Darwin College Students' Association

Michaelmas 2016 General Meeting

The Michaelmas Term General Meeting of the DCSA took place on Tuesday 1st November at 20.00 in the Common Room. General Meetings happen three times a year and are an opportunity for all DCSA members to participate. 
Michaelmas Term is when many 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 available positions. The deadline for submitting manifestos has passed.
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. 
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), 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. Additionally, everyone is expected to help out at DCSA events.
See the list below for all of the available positions in the Michaelmas elections (starting early November) and a description of each role along with candidates and manifestos. 

International Officer

The International Officer is responsible for representing and furthering the needs of international students. They try to involve international students in College and organise events aimed at international students.


Candidate name: Yangqing Liu (yl529)

Proposer: Regina Schlütter (rbks2)

Seconder: Aleix Gorchs Rovira (ag853)

The position I intend to apply is the International Officer. Having lived in the UK for four years, I am aware of not only the huge difference between eastern and western cultures but also the lack of communications among students from different cultural backgrounds. Naturally, students feel more comfortable staying inside the circle formed by people from their home country. But as a person with strong curiosity towards different cultures, I am determined to improve the situation so that the unparalleled culture diversity in our college can be more efficiently explored. Being an international student, I personally experienced the difficulty of learning English to integrating into local life. My ability to interact with students from various backgrounds also moulds me as the perfect candidate for this position. With my deep understanding of the needs of international students, my goal is to create a more friendly and diverse environment for our college. I am confident that I will organise events that are tailored to international students and boost cultural interaction. Events like global cooking competitions and small seminar introducing education systems of different countries will be my first choices. I will cherish this invaluable opportunity to contribute to Darwin society.


Green Officer

The Green Officer is responsible for the coordination and implementation of sustainable policies and organises college events promoting awareness of sustainability. They can also sit on the Buildings and Grounds Committee if requested.


Candidate: Bryn Pickering (bp325)

Proposer: Philipp Bräuninger-Weime: (pab96)

Seconder: João Maria Alcântara de Melo Costa (jmadmc2)

Hi, I'm Bryn, a second year PhD student in engineering applying for the role of green officer. I've already been involved with the green committee and would like to continue the good work of my predecessors.
I have experience in student committees. I was president of the 2015 Darwin May Ball, while during undergrad I was secretary, catering and amenities officer and vice president of Robinson college JCR. I've been active in environmentalism throughout. I specialised in Energy, sustainability and the environment for my degree and for three years I led a team of students designing “low-carbon” housing for slums in Latin America. If I take the helm of the Darwin green committee I’ll maintain/improve the following:
- Vegetable garden. With a group of able volunteers, we could yield DarGar’s largest ever crop.
- Staff engagement. I’ll discuss food carbon footprints with the catering team, ethical investment with the financial bursar, energy use with the domestic bursar, and improved composting/recycling with all.
- Student engagement. I’ll continue promoting the One World Challenge (https://www.oneworldchallenge.me/en/c/owc-2016) and organise workshops commemorating Professor Sir David Mackay. The series will teach people to think critically about their individual environmental impact, as David taught.

Candidate: Abdul Rahman Md Din (arb210)

Proposer: Christina Skondrogianni (cs896)

Seconder: Fuyu Zhao (fz253)

Hi, I’m Abdul, an MPhil student in Engineering for Sustainable Development and I am running for the Green Officer position. Darwin is a great and conducive place to live and thrive, and I am very keen to get involved in making Darwin College a vibrant and sustainable place to live and study. I have 10 years working experience in Industrial Health, Safety and Environment prior to my Mphil, with specialisation in Sustainable Development Policies and Energy Management implementation. I was also active in developing awareness programs and functional skill training in the industry I used to work in. If elected, my plan is to continue the great work done thus far and focus on several strategic improvements. This includes facilitating the process to establish the College’s long-term Sustainability Goals and work towards our first Annual Sustainability Report!. This report will help us in measuring the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of our policies and initiatives. It will also serve as a good indicator of where we are in terms of energy efficiency, water consumption, carbon footprint and awareness levels, and how these could be measured and improved year-on-year.


Entertainment (Ents) Officer (1 position)

There are two Ents Officers who coordinate, organise, and promote the Darwin BOPs, held roughly three times a term.


Candidate: Astrid Wendler (aw642)

Proposer: Brenda Valeiras, (bv274)

Seconder: Victoria Franks, (Vrf22)

My name is Astrid Wendler and I just entered the third year of my PhD in Clinical Neuroscience, working on Glioblastoma. As it will take me 4 years to complete my PhD I am not yet in the year of stress and freaking out, leaving me time to get even more involved in college life.

I am applying for the role of Entertainment Officer because I really love seeing people enjoy a good party! I am creative, I love decorating, and I am keen to explore what would be possible to make BOPs even more fun!

I don’t mind spending the whole BOP working, as long as I see that everybody is having fun and enjoys our work. I am a reliable person who is always willing to help the other areas of the DCSA as well. I already have experience in helping with several events that the DCSA hosted, including various events held over Freshers’ Fortnight and events last year, including BOPs.

I have spoken with the current Ents Officers and committee members about what is involved and I believe I’m suited to the role. If you have any questions feel free to email me.


External Officer

The External Officer is responsible for organising Formal Hall swaps with other Colleges and for hosting other Colleges when they visit Darwin for Formal Hall swaps. They also represent the DCSA at CUSU meetings.


Candidate: Oliver Fleck: (orf22)

Proposer: Stefan Winzect (Sw742)

Seconder: Marc Felske (Mf596)

I am applying for the role of External Officer within the DCSA. This position is one that I am very enthusiastic about, as I feel that, during a student’s time in Cambridge, they should be afforded every opportunity to experience as much of the university environment as possible.

Having spent the vast majority of my life in Cambridge, I am extremely familiar with the college framework and have pre-existing contacts at many colleges already. I have previous experience with organising events, both through societies during my undergraduate and master’s degrees, which necessitated good coordination between both representatives of venues, and my peers.

In the coming months, as Simon’s time in the role comes to an end, I intend to work closely with him to ensure a good handover with minimal fuss and establish contacts within other colleges as a foundation to build upon in future.


Events Officer

The Events Officer coordinates, organises, and promotes social and entertainment activities (other than BOPs), including the May Week Garden Party and the summer BBQ.


Candidate: Jessica Dobrin (jd750)

Proposer: Talin Ghazarian (tg396)

Seconder: Iain Hay (imh33)

Hi, my name is Jessica Dobrin and I am a first-year PhD student in Education here at Darwin. I am hoping to join the DCSA committee as the Events Officer because I really like fun, and I believe everyone else should have fun too! I believe I would make a good Events Officer because in the past I have helped to organise events ranging from parades and festivals to fundraisers and even a prom or two. My main responsibilities at Darwin will be to organise events for all college members to enjoy, including (but certainly not limited to) the May Week Garden Party. We will be having a comedy night as well, which I am hoping you are as excited about as I am! Of course, there will be plenty of other smaller social events throughout the year and if you have an idea for an event, please get in touch with me and we can make it happen!


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.


Candidate: Ruben Drews, (rmd60)

Proposer: Vix Franks (vrf22)

Seconder: Meltem Gurel (mg773)


My name is Ruben and I am hereby applying for the position of Communications Officer. Although I am in the first year of my PhD in Medical Sciences, I have felt how important good communication is, as my arrival here was amazingly well organised. This is also due to the efforts of the DCSA which I would like to support in the position of the Communications Officer.

During my earlier studies, I represented my course towards the department and university. Hence, I am familiar with the work of councils like the DCSA. Being the Communications Officer would allow me to not only contribute to the fantastic work of the DCSA and support our societies, but also to personally learn a lot about how life is organized at Darwin.

Before handing in this manifesto, I have spoken to the previous Communications Officer Vix Franks and other DCSA members about the position, and I understand what is involved in the position. I am happy to further help at DCSA events and attend fortnightly meetings. I answer any questions if you have them, either by email or in person. Thank you for your trust!
All applicants have been invited to the hustings on Tuesday 1st November 20.00 to give a short (~2-minute) speech and all applicants will be available to answer questions on the night.
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.

LGBT Officer

The LGBT Officer is responsible for representing and furthering the needs of LGBT students, whilst also providing help in a similar manner to the Welfare Officers. They try to involve LGBT students in College and organise events aimed at LGBT students. Contact the current LGBT Officer, Aleix, for more information (dcsa_lgbt@darwin.cam.ac.uk).


Sports Officer (1 position)

There are two Sports Officers who 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 re-titled 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. For more information contact the current Sports Officer, James (dcsa_sports@darwin.cam.ac.uk).

The online election was be set up by the DCSA Secretary and the Returning Officer (the Bursar) verified the results.
Two motions were received: 
Motion I: Preservation of the Photography Darkroom
Proposer: Karoliina Pulkkinen (kjp41)
Seconder: Valentina Ausserladscheider (va284)
The Darwin Photography Society (PhotoSoc) is a group of students focused on documenting life at Darwin and in Cambridge. The darkroom, which occupies a tiny room in the Old Granary, is the primary medium for this and, hence, it stands as the society's main asset. In fact, the society boasts this space as the only photography darkroom in the entire University.
In the last few years, the darkroom has served also as a space to support PhotoSoc's diversifying interests. At present, it stores securely an expensive telescope, tripods, and a video camera in addition to print paper, photo filters and lenses. The darkroom has also supported meetings and discussions for organising exhibitions, the most recent of which (on Immigration in Europe held in the coffee parlour) was received widely by college members and fellows.
The recent plans for the refurbishment of the Old Granary propose replacing the darkroom with an en-suite bathroom. When the drawings were presented to the student community last spring, the documents did not explicitly state in writing that such plans were intended for the darkroom. In my opinion, we did not consent to this choice, as the college did not ensure that we understood that this was their plan. They did not email or contact the president or the treasurer of the society to explain their intentions.
In fact, documents suggest that the decision regarding the fate of the space was not made until the 6th of October, when the buildings and grounds meeting happened. The PhotoSoc or DCSA president was not contacted to discuss the matter on this occasion.
Apart from just raising a motion to protect the darkroom, I also propose that whenever the college and the relevant committees are planning to refurbish spaces that are used by the student societies, they ought to contact presidents and treasurers via email or phone directly. The college ought not to make assumptions on the frequency of the usage of the rooms, but check this with the student community.
I emphasise that the darkroom is essential for the survival of our society and it matters a great deal, not just for the few of us at present but for generations of upcoming students interested in archiving life at Darwin. On behalf of the members of the PhotoSoc, I request kindly for the darkroom not to be replaced as part of the upcoming Old Granary renovation.
Motion II: Reducing the cost of rent for short-term room contracts
Proposer: Emile Marin (eam65)
Seconder: Hannah Jongsma (hej33)
Short-term room contracts for students, which are defined by the college as less than 26 weeks, often incur an additional cost of £21/week. We feel the college should abolish this, especially since students who take on a short-term lease often do it because they have nowhere to live. Students are normally already financially constrained and with the additional rent charges and costs involved with moving, it can be a very difficult time for some students. The additional charges also have an impact on students in the late stages of their PhD who are often unfunded and need extra support.
The College states the extra money is for cleaning and maintaining the room when people leave. However, in the case of a room change, a flat charge of £30 is levied. The argument, therefore, does not seem to hold up, as a room vacated when someone moves to another room does not require more cleaning or maintenance than someone in the room for a short period of time. This additional rent charge is seen as a revenue stream for college and it is not fair that students are charged more money than necessary because college knows students in need of accommodation will pay it.
We instead propose students who move out early (before 26 weeks) or stay less than 26 weeks pay the flat-fee of £30 instead, the equivalent of the room-change fee. Guests and non-students could continue being charged according to the current system.

The DCSA Executive Committee has recommended amendments to the DCSA Schedule and Regulations. The Constitution sets out rules for how the DCSA functions: this includes the powers and duties of its officers as well as how it deals with DCSA clubs and societies. The DCSA’s recommended changes are relatively minor and include changing the title of one of the Executive Committee positions - from Sports Officers to Sports and Societies Officers, and the role description to reflect overseeing societies that are not sports. These changes were approved for a second time by the executive Committee with the necessary two-third majority on 28/06/2016.  

These changes will come into action when there is no objection to any approved changes at the General Meeting and by College Council.

Please find the complete proposed changes here.

The 2016-2017 DCSA budget was discussed and can be seen here when finalised. 
If you have any questions about the GM, motions, or elections please email the DCSA President, Elaine (dcsa_president @darwin.cam.ac.uk), or the DCSA Secretary, Thea (dcsa_secretary  @darwin.cam.ac.uk).
Approved minutes from the Easter Term GM 2016 and draft minutes from the Michaelmas Term GM 2016 can be found here.
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