The term ‘networking’, in Cambridge, immediately conjures up mental images of milling around in business-wear eating canapes and swigging prosecco, provided by some huge multinational in return for that last remaining bit of your soul once you graduate. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
At CUAI’s NGO Networking event on the evening of the 17th of November, representatives from many Cambridge-based charities and campaign groups gathered to exchange contact details, discuss campaigning methods and plan future collaborations. The turnout was impressive, and a wide range of organisations were represented, from both Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin Universities and also the local area. Discussion focussed on what the best methods of encouraging active participation from broadly sympathetic bystanders might be, with demands on the time of busy students often a problem that limits the person-power of student activist groups. Overall, great connections were made and it is hopefully an event that will be repeated in the future.
Contributor Alfie Denness
CUAI returned to Downing Bar on the 21st October to host its now renowned ‘Jamnesty’ open mic night.
Word had obviously spread since the last event, as we were inundated with requests to play from some really talented musicians across Cambridge’s student body.
Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh got things off to an impressive start with a set of his own material, whilst Jade Cuttle’s delicate voice left everyone enraptured. Returning favourites Zac Evans and Emily Myles both pulled large crowds through the door, and Holly Musgrave left such an impression on the hosts that she has since been invited back to perform at Downing Bar! Clara Collingwood brought a nice change of tone, and we were even treated to a number from CUAI’s very own Tiffany Hui. Time was left at the end for some impromptu performances, with a rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ being particularly memorable.
One of the best things about ‘Jamnesty’ is its ability to attract people who had just dropped into the bar and might not otherwise have come into contact with Amnesty International. Not only were stickers given out and petitions signed, but a total of £285 was raised. Thank you to all the performers and here’s hoping the next event will be equally successful!
Contributed by: Patrick Wernham
Freedom on their minds at Jamnesty
On the beautifully sunny afternoon of the 15th of June, CUAI hosted its annual AmnesTea Party on Jesus Green. Surrounded by Amnesty bunting, balloons, stickers and badges, guests enjoyed the glorious weather and chatted about upcoming CUAI projects.
As well as the summertime beverage par excellence (ie. Pimm’s), AmnesTea Party goers were treated to a variety of delectable savoury goods donated generously by Cambridge student favourites – Nanna Mexico and Gardies – and the delicious Bridges Cafe. However, the selection of sweet treats was even more impressive, consisting of scrumptious donations from Krispy Kreme, Patisserie Valerie, Chocolat Chocolat, Savino’s Caffè Bar Italiano, Fudge Kitchen, and Mr. Simms’ Old Sweet Shoppe.
On the 3rd of May, CUAI had the pleasure of hosting a joint, interactive event, entitled ‘Where your technology comes from: Investigating sourcing practices‘ with Cambridge Wikirate Society.
Wikirate is an exciting and revolutionary new technological platform that provides digital activists with an alternative to ‘clicktivism’ that requires a little more thought and research.
Students from the university gathered on Kings Parade to echo the calls of thousands of protesters worldwide, on Friday 22nd April, in support of the Truth For Giulio campaign.
The campaign aims to bring to light the true events surrounding the tragic death of Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni, whose body was found on the 3rd of February following his disappearance in Cairo on the 25th of January. Giulio’s murder was “This is a fight for academic freedom”, said Priscilla Mensah at the rally. The CUSU president emphasised the Student Union’s commitment to the campaign, offering their condolences to those who knew Giulio, noting too just how acutely the loss has been felt among the Cambridge community.
Cambridge students were not the only group represented at the rally. As well as CUAI, the Cambridge Amnesty City Group lent their support to the event, and as a result the march attracted people from all over Cambridge and even beyond. Within the university, Dr. Anne Alexander from the POLIS department – who had helped draft the letter, which was signed by over 4600 academics nationally, forcing the campaign even further into the spotlight– assisted in promoting an academic interest in the event. Dr. Glen Rangwala, an academic in the department where Giulio worked and one of his supervisors, delivered a more personal account of what Giulio was like, and urged those in attendance to continue to pursue the cause in his name. He dispelled any myth that what happened to Giulio might have been as a result of a lapse in caution: Giulio was well aware of the risks, exercised caution in every way expected of him, and yet was still a victim of this horrific crime.
Downing Bar recently joined the illustrious ranks of London, Paris, and Los Angeles in being host to a human rights concert, and can easily lay claim to being just as much of a success.
The masses poured in on Friday evening (the 29th April) and were treated to a enjoyably diverse range of live music and comedy. There were those who had never performed live before, and those who harbour hopes of a professional career, and everyone in between. The sizeable crowd were treated to both original material, and well-known covers, in an evening that catered for those who came especially for the music, and for those who wanted something a bit more casual. CUAI’s very own Tiffany Hui and Madeleine Lofchy put the rest of the exec to shame by turning in one of the stand out sets of the night!
As always, our reps did not disappoint, and organised a creative and exciting range of awareness and fund raisers as part of CUAI’s focus on homelessness and its effort to support the local charities Students Supporting Street Kids (SSSK) and Cambridge Homelessness Outreach Programme (CHOP).
Christs – Bake Sale on Valentine’s Day
On the 14th of February 2016, Christ’s College held a bake sale, which was well-attended and showed some superb baking action from the MCR – in particular, Christ’s college rep Robin Lamboll would like to give special credit to Robert Bielik for his excellent apple strudel. The event raised £47.
Murray Edwards – Fundraising and Film Screening of ‘Pride’
Throughout the term, college rep Rosanna Gregory managed to raise £30 by doing washing up for people. On Thursday 25th of February, a film screening of ‘Pride’ was held, raising £7.
Caius – Doughnuts at Downing Site
On a cold but beautifully sunny afternoon on 3rd March 2016, Caius reps Madeleine Lofchy and Tiff Hui brought doughnuts to Downing Site, in aid of Students Supporting Street Kids and the Cambridge Homeless Outreach Programme. 2 hours and 180 Krispy Kremes later, they had raised £154, spread awareness about SSSK and CHOP’s work, and supplied their grateful customers with Amnesty stickers to continue spreading the word.
Jesus – Fundraising at Jesus College’s International Women’s Day Tea Party
On International Women’s Day, Jesus College hosted a tea party open for all genders to attend, with music, spoken word and food. Jesus rep Ellie Williams organised collection for CHOP and SSSK at the event.
Clare – Collaboration with Clare Ents
On the 4th of March 2016, Clare college reps Charlotte Dunn and Eleanor Fawcett hosted an unforgettable collaboration between CUAI and Clare Ents. The event was a great success, with an encouraging response from ents-attendees and a night of delicious AmnesG&Ts and AmnesTinis. The college reps helped raise awareness about Amnesty International – in particular its views on the Human Rights Act – as well as the work by SSSK and CHOP. An impressive total of £108.12 was raised.
Downing – Pub Quiz
Downing bar turned yellow on the 8th March as the regular and ever-popular pub quiz was conducted in conjunction with CUAI. Seemingly there are a lot of people still looking for academic pursuits even after a day’s work as attendance was good, and £32 was raised for what is obviously a fantastic cause!
Homerton – Open Mic Night
On the 8th of March, CUAI rep and SSSK committee member Isabel Goodman organised an Open-Mic night at the Portland Arms. The evening involved fantastic acts showcasing music, comedy and spoken words. A charity raffle (with an impressive top prize £80 punting tour as a top prize) was also held. Over £200 were raised overall!
Emmanuel – Combining environmental and social concerns
Through the EnvironENT quiz held on the 10th of March, Emmanuel College Rep Laura Schubert raised £74 for Amnesty homelessness by including SSSK and CHOP.
Fitzwilliam – Documentary Screening of ‘Departing: Arrivals’,
Following on CUAI’s focus on refugees during Michaelmas 2015, the Lent Term fundraiser at Fitzwilliam College took the form of a film-screening and Q&A for the short documentary, ‘Departing: Arrivals’, documenting the experiences of Syrian refugees who have found asylum in the UK. Director Hafsah Naib was on hand to answer questions from an enthusiastic audience, and everyone involved walked away with a greater knowledge of the ‘grey area’ of the refugee experience, which turned out to be very different from media reports. CUCRAG representative Sarah Collins was also present and gave a brief talk about the group’s work in the Calais ‘Jungle’ and how more students can get involved.In the end, Fitzwilliam rep Savannah Tiger Adeniyan managed to raise £40 to go towards CUCRAG’s efforts.
Want to get more involved?
If you want to find out more about what our lovely college reps are up to, or join your college Amnesty group, check out their Facebook pages:
As we start a fresh term in Cambridge and welcome a new Executive Committee, it seems appropriate to take a look back at what CUAI’s college reps and members have managed to achieve throughout the past year.
Number of Letters Written = 1 340
Money raised by CUAI reps for Calaid and CUCRAG (Michaelmas 2015): £388
Money raised by CUAI reps for SSSK and CHOP (Lent 2016): £692.24
Although it is easy to succumb to cynicism and become disillusioned with the state of human rights campaigning in today’s world, it is important to remember that we can make a difference.
Through the power of letter writing, Amnesty International has achieved some phenomenal success stories – achievements that CUAI college reps and members throughout the Cambridge have made a crucial contribution to. If the following good news stories seem familiar, this is because college reps throughout Cambridge have organised letter writing campaigns to address these issues. So, on behalf of CUAI’s ex-College Reps Coordinator, thank you and well done!
Cuba: Artist Danilo Maldonado was released on the 20th of October 2015 – He spent almost 10 months in prison without trial following accusations of “aggravated contempt” after being arrested on 25 December 2014 for transporting two pigs with the names “Raúl” and “Fidel” painted on them.
USA: Ernest Johnson Issued Stay of Execution – The United States Supreme Court issued a stay of execution in the case of Ernest Johnson shortly before he was due to be put to death in Missouri on the 3rd of November 2015.
Argentina: Relmu Ñamku was absolved on the 4th of November 2015 – This Indigenous leader was charged with attempted homicide on 26 October for hurting a policewoman in 2012, when her community resisted eviction from their ancestral land, in Argentina’s Neuquén Province.
Tunisia: Marwan Released – A Tunisian student jailed for engaging in homosexual relations was freed after his sentence was reduced on appeal on the 17th of December 2015.
USA: Albert Woodfox was released on the 19th of February 2016 – He had been in solitary confinement for 4 decades.
China: Peter Dahlin and Pan Jinling Released – A Swedish national who had been held in secret detention since the 3rd of January 2016 on suspicion of “endangering state security” has been released and deported to Sweden.His girlfriend has also been released, although she remains in China.
Singapore: Kho Jabing Issued Stay of Execution – He was not executed on the 6th of April 2016, as had been planned.
Greece: Refugees Allowed Access to Transit Camp– A large transit camp with facilities appropriate for cold weather at the Greek border with “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (Macedonia) is now working at its full capacity providing relief and emergency assistance to refugees arriving in the area with the aim of crossing the border.
If you ever wondered about the actual, tangible outcome of your letters, hopefully this encouraging list of success stories has managed to convince you of their value! Remember – the cause is always worth fighting for.