It is notoriously difficult to make change happen in Cambridge – but not impossible! The first, and often one of the most difficult, steps to making change happen is to realise that you can make an impact!
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Is your campaign to do with students at the University or a wider issue?
Is your campaign goal achievable?
What is the time frame for achieving it?
Is it an awareness raising campaigning or does it have a concrete goal (i.e, a policy you want established/changed?)
What will you methods be? (Possible actions, events etc)
What will your campaign team look like and how will you allocate roles?
How will you deal with press coverage/ potential controversy?
Do you want to work with the university or against them?
How can you pool resources?
Do you need to collect data to support your campaign?
Your College Student Union is there to help you, so locate the relevant officers (and the ones on your side) and talk to them about what is worrying you. They may have some good ideas about who to talk to, or what approach to take. Speak to other students in College- maybe there is a society that can give you some backing (a film society can do a film screening on the topic you are campaigning about, for example). Also, building support in the student body is part of student activism- we’re a lot louder when we speak out together.
The Women’s Officer (and other CUSU Officers) is here to give you the support you need. They can provide you with information, materials and admin support. They will also probably be more familiar with the University and College structure so they can clear away the haze that obscures how the University works.
2) Know Your Allies
It’s really important to find people on all levels of college who support you. This includes not only College and CUSU representatives, but also fellows and administrators. A friendly fellow can tell you who can help you out with a particular concern and can point you away from people who won’t help your campaign. Also, a lot of fellows are really excited by students taking up causes! Far too many really good campaigns have fallen flat because they weren’t able to penetrate the senior ranks and build partnerships among college and University fellows and officials.
That said, grassroots campaigning is incredibly important to raise awareness and create an engaged college. Restricting campaigns to senior level negotiations won’t achieve the widespread social change and awareness we need: we need to build aware, engaged and active movements which coordinate with all levels of the University.
3) Where’s the Power?
Sometimes it’s easy to find out who should be the target of your campaign. But more often than not bureaucracy successfully obscures the path you should be taking. You can be passed along from the Bursar to Housekeeping to College Council to Development… Especially because terms are so short, it’s easy to find yourself confused and feeling ineffective. So it’s really important to find out who you should be talking to: and if they refuse to listen, you can launch a campaign to hold them accountable.