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Meet Alessandro: Your New GU President

last modified Jul 22, 2020 02:01 PM
I have now finished my first month as GU President, and I would like to share with you what is going on with your representatives and with the University

But first, let me introduce myself to you. My role as Graduate Union President encompasses several tasks. There is the University-facing side of the job, when I sit on University’s committees, meet members of staff present papers and motions for new policies and initiatives. There is also the student-facing part of my role when I interact with and support MCRs, postgraduate and mature students, within both Colleges and Faculties. Finally, there is a Team management component, when I make sure to offer support and advice to my team. As you can tell, that is quite a lot of responsibilities, but I like challenges. 

I ran to be GU President for one main reason - to fight for social justice in education. 

Quite often issues of postgraduate and mature students are seen to be of minor importance, and they are often not prioritised. Postgraduate (PG) students make up almost half of the total Cambridge student population – and these figures increase every year – we need to make sure that our voices reach the University and Colleges. This year I'm focussing on key issues such as mental health, career development, housing, finances, inclusivity, and diversity, as well as access to education and representation. 

What are my Plans? 

In the next months, I will aim to work on several issues, but four main targets are on top of my list. First of all, as an openly cisgender gay man, one of my priorities is to make the University, Colleges and Faculties, and more broadly the University of Cambridge, a safer and more inclusive place for minorities. This includes not only LGBTQ+ students, but also BAME students and women, and initiate structural reforms to ensure their representation in and access to postgraduate degrees. You may have seen in my manifesto points such as Diversifying the Curriculum (for PGT) and the establishment of dedicated portfolios and working groups respectively at the College and University levels. Second, I am currently working on the overall experience of Master and PhD students in terms of welfare, mental health, and career development support. There are many services and facilities across the University, but more often than not PG students are not made aware of these resources. A stronger connection with Colleges and Academic Reps will contribute to providing students with effective and prompt support. Moreover, I am aiming to set up easier and transparent systems for identifying funding and teaching opportunities, as well as training and internships. 

Finally, I want to make sure that stronger PG representation this year.

We currently have several plans that we are discussing to improve the political presence of Master and PhD students, as well as mature undergraduate students. The point that I can make here is that, if you have any issue or complaint, if you want to be involved with student education policies, or if you want to suggest changes, please, do get involved. Changes can happen, and we can actually shape the University to improve our experience. However, changes start with you, your experience, and your views. Feel free to visit the GU in Mill Lane, drop me an email, or send me a message via Social Media. We are here to help, and we are here to support you if you have a project or initiative in mind. 

Three things about Alessandro:

My Cambridge PhD thesis is on Archaeology of India and Pakistan, but I have previously studied at institutions located in a number of countries, including Italy, India, Spain, and Greece. I am a proper “nerd”, one of those who reads a lot of books, play vintage video games and read comics, but I am also slightly obsessed with powerlifting and sports in general. My favourite place in Cambridge is Burleigh Street near the Grafton Centre, where I can buy comics and manga, and eat delicious dumplings and ramen.