Welcome to King’s, which is undeniably the best Cambridge college. Only at King’s do we combine the magnificence of Cambridge University – the world-famous Chapel and choir, the spectacular dining hall, the sprawling lawns and gardens – with a restless revolutionary spirit. At first you’ll notice the small acts of our resistance: no gowns or high tables at formal hall, the prominent communist flag in the bar, and the campaign stickers in the bathrooms. But soon, you’ll find yourself drawn deeper into the vibrant and tenacious college community.
That community is embodied by KCSU, which provides King’s students with a much-needed collective voice in college. Together we’ve achieved some great things for students through the years, from the introduction of the C1 key, which lets us open doors and gates to college after hours, to the addition of a low-cost £1.60 meal to the servery menu just four months ago. This year, our priority is to oppose further rises to student living costs – including rent and food prices – as well as to secure adequate financial support for all students affected by the recent cuts.
But our concerns aren’t limited to the student bubble – KCSU has a longstanding reputation for its political campaigning. Back in the 80s, KCSU used to give money to miners strikes, engaged in regular protests and wrote letters to governments. Though nowadays we’re a bit less radical (and no longer allowed to support organisations whose policies do not directly affect students), KCSU remains a politically-charged and very active student union. Most recently, as part of a national campaign, KCSU has fought to ensure that all King’s College staff are paid the living wage (currently set at £7.85ph), and last June we donated just over £400 to the staff hardship fund. While the living wage was paid in 2013-14, the college hasn’t committed to paying it every year – so there’s still a lot of work to be done.
That said, you don’t have to be at all political to enjoy King’s, or even to get involved in KCSU. There is truly something for everyone here – the fact that we’re a bit off-the-wall makes us an inclusive and welcoming space for all. There’s a huge range of college-based societies and sports clubs you can join, whether you’re drawn to our fantastic Boat Club or tempted to try stand-up comedy, drama, music, or art. King’s students have been known to rise up the ranks in the ADC, the Footlights, the Cambridge Union, Varsity, and the Fitzwilliam Museum Society, and to play for university sports teams. You’ll find loads more info on this website, under Sports & Societies and the Activities: Beyond Study page.
As for getting involved in KCSU, there are staggered elections during the year, and therefore many opportunities to take up a position. Every year, people from all experience levels and backgrounds are elected to the KCSU exec, so no one should be put off from standing. If you’re not quite ready for the responsibility but still want to get involved, you can join one of the KCSU working groups which lobby and campaign for specific issues. Emails tagged with [KCSU Announce] in your inbox are your rallying cries.
To find out more about what KCSU does, this website is your greatest resource. You can view the current exec here and KCSU’s Governing Documents here; and you can find out about the issues that KCSU campaigns for, and access the minutes from the exec and Council meetings we attend. Happy reading!
– Eleni Courea, President 2015