Cambridge University celebrated the 70th anniversary of the first women taking university degrees by disenfranchising junior research staff, and in a way that discriminates against women.

The governing body of the University is the Regent House, which consists of tenured faculty, senior administrators and some research staff. Most of the research in the university is done by postdocs, who are mostly either research associates (RAs) or Senior Research Associates (SRAs). While permanent faculty appear on the roll of the Regent House by right, RAs and SRAs are enrolled only if their department is not part of a Faculty, or if the Faculty of which it is a part agrees to enrol them.

Some faculties, such as engineering and computer science, take an inclusive view and enrol their staff; others, of which the largest is clinical medicine, don't. This is clearly unfair and after much argument we decided to call a ballot directly. Grace 1 of June 27th will remove the requirement that a postdoc be a member of a faculty, or of a department that is not part of a faculty.

The forces of conservatism struck back, in the form of an amendment promoted by the University Council which will impose a waiting period of 3-4 years before a postdoc can vote. As it does not grandfather those postdocs who can vote already, it will summarily disenfranchise hundreds of existing members of the Regent House. This will not only infringe their employment rights; as the qualifying period is 3-4 years of continuous employment, it will discriminate against colleagues who have taken a career break to start a family. Here are the flysheets and here is the back history.

Unfortunately the vote followed the precedent of Brexit and Trump, going the wrong way. One way we can strike back is to vote in the elections for the Regent House, where one of the candidates, Sam Ainsworth, is one of the postdocs who will be disenfranchised in October next year. If he is elected to the Council now, then next October he will be thrown off. This will keep the issue in play and hopefully make it a bit more salient to the powers that be. Please vote here if you are a member of Regent House.

Ross Anderson

For more on the Campaign for Cambridge Freedoms, and more links, see our 2007-10 web page which evolved through various governance tussles; our campaign web page on the IP issue; our 2003-7 web page; and our page on the IP ballot result.

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