DCSA EASTER TERM GENERAL MEETING AND DCSA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ELECTIONS
The Easter Term General Meeting of the DCSA took place on Tuesday 31st May at 20.00 in the Common Room. General Meetings happen three times a year and are an opportunity for all DCSA members to participate.
Easter Term is when the majority of the DCSA Executive Committee positions become available for election and the GM is when the hustings take place. Being on the DCSA Executive Committee is a great way to get more involved with College life. See below for all candidates who stood in the election. (More positions will be available in Michaelmas term - look out for more information nearer the time.)
Any current DCSA member can propose (with a seconder) a motion to be voted upon by the members present at the General Meeting, which is the supreme decision making body of the DCSA. See below for the submitted motions.
DCSA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ELECTIONS
The DCSA Executive Committee consists of up to 19 volunteering PhD and MPhil students. Executive Committee members are primarily elected to their positions in the Easter and Michaelmas DCSA elections. The Committee is responsible for a lot of different things (see all here http://www.dcsa.dar.cam.ac.uk/info-book/what-we-do), including organising events, looking after the welfare of students, managing the DCSA budget (including budget allocations for sports clubs and societies), and is there to listen to and voice any concerns from any DCSA member.
There are roles to suit everyone and each post has a different workload commitment, so whether you want to be heavily involved or have less time to spare, there is sure to be a role suited for you. Being on the DCSA is definitely a great way to get involved in College life, but it’s also a great way to meet lots of new people – not only on the Committee, but through all the events. In return for giving their time to the DCSA, certain Committee members can request a College room allocation for the year. All Committee members are invited to at least two DCSA Executive Committee dinners a year and Committee members are often invited to College events, such as the Darwin College Commemoration Dinner and the Annual Darwin Dinner.
All positions are for one year. All DCSA Executive Committee members (including those sitting ex officio) must attend fortnightly committee meetings held on Tuesdays at 20.00. (After the meetings most of us will end up in the bar!) Additionally, everyone is expected to help out at DCSA events.
See the list below for all the positions that were available in the Easter elections and a description of the role, the candidates, and their manifestos.
President – The President is the representative of the DCSA to College, voicing the opinions of the students in College to all College members. They coordinate the committee by chairing DCSA executive meetings and termly general meetings. The President works very closely with the Secretary and Treasurer to ensure work is completed. The President sits in the College Council as a student representative, attends CUSU meetings, and usually sits on two more committees.
Candidate: Elaine Gray (eg453)
Hi, I’m Elaine, a second year PhD student in Psychology and Education and I’m running for DCSA President. I have been the DCSA’s Secretary for the past six months and understand how the DCSA operates. I have worked closely with the current President, Stephanie, and have gained an understanding of her role and its additional responsibilities. I feel I have the knowledge and skills to carry on her work and continue developing the DCSA and its relationship with students.
I have loved my time at Darwin and I want to ensure future and continuing students have the best possible experience. As the President is one of the key links between students and college it is important they be known to students, be approachable, and be willing to listen, which I feel I am. I will strive to increase the engagement of all DCSA members in events, sports clubs, and societies within Darwin. An increased awareness of the DCSA, its duties and responsibilities, and increased engagement will encourage feedback from DCSA members, which will allow the DCSA to act more readily on all matters and be able to continually promote and defend the needs and rights of our students.
I am very invested in the DCSA and I promise to put all I can into this role if elected.
Proposer: Simon Scutts (srs52)
Seconder: Stephanie Ashenden (ska35)
Secretary – The Secretary is the administrator of the committee and Vice President. Alongside the President they ensure that meetings and DCSA business run smoothly. The Secretary ensures up-to-date files of the DCSA’s affairs, minutes, and policy documents are maintained. The Secretary is in charge of the TV room and its bookings. The Secretary sits on the Building and Grounds Committee as well as the Darwin College Society committee.
Candidate: Thea Precht (tlp27)
Hello, my name is Thea and I am a third year PhD student in Chemistry. I am running for the position of the DCSA secretary. I was previously involved in the DCSA as the Events Officer in 2014/2015 which I enjoyed very much. This role gave me a good insight into how the committee functions and included a lot of planning and organisation. As the DCSA secretary I will still be involved in these tasks but most importantly I want to take care of the administrative side of things and ensure that every committee member gets the data and information they need for their work and that the meetings run smoothly. For all Darwinians I will keep up the quick but also fair turnaround of room bookings e.g. for the TV room and make sure that I and thereby the committee are easy to get in touch with. Over the past 2.5 years I really got to love Darwin and I am looking forward to be involved more and work towards making our college a great place for everyone.
Proposer: Meltem Gürel (mg773)
Seconder: Robin Morrison (reim2)
Treasurer – The Treasurer is in charge of all the finances in the committee, reporting how much is spent and assesses the feasibility of projects on a financial basis. They are responsible for ensuring all the societies are receiving the required funding whilst ensuring that the money they ask for is necessary for what they want to do. The Treasurer sits on the College Finance Committee.
Candidate: Stefan Winzeck (sw742)
Although I am not the classical financial guy, I genuinely believe that I could be the perfect fit for the position as DCSA's treasurer. As a data scientist, one of my major task is to make sense of numbers. Indeed, I do not expect to run complicated stats, but my natural affinity for numbers and the knowledge how to use Excel will come quite handy for the job. Since I have talked to our current treasurer Eric, I know what I would be entrusted with. Thus, I am convinced that I have the required skill set to adequately accomplish the tasks accompanied by this position. Besides the technical aspect, I think I am reliable (quick process of invoices/queries), fair (same rules for everyone) and consequent (stick to my word). So, considering both analytical and soft skills, I think I offer the essential qualities we are looking for in our next treasurer, which is why I would be glad if I can count your vote for me.
Proposer: Audrey Birner (aeb70)
Seconder: Sammy Primiano (sjp219)
Admiral of the Punts – The Admiral of the Punts is responsible for all the vessels the Punt Club owns, including the punts, kayaks, canoe, and the equipment that comes along with them. They ensure administrative work is completed alongside maintenance. They work with several trusted Punt Captains to ensure the work is done. They are also the President of the Punt Club and manage the memberships.
Candidate: Michael Gale (mbg28)
I am Michael, a third year PhD student in Computer Science. I have been extremely passionate about punting since I first tried it in my first year and now do it whenever I can. In Spring 2015, I became a Captain of the Punt Club and since then, some of you may have met me when we punted to the Trinity and St. John's fireworks or, if this is your first year at Darwin, during freshers' week when I helped with the punting lessons. I have also punted for the photo society to allow them to take photos of Cambridge from a punt. If elected, I will continue the good work of the previous admirals and ensure that our fleet is well looked after! I will also organise events for members of the punt club, such as trips to Grantchester, punt/kayak races, and picnics on the river -- in addition to the usual events in Freshers' and May week.
Proposer: Isak Herman (ih285)
Seconder: Simon Scutts (srs52)
Women’s Welfare Officer – The Women’s Welfare Officer is the student contact for students who are in need of help or advice. They help students with any difficulties they are having and advise on who they should contact to get further help. The Women’s Welfare Officer is responsible for representation and furthering the needs of female students.
Candidate: Hannah Jongsma (hej33)
Hi everyone, I’m Hannah and I’m a second year psychiatry PhD-student. I’m running for the role of Women’s Welfare Officer. To me, this means being the contact person for anyone in need, and to promote the welfare of students in general and female students in particular. I have spoken to a few DSCA members about the role, including both current welfare officers. I’m a fairly approachable person and I can offer a listening ear. I’m aware of changes in the Deanery structure, which should in theory make the work of the welfare officers a bit easier (but that’s always something to be seen). I am also familiar with the workings of the counselling service. I believe I bring the right experience: I work in mental health, I have a good awareness of the stresses that students face, I have been looking after the welfare of the female rowers for the last year, I used to be a youth leader with St John Ambulance (a first aid charity, so I’m a decent first aider too) etc. I plan to continue the good work of the existing welfare team, with some more room for breaking the taboo/stigma of talking about mental health.
Proposer: Elaine Gray (eg453)
Seconder: Isak Herman (ih285)
Men’s Welfare Officer – The Men’s Welfare Officer is the student contact for students who are in need of help or advice. They help students with any difficulties they are having and advise on who they should contact to get further help. The Men’s Welfare Officer is responsible for representation and furthering the needs of male students.
Candidate: Andrej Turk (at712)
My name is Andrej Turk, I am a second year PhD student, and would like to run for the male welfare officer. Darwin has a fantastic community that I think is worth preserving and I would like to participate as best I can, by taking on the responsibility to support fellow students in need. I will find the time to listen and help you out or try to put you in touch with people who can help you better than me. I will keep my ears open for any problems you might have with settling down, the people in the college, personal issues and any other trouble weighing you down. I am a good listener and will do my best to push through any suggestions you may have on how to improve the life at Darwin or how to rectify things that might be problematic. I will try to make sure that no one feels excluded and will mediate when required. I also promise to keep the condom dispenser in the men’s toilet stocked throughout the year.
Proposer: Luis Nobre (ln280)
Seconder: Holly Tibble (hmt44)
Entertainment (Ents) Officer – The Ents Officers coordinate, organise, and promote the Darwin BOPs, held roughly three times a term. Together with the Events Officer they facilitate the organisation of a wide variety of events in the College.
Candidate: Alex Casalis de Pury (alc99)
My name is Alex Casalis de Pury and I am currently completing an MRes as part of a doctoral training program in graphene technology. I will officially begin the first year of my PhD in October.
I am applying for the role of entertainment officer because I know how to have fun, and I understand the importance of a good party. I also have some experience as a representative from my previous university and understand the importance of this role. Many of us, myself included at times, get too easily bogged down by the work we laden ourselves with. Too many times I have been able to find clarity of thought after allowing myself a short respite, and I think we can all agree it’s healthy to forget our troubles from time to time.
With myself and Luis at the helm, I would look to make a name for our BOPs and hold other events besides. I am interested in adding more variation to the entertainment, using these events for things other than just DJs more often. I would like to look in depth at what is and isn’t possible to find out what we can do to make the BOP better than ever.
Proposer: Patrick Ball (pwb32)
Seconder: Cyan Williams (caw74)
Sports Officer – The Sports Officers are responsible for maintaining the gym and for overseeing Darwin’s sporting societies. (Please note: a change to the DCSA Schedule and Regulations may mean this position is retitled Sports and Societies Officer and will also involve overseeing non-sporting societies.) They are also responsible for organising the Darwin-Wolfson Sports Day, a day of sporting fun against our sister College at Oxford, held every March.
Candidate: James Liley (ajl88)
Hi Darwin! I'm James, 2nd year biostatistician from New Zealand.
I'm very enthusiastic about the importance of sports in university and general life, and will try and bring this to the position. I have had a lot to do with sports at the college and university level; at Cambridge, this has mostly been squash, where I play for the university team. I've also played tennis and mountain-biked at county and university level and previously been on committees of clubs for squash, tennis, mountain biking, distance running and hiking.
The role of Sports officer involves organising the annual exchange with Wolfson College, Oxford. This is consistently one of the best weekends of the year, and I'll strive to keep it that way. I will also maintain the gym, and interface between the DCSA and Darwin's sports teams.
A great benefit of sport is it's effect on mental and physical well-being, particularly pertinent at Cambridge. I will aim to liaise with the DCSA welfare officers to try and develop opportunities for social sport at college. I will aim to organise several smaller informal college sports events in addition to the main Wolfson swap.
Thanks for the consideration!
Proposer: Elaine Gray (eg453)
Seconder: Michael Scherm (mjs277)
College Council Representative (2 positions) – The College Council Reps are elected by the students to represent the College in College Council meetings (held roughly twice a term on Wednesdays at 18.00) and sit ex officio on the DCSA Executive Committee (meaning their Primary Office is the College Council). They bring any matters to the College Council and the DCSA and try to ensure that the needs of all parties in College are being met. For more information contact the current College Council Reps Giles and Maher (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Candidate: Isak Herman (ih285)
Hi, I'm Isak, a PhD student finishing up my third year in the computer laboratory and I'm running for the role of student representative to the college council in which I would be responsible for maintaining the balance of student, fellow, and administrative voices on the highest administrative committee in college. Many of you will know me as the outgoing admiral of the DCSA, and perhaps as the president two years ago. In the latter role, I was explicitly tasked with representing the student perspective to the council and I have a good working relationship with a number of the current council members. While this role is not explicitly tasked with representing the student voice to the administration (that falls to the president), I have spent all of my years in Darwin actively involved with the DCSA and would bring a wealth of experience pertaining to the organizational structure of the student body within college to a committee that relies on the student representatives to balance the demands of the students with those of the rest of the college.
Proposer: Giles Shaw (gwhs2)
Seconder: Ariana Phillips (asp38)
Candidate: Ariana Phillips (asp38)
Hi, I’m Ariana, a third year PhD student in Music and I’m running for the position of student representative to the college council. The role of the college council is to bring together the concerns of all members of the college, from the administrators to the fellows to the students. Over my years at Darwin I’ve been involved with the DCSA and in student life in a variety of roles as women’s welfare officer, women’s captain of the boat club, and president of the music society. In these roles I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Darwin students from a variety of backgrounds, and I would bring this depth of knowledge and experience to the council. As a member of the council I will be a voice for the student body and a resource for my fellow Darwinians.
Proposer: Hannah Jongsma (hej33)
Seconder: Isak Herman (ih285)
Re-open nominations (RON) will also be available for the position of College Council Representative.
The following positions had no applicants and will be available for co-option after the election. If you're interested in either of these positions look out for how to apply, which will be advertised in the upcoming weeks.
Events Officer – The Events Officer coordinates, organises, and promotes social and entertainment activities (other than BOPs), including the Garden Party and BBQ. They are also Chair of the Entertainment Committee, which organises all entertainment events run by the DCSA. For more information contact the current Events Officer, Paddy (email@example.com).
Communications Officer – The Communications Officer is responsible for sending out the Whatsup email, helping to maintain the website, and to otherwise attend to the DCSA communication needs. The Comms Officer sits on the College Computer Committee. For more information contact the current Comms Officer, Stefan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All applicants were invited to the hustings on Tuesday 31st May 20.00 to give a short (~2-minute) speech and all applicants were available to answer questions on the night.
The online election was set up by a current DCSA Executive Committee member not running for any position and the Returning Officer (the Bursar) will verify the results.
Voting was online from Wednesday 1st June 05.00 – Friday 3rd June 23.59.
Three motions were received and are displayed in the order they were received.
MOTION I: To effectively facilitate food waste composting in all student accommodation across Darwin College.
Proposer: Michelle Cooper (mlc74)
Seconder: Maximilian Stammnitz (mrs72)
Under the leadership of our Catering Manager Ivan Higney, Darwin College has made significant steps towards reducing food waste and facilitating composting in the buttery. Over time, this has a significant impact on reducing waste to landfill and supports natural cycles. The residents at 10 Barton Rd have initiated a food composting system in their large kitchen, with the voluntary assistance of individual cleaning staff. Over a short 4 week data collection period (carried out in November 2015) the composting bins collected just over 5kg of food waste which was diverted from traditional bins and composted through the council’s food waste program. This is a significant figure for the 7 students using this kitchen and highlights the impact Darwin College could have if scaled across all accommodation. (Note that composting in this kitchen has continued since this date).
As leaders committed to reducing our environmental impact, we believe that student accommodation composting is essential. We aim to create a similar shift in composting as was achieved for recycling – now a social norm. This would require support from cleaning staff to empty compost bins as part of their regular rounds and a solid communication campaign to communicate the environmental benefits of composting. It is hoped that this initiative will support life long behaviour change for students who take up composting in Darwin accommodation, thus increasing our impact and identifying Darwin as a leader in environmental stewardship.
MOTION II: To review the annual process of kitchen equipment removal.
Proposer: Maximilian Stammnitz (mrs72)
Seconder: Michelle Cooper (mlc74)
In recent years, kitchen equipment including pots/pans and crockery have been removed over the summer break from student accommodation kitchens and donated to charity. Although this is an honorable endeavor, it often occurs without the knowledge of current students, resulting in loss of their property. In addition, incoming Darwinians arrive with an additional financial and logistical burden of having to acquire new equipment unexpectedly.
We propose that this process be reviewed. We recommend that students are notified and given the choice to actively donate items to charity or incoming students.
MOTION III: Institution of full-time Academic Tutor
Proposer: Pedro Feijo (padmf2)
Seconder: Lesley Steinitz (lh435)
While studying in Cambridge can be an enriching experience, it also presents a high-pressured academic environment, with a tendency to exacerbate academic and personal difficulties, as well as a broad range of mental and somatic complications - as it has been widely recognized not only by the CUSU and the GU, but also by the DRC, the Counselling Service and the University itself. These difficulties are the more frequent among more vulnerable student groups, such as the LGBT community, people of colour, people with disabilities, and those coming from very different cultural backgrounds.
As a Graduate College, Darwin should offer, besides the academic and general support to its students, a supporting structure directed at the specific needs of more vulnerable graduate students. Having a large number of students, many of whom only spend one year in Cambridge, Darwin College should provide closer support to those who need it, making sure that every student’s particular situation is taking into account. There is thus the need for support besides that provided by the bodies responsible for the admission and registration of students, as well as the general management of the students’ practical needs. This should include opportunities for students to discuss academic difficulties, e.g. in dealing with their supervisor or the unfamiliar culture in their department or laboratory, and with general academic skills such as writing.
We are aware that the Darwin’s Deanery is being restructured, and that tutors will be hired to consult with students. We fully support these changes. However, we feel that a few meetings across the year might not be enough for some students, especially those more vulnerable. As is the case in other colleges, a fully employed Tutor, available to assist more frequently and on more personal basis, would go a long way in solving this problem.
The DCSA will suggest, support and pressure for the appointment, by the College, of an Academic Tutor. Their role would be to support students in need of closer help regarding the complicated relations between personal life, academic work and the general adaptation to Cambridge, having in account the specificities of each case.
If you have any questions about the GM, motions, or elections please email the DCSA President, Stephanie (email@example.com), or the DCSA Secretary, Elaine (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Minutes from the Lent 2016 GM were approved and can be found here along with the minutes from the Easter 2016 GM.