Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Bringing Cambridge out of the Dark Ages

As you might imagine, there are many pages on Facebook about life in Cambridge and the goings on within the university. One that has become particularly prominent is the page Grudgebridge, where people can post anonymous complaints. This page recently declared that it had a particular opposition to the "drinking societies" that many students feel to be intimidating and encouraging of abusive behaviour.

This has prompted a flood of anonymous submissions giving people's direct experiences of this behaviour in Cambridge, with some responses excusing the drinking societies, and some encouraging the victims of this behaviour to register official complaints. In particular members of the college Trinity Hall were allegedly sent the following message from their administration (source):

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I shouldn't need to explain that it is the system that defends alleged perpetrators at all costs rather than helping alleged victims that "reflects poorly" on the situation.

From my discussions with friends at university, everyone seems to have at least one story of experiencing harassment, and it is very common for female or female-perceived students to have experienced harassment and inappropriate behaviour on more than one occasion.

Whilst minority students do have some well-meaning support, they still overwhelmingly face low-level discrimination, if not explicitly abusive acts, and attempts to maintain this status quo should be taken as the affront to social progress they are. Even small matters such as acknowledging people's pronouns or taking people's particular requirements into account when planning an event are seen as an imposition, or else a huge achievement if these small matters are remembered.

It is high time that the people of Cambridge realised that we are not an imposition. Disabled students, LGBT students, female students, working class students, students of colour - anyone who is made to feel that they don't fit the typical Cambridge narrative and is made to feel that their inclusion is a step too far:

Our existence is not an imposition.

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