A cuppa with CU Northern Soc
A chat with the current Northern Soc president about representation, access, and all things northern.
I sat down with Alicia Maxwell, President of the CU Northern Society. Coming from a northern town not too far away from my own, Grimsby. Alicia and I chatted about what it is like being a Northern student in Cambridge, the events the society has coming up and the importance of representation and access.
Alicia’s role involves working alongside her committee (who sound like a chuffin’ fab bunch) organising events, a lot of emails and logistics, or as Alicia describes it “annoying people in their inboxes telling everyone to come to our events.” These events include, but are not limited to, pub socials, pub crawls, bowling and swaps.
The society has over 300 people on its mailing lists but does not have an official membership list. Alicia tells me about how this is because the society was relatively underground and unofficial until her predecessor Mara took over and set up a proper committee. When Alicia first attended an event in her first year, it was more a word-of-mouth thing with around 10 people, whereas they now have 60 plus people signing up for events like swaps.
The Northern soc recently had a swap with the Welsh soc at Curry King this Sunday (Nov 21st) and are looking to organise other events in collaboration with the Scottish and Irish Soc- keep an eye out if you are interested!
There is also the upcoming ‘A Very Northern Christmas Quiz’ on the 28th of November at Robinson college (8-10pm.) Where you can join them for a chance to test your knowledge and win some prizes. If there isn’t a box of Yorkshire tea up for grabs, I’ll be disappointed. For more info on this, you can check out their socials and fill in the form on Facebook. If you are missing that northern friendliness, be sure to go along to one of the events, Alicia assured me they’re a “super friendly bunch.”
Alicia also added that “we don’t gatekeep” so everyone can get involved. Although “most people are obviously northern” her friend comes along to the events, despite being from Devon, quite possibly the least northern place you can get unless you have the map upside down. But she loves all things northern such as the unmatched music and impeccable scran (Wigan kebab anyone?). It’s as much about Northern appreciation as it is about representation and access.
Northern representation and access
It would be impossible to discuss the northern society without the topic of Northern access and representation. I was excited to hear of the current committee’s work to get a “northern access officer” to help break down the Cambridge stigma. Alicia suggested that there was a lot of “misunderstanding in the divide between the North and the South and I just haven’t seen anyone really made that push in Cambridge at all towards you know focusing on people of the north.” Having visited Cambridge on a Northern access programme myself, I know first-hand how important these types of schemes can be.
We also chatted about how these stereotypes of the university go both ways with Northern students being put off, thinking that it would mean you are ‘surrounded by posh people’ when it’s not really all like that. That’s why Alicia suggested that a Northern access officer who would be able to talk to prospective applicants could break down those stereotypes, adding that “even if that helps on person apply then it’s a small win.”
What do you miss most about the North and why is it the water
On a more lighthearted note, I asked Alicia what she missed most about the North and she went with the sentimental “the friendly people” who wouldn’t “look at [her] weirdly for saying hiya in the street.” I would probably have to go with the tap water, but there’s nothing a box of Yorkshire tea for Hard water can’t fix (not sponsored by Yorkshire tea as of yet.)
This is a northern stereotype I am completely ok with – the northern love of a good cuppa. There’s nothing quite like the end of day debrief and tea break with my housemates. If you would like to get involved or attend any of the upcoming events you can check out their socials (Instagram: @Northernsoc, Facebook: Cambridge University Northern Society)
(You can message them your crsid asking to be added to the mailing list.)
(Feature Image credits: Alicia Maxwell)
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