Cambridge University newspaper urges union to save ‘one of the best student papers in the country’

Labour MP and former CUSU president throws support behind keeping 'high-quality' paper open

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Tuesday 26 April 2016 13:52 BST
Cambridge University
Cambridge University (Getty)

Staff at an award-winning Cambridge newspaper have urged their students’ union to save “undoubtedly one of the best student papers in the country” amid a threat of closure.

In an open letter, around 60 supporters - including past and present staff and students - have said The Cambridge Student (TCS) is “vital” and has earned its place “as one of the great Cambridge student institutions.”

The letter has come after TCS staff announced that Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU), last week, sent an unexpected email informing the team its board of trustees had proposed a radical “reduction in resource allocation” for the paper in its 2016/17 budget.

Although no final decision over the future of the paper has been made yet, TCS said it has taken issue with the late notice at which the team was presented with the funding proposals.

Editorial team members have also expressed disappointment at the fact that they had not been consulted on whether they could manage funding themselves.

Emphasising the paper’s “great success,” the letter says: “Its coverage has remained intelligent and inclusive, true to its founding ethos.

“It has also retained its editorial independence from CUSU, whilst consistently covering news relevant to students, which necessarily includes CUSU activities.

“We do not think it is an exaggeration to say that TCS has earned its the heart of the university’s vibrant community.”

Highlighting the importance of print media, the letter says: “There is something special about holding a newspaper that cannot be replicated online...and TCS’s physical presence gives it a real-world profile that it would not have if it were online only.”

Labour MP for Ilford North, Wes Streeting, is one of the advocates to have added his support for the paper to remain open.

Mr Streeting - who served as CUSU president from 2004 to 2005 - told the Independent students at the university have benefited from having two quality weekly papers.

He said: “I hope a way can be found to save TCS paper edition so that it can continue its fine tradition of producing high-quality journalism and journalists for the future.”

The Student Publication Association (SPA) - the national body that represents student newspapers, magazines, and journalists across the UK - said it would be writing to CUSU this week to, once again, offer its support.

SPA’s new chair, Dan Seamarks, told the Independent: “Print news has an absolute place in students’ unions, and we feel it is of crucial importance for democracy.

TCS is entering its 17th year of production which is testament to its success. It is clearly an important part of the student experience at the university, so we are calling on the union to see this letter as a strong case for keeping the paper in print.”

Mr Seamarks also said the SPA hopes to see “a swift resolution with positive outcomes” which benefit both the CUSU and the newspaper.

A motion has also been written in preparation for submission to the CUSU council on 2 May.

The CUSU council has yet to respond to the Independent’s request for comment.

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