Ranked: These are the Cambridge colleges with the most Covid infringements

The results may surprise you…

Last time, we spilled the tea on the Cambridge colleges who fined the highest amounts to students in Michaelmas. If you actually read that article (and I mean, has anyone ever read a full Tab article?), it may have left you wanting to know how many students in each college actually ended up breaking the rules to get fined in the first place.

So, I won’t waste your time because you’re almost definitely skim reading through this introduction anyway. Here’s the full list of 26 colleges that responded to our request about the number of recorded Covid infringements in Michaelmas term

The Cambridge colleges with the highest number of Covid infringements

In case you’ve forgotten what our fines investigation showed, we’ve made some tables putting the number of fines at each college against the number of Covid infringements:

The amount fined at each college (purple) vs. the number of infringements at each college (green)

You may have broken rules, but I’m breaking down the data

So let’s think about what these figures can tell us. The glaringly obvious thing I’m sure we’ve all noticed is that Corpus, the college with the highest number of recorded infringements decided not to fine anyone for breaking rules at all. The college declined to comment on the number of students who broke Covid rules in Michaelmas.

Meanwhile, Caius, the college with the highest amount fined to students, hasn’t shared any data relating to the number of Covid infringements in their college, saying they had “no information for FOIA purposes.”  They did say, however, that they issued 22 written warnings and 72 fines throughout the term, putting the average amount fined at roughly £67.

In our previous article, the Caius Master told The Tab: “Caius regrets it has needed to fine a small proportion of its large population of students. The intention of its well-advertised system of graduated fines for types and frequency of infringements was to encourage wise, Covid-safe behaviour. The low levels of infection in the college suggest we achieved that as a community.”

Homerton, the college that comes second on our list with 57 infringements, responded to our initial FOI request late and so didn’t make it onto our initial fines ranking. However, they have since informed us that the student welfare charge at the college came to £1,360 in Michaelmas, which would also put it in second place on the list of colleges who fined the highest amounts to students.

Robinson was third on the fines list but of their 43 Covid infringements only 11 individuals received fines, averaging at £100 each.

King’s reported six infringements but fined £800 last term to 15 students, an average of roughly £53 each. The six recorded infringements also resulted in 46 written warnings being issued in addition to the fines that were levied. There was also an additional infringement by a member of college staff for neglecting to self-isolate.

Other colleges have also disclosed that recorded infringements pertain to groups of people as well as individual staff members or students. At Fitz, £1000 was fined for an unpermitted house party and neglecting to self-isolate. £500 was fined for each occasion. Six of the eight infringements at Sidney relate to unpermitted house parties.

Meanwhile, at Peterhouse, the five infringements recorded pertain to three groups larger than 10 people, and two individual students. John’s have said that in addition to the 22 student infringements, there was one incident of a staff member breaking Covid rules in Michaelmas.

Should colleges have fined students for breaking Covid rules?

What this investigation has shown us is that there’s an evident disparity at Cambridge based on what individual colleges deem to be appropriate disciplinary measures. The result of this in the context of the pandemic is that students at colleges where there has been overall compliance with the Covid rules have been fined higher amounts than students at colleges such as Corpus, where such a high number of Covid infringements did not involve fines whatsoever.

Of course, this data is massively dependant on how colleges have defined “infringement” and on how many actual incidences of people breaking the rules were recorded by college authorities. It’s hard to get complete clarity on this situation, but nonetheless, the disparity that we have seen shows that more thinking is needed on how to standardise disciplinary measures put in place at our university.

Fining was not the only disciplinary measure used the last term in response to the breaking of Covid rules. In our next article, The Cambridge Tab will reveal more disparities in chosen punishments and speak to SU Class Act about how these differences have disproportionately impacted disadvantaged students at the university.

The university press office were contacted for comment. 

Feature image credit: Charissa Cheong, Homerton College crest via Wikimedia Commons and Gonville and Caius College crest via Wikimedia Commons