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Elections: Will you stand?

last modified Feb 20, 2019 02:12 PM
Some important GU positions are up for election.

Some important GU positions are up for election: two full-time positions, President and Welfare and Rights Officer (shared with CUSU) and two new part-time positions: Faculty Liaison Officer and Disabled Students Officer.

I know you’re all busy and tired, and lots of you are thinking about applying for jobs. But have you considered working for the Graduate Union?

The Graduate Union is a small charity with 3 employees and 6 other shared staff members, and we collaborate with the University to provide representation for our 14,000 members, produce postgraduate policy, and support students. At the GU, we work on every aspect of the postgraduate experience, from providing student welfare support through our Students’ Unions’ Advice Service, to representing you on forty University committees and working groups, lobbying for needed policy changes. We write papers and read strategies and help the University plan for postgraduate students. We’re also a critical friend: we’re supportive, but we provide candid feedback, making clear the centrality of postgraduate students and their experiences to our work.

We run campaigns on issues that affect you: I’ve spent the last six months working on postgraduate mental health – running a survey and discussion events and meeting with the University to work on structural and cultural issues impacting mental health. We also lobby internally: I’ve been lobbying the University to take postgraduate widening participation seriously, for example. We need to make Cambridge appealing and welcoming to students from a more diverse range of backgrounds at postgraduate, as well as undergraduate, level.

Here are some more important projects that I’ve been working on with the GU over the last six months.


  1. Launched the GU Mental Health Survey and had over 1800 responses
  2. Ran successful discussion events on postgraduate mental health
  3. Introduced a new GU Campaigns Budget and Campaigns Committee
  4. Launched two GU working groups - on mental health, and Brexit.
  5. Established a memorandum of understanding with UCU and CUSU
  6. Ran GU Freshers’ events and reached thousands of postgraduate students
  7. Reduced the proposed increase in the graduate application fee
  8. Co-authored a paper on introducing application fee waivers for low-income prospective students, with the Director of Admissions
  9. Ensured that postgraduate widening participation is part of the University’s Student Support Initiative – a £500 million fundraising campaign, which includes £300 million for postgraduate studentships and postgraduate widening participation
  10. Launched a GU strategic review to ensure the best possible representation of postgraduate students
  11. Lobbied the University to improve student/supervisor relationships
  12. Started working with members of the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning to research the postgraduate experience
  13. Ensured that the Breaking the Silence policy on staff/student relationships and power imbalances was communicated to all new supervisors
  14. Championed postgraduate rights on University committees and groups
  15. Ran the GU Michaelmas elections, had increased postgraduate engagement and elected a full Executive Committee!

+ much more!

The Lent Elections are a busy time for the GU and CUSU offices, and for students running for positions, and students engaged with either or both unions. But, unfortunately, most postgraduate students won’t vote in either election. Perhaps because you think that these elections are irrelevant to your daily lives. Through our list of achievements/projects (so far!) above, I’ve hopefully made clear how our work influences so many aspects of your life at Cambridge: from your application and admission, to your relationship with your supervisor, your funding package and your mental health. If you run for President, Welfare and Rights Officer, Faculty Liaison Officer or Disabled Students Officer, you could help us lead the Graduate Union and support students across the University!  

Sofia Ropek Hewson
GU President, 18/19

Interested in standing for election? Why not nominate yourself today!