Prof. Baron-Cohen, who heads the University Autism Research Centre, was knighted for services to autism research, and Dr. Weekes awarded a British Empire Medal for his role in establishing Covid-19 testing centres in Cambridge hospitals.

Sonic boom rattles Cambridge 

Now a rather peculiar news story…

At around 1pm on 13th January, a loud boom was heard throughout Cambridge that reportedly made buildings and windows shake. After confusion at first, the bang was reported to be a sonic boom from an RAF aircraft breaking the sound barrier.

Many Cambridgeshire residents took to Twitter to share their shock and confusion at the noise.

Emmanuel gives students a 10 per cent rent rebate

Emmanuel College has given a 10 per cent rent rebate to all students staying in college accommodation for Michaelmas fees. It follows a substantial rise in pressure on the university regarding rent reductions as hundreds of students pledge to withhold their rent fees during Lent term.

One Emma student told The Tab Cambridge: “I think it’s great that the college has given us some kind of rebate, especially since we weren’t able to make the most of college facilities during Michaelmas term.”

St Catz’s temporary hall opens 

At first, there were some perplexed onlookers as the peculiar marquee was erected behind the college gates of St. Catz in December. But over the vacation, St. Catherine’s College opened its new temporary hall that can be seen from Trumpington Street. The marquee has been constructed whilst “essential renovations” take place on their hall. The marquee has been dubbed the “Catzebo”, a name chosen from a range of inventive names submitted by both staff and students, and will act as the college catering service until 2022.

A current fresher at Catz said to The Tab Cambridge: “Although at the moment it is a bit of an eyesore, it will be really nice to have a bigger hall to make the most of formals and eating in college, and doing the renovations during the pandemic is probably a good time as hall isn’t used to its full potential anyway.”

Girton suspends all cleaning operations 

Girton College has announced to its students that all cleaning services will be suspended for an undefined time period. In an email sent to all Girton students, the college writes: “Following an urgent review of Covid risk assessments in light of a number of factors, including incidents this weekend, we regret that the cleaning service within households is now suspended.”

The college does promise to keep their stance under review once the asymptomatic testing programme recommences at the beginning of Lent term and cleaning of communal areas outside of households, as well as delivery of cleaning supplies to students, is set to continue.

Professional chihuahua hired at Jesus College 

And finally, the last piece of news (and potentially the most exciting) is that Jesus College hired a “professional chihuahua” to operate in one of their courts from the 20th-21st December. The chihuahua was a temporary member of the Jesus welfare dogs team. It sounds like Jesus was the place to be!

So, there you have it, you made it to the end of this article (and to the end of this rollercoaster vacation) and what a whacky ride it has been!

Now we just have to wait for the craziness to continue as Lent begins, but don’t fear, The Tab Cambridge’s news column will be with you every step of the way, bringing you all the gossip and news every week. Stay tuned for more!

Feature image credit: King Ming Lam via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons License), Camfess via Facebook 

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