Cambridge SU responds to SU Welfare Officer Resignation

Cambridge SU issues statement to fight intensifying criticism

Cambridge SU has responded to the resignation of SU Welfare & Community Officer Harvey Brown with a statement clarifying how the SU works, and its current position on the war in Gaza and the Palestine Solidarity Encampment, with comments disabled on the Instagram post.

Brown expressed his disappointment in the University and the SU for failing to “condemn Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinians, despite both organisations strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022” and their response to the Cambridge For Palestine encampment, in a resignation statement which has now been removed from the SU’s welfare social media pages but have since been reposted by Cambridge For Palestine on Instagram

Harvey Brown, former SU Welfare & Community Officer (author’s own screenshot from the SU website)

The SU’s statement, ‘How Cambridge SU Works’ consists of two parts. The first part, ‘Stances and actions from the Cambridge SU’ is signed by the Cambridge SU Board of Trustees, with the SU “standing by its support for all students affected by conflict, including the horrific war in Palestine, and affirms that their welfare and right to protest will always remain our highest priorities”.

The SU encouraged students who want to “set the direction” of the organisation to engage with its members and democratic processes, as SU policy is set by the Student Council who rely on the motions proposed by Student Members.  

The SU also highlighted its charity status and said “while we can and will always support student’s right to protest, we cannot always use the same tactics as other activists” but did not specify to what “tactics” or “other activists” it was referring.

The first part concluded by outlining the goal of the SU’s Trustee Board as ensuring “the long-term sustainability of the SU” and guaranteeing “there is a representative body for all students, current and future”.

The second part was a statement from the SU Sabbatical Team (SABB Team) ‘on work on policy and solidarity with Palestine’. Caredig ap Tomos (UG Access, Education & Participation Officer) Maroof Rafique (BME Officer), and Fergus Kirman (UG president) condemned the situation in Gaza as a “genocide” and “unacceptable and deeply concerning”. SABB Team said, “we continue to condemn the violence against the Palestinian people by the Israeli military in the strongest words possible, and urge an immediate ceasefire.”

The SABB Team concluded “Together, we can make a difference and contribute to a future where all people, regardless of their background, can live in peace and security”, stressing that their solidarity with Palestine is more than a statement; “it is a commitment to action and a pledge to work tirelessly for a just and equitable world”.  

This comes at a time of further unrest within the SU, with PG President Vareesh Pratap releasing an open letter to the Vice Chancellor, with an attached petition with a list of matters to be resolved and actions to be taken “to safeguard student’s legitimate interests.” Pratap also declared his intention to begin a full hunger strike on the 16th of May. 

Pratap’s petition (author’s own screenshot from the webpage)

University of Cambridge SU, the Vice Chancellor, Harvey Brown, Vareesh Pratap, Caredig ap Tomos, Maroof Rafique, and Fergus Kirman have been contacted for comment.

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