Minutes of the Termly General Meeting: Lent 2020-21

The Termly General Meeting was held on Wednesday 16 June at 7:30pm BST. The meeting was held virtually on Zoom.

Apologies

  • Committee members not in attendance: Talay (Green), Vimisha (Publicity and Communications), Osarenkhoe (EDI), Youzheng (EDI), Andrea (Bar Secretary), Bethany (First Year Rep), Angela (Ale and Quail) and Michael (Ale and Quail).

Confirmation of minutes from the previous meeting

Link to minutes from the previous meeting: http://mcr.chu.cam.ac.uk/minutes-of-the-termly-general-meeting-michaelmas-2020-2/?fbclid=IwAR2KuRiFGDXpSwESp0ZnIOONdDukQF1k2Mt7AaAynqx7nXRULgVA55YOLqM

  • The present members approved the minutes from the previous TGM.

Matters arising from the minutes

  • There were no matters arising from the minutes.

Committee Reports and Questions to the Committee

President (Samuel Turner)

  • The College announced that there would be a Postgraduate Special Dinner on July 8. Sam (President) has had no input on the event and did not know more about the format of the questions. Action Point: Sam will email College to ask for more information on who exactly can attend the event, if groups will have to sit in households and the format of the event.
  • There was a survey of the student body around the formal toast (i.e. the toast to Sir Winston and to the Queen). The split of the vote was roughly ⅓ in favour of change, ⅓ indifferent and ⅓ against change. This student opinion was presented to the EDI committee. We are now awaiting a vote of the Fellowship. The consensus from the EDI Committee is that there will be some adjustment. The Sir Winston Toast will be dropped from all formal halls, apart from the Founders Feast.
  • Students are not currently allowed to sit on the seating area near the bar. It is reserved for Møller Centre guests, despite decreased trade. Action Point: Sam will email College to enquire about this.
  • MCR members are unclear if you are allowed to sit with people outside your household for formals. Action Point: Sam will investigate this.
  • Freshers events: Sam received several questions about freshers, and when events were going to start being organised. Sam said that we would start thinking about events after term had ended. Éva suggested getting everyone together for a brainstorming event, where every member has to volunteer an idea. Action: Sam will organise a brainstorming session after term has ended.

General Secretary (Rebecca Heath)

  • Murder Mystery Formal: Rebecca has spoken to Tamsin (Bursar), David (Catering Manager) and Professor Sir Mike Gregory (SCR President) about a summer murder mystery event. The event has been approved for the summer. Provisional dates are the 9th July, 23rd July, 6th August and 20th August. We decided that the 23rd of July was the best date. An email will be sent around to the student body once the details have been confirmed. The provisional theme for the event is James Bond.
  • Other events: Rebecca enquired about a Thorpe Park trip. It would cost £600 to hire a bus to take 50 people to and from Thorpe Park. The tickets for the park cost around £35 each. It was decided that the event was too expensive. Rebecca talked to Churchill musicians about a jazz night event. Unfortunately, it is not possible to run such an event, due to the 30-person limit, before the undergraduate students leave. This event has been postponed until Freshers week. Samin (Internal Social Sec) was keen to run the event in Freshers week. Samin has been in contact with a jazz band.
  • Gazette: In the last committee meeting, Rebecca asked committee members to email her information about events for inclusion in the gazette. Éva (Academic Officer) recommended using a Google form to submit event information. Éva said that it could be used to record relevant information, i.e. disabled access and whether the event was family friend. Action point: Rebecca will look into setting up a Google form. 

Treasurer (Michaela Taylor-Williams)

  • The MCR finances are in good standing. The MCR’s allocation has been approved, pending a few people who were not at the Finance Meeting. The MCR got the same amount of money as last year.
  • Elre (Welfare) asked if the MCR were going to continue running yoga over the summer. Michaela confirmed that the MCR could continue to fund yoga over the summer.
  • July 4th Party: Michaela is planning a July 4th pizza night. There will be sign-ups to make the event COVID-compliant. If there are more than 30 sign-ups, groups will be split between separate locations in College (i.e. Chapel, outdoor bar). Action Point: Michaela will send an email in the next few days.

Academic (Éva Bernadett Benyei)

  • The last CHUtalk of term will be held tomorrow (Wednesday 16 June). Éva asked all members present to attend the CHUtalk.
  • Networking event: Éva is planning to run a networking event. The event will be held outside in line with instructions. Members will be given topics to discuss and some ice-breaking activities. Action point: Éva will email about the networking event closer to the time.

Bar (Conor Williams)

  • The MCR bar has been given permission to open.
  • Conor has cleaned the bar. We now have 4 COVID compliant seating areas. The seating areas sit between 4 and 6 people. 
  • Conor has located 50 bottles of bubbly, which had been lost. The bottles were bought for the Guest Night that was cancelled. Action Point: The bottles of bubbly will be moved to the new MCR outdoor storage.
  • State of the stock: Conor has thrown away most of the little things that went out of date. All of the spirits are fine. There is remaining out of date stock, which includes: 20 bottles of coke, 20 bottles of lemonade, 20 bottles of tonic water and 8 containers of orange juice. Conor will throw out all of this (non-alcoholic) stock tomorrow. The MCR Bar has a fridge full of beer. The beer is past its best before state. Conor has looked into the legality of selling such stock. We can legally sell it, and according to most sources, the taste does not deteriorate for 2 years. It was decided that this remaining stock should be discounted, with students informed that it had passed its best before date. The MCR Bar is going to provisionally apply a 50% discount to this stock. Action Point: Email David Oakley about the plans for the MCR Bar and to confirm the legality of the beer plan. Email David Oakley about training for bar staff.

Computing (No Officer)

Green (Not Present)

  • Compost bin: Audray (Families Rep) has asked about the compost bin. The compost bin is located near the Shephard flats.

Equipment (James Miller)

  • Conor mentioned that there was a lot of rubbish in the MCR storage cupboards, for example nerf guns, odd shoes. It appeared as if the MCR cupboards were being used for “lost and found”. Éva stated that it would be good to do an inventory, which included the quality of each item.  Action Point: James will do an inventory of all the stock in the cupboards and throw away any rubbish. The inventory stock will be updated on the MCR website.
  • Ivan asked if the MCR had tennis rackets. There are no tennis rackets in the MCR storage cupboard. Action Point: Ivan will order some more tennis racquets for the MCR.
  • The MCR has a new outdoor storage location (which replaces the MCR shed). It was mentioned that there was another storage location on a staircase. Action point: James will look in this work when surveying the equipment and move all equipment to the MCR Room or the new storage space.

External Social Secretary (Richard Bowen)

  • Richard helped to run the BBQ. There was very positive feedback on the event. The Committee thanked Richard and Samin for running the event.
  • Richard discussed organising a general formal. Action Point: Send an email to College about a general MCR formal.

Internal Social Secretary (Samin Moghimiasl)

  • Samin wants to organise some events in the summer. She cannot commit to large events, due to time constraints.
  • Samin discussed hiring a jazz band for a jazz night. Samin discussed selling tickets for the event to cover the alcohol. Audray (Families) mentioned that we cannot get everyone to subsidise the alcohol, as some people do not drink. Samin discussed the possibility of food vans. Rebecca mentioned that such an event would take months to organise. Action Point: Samin will think about whether such an event is feasible and will contact the MCR Exec with plans.

Family Representative (Audray Harkins)

  • Audray organised a story time, which went really well. Audray commented that it was mainly families living in College that attend the events.
  • Audray is planning to organise some more small events over summer. 
  • Audray is planning a yoga event on Sunday, however it looks like the event will have to be moved back owing to the awful weather. 
  • Audray is organising an event for the kids, where they go and pick blackberries and make some jam.
  • Freshers week events: Audray is considered running a village fete for freshers week. People will be asked for a donation and will have access to games, activities and (possibly) live music. Audray noted that she would need help organising the event.

Men’s Welfare (Ivan Harkins)

  • Ivan is running a social sport scheme over the summer. MCR members can play sports, such as tennis and football. Ivan welcomed ideas from MCR members. Ideas: rambling, football, sports day (i.e. egg and spoon race). 
  • Sexual health products: The men’s welfare officer should have a range of sexual health products, including condoms, lube and pregnancy test. Sam (President) currently has the supplies in his room. Action point: Sam will give Ivan the existing supplies. The MCR gets products from CUSU. Rebecca asked if CUSU offered moon cups or if the MCR had considered providing them. Rebecca asked if the College provided sanitary products in all of the toilets on Campus. Action point: The welfare team will inquire about whether CUSU offers moon cups. Ivan will contact College about providing sanitary products in the toilets.

Women’s Welfare (Elre Oldewage)

  • Yoga is going well. It is still very nice out on the field. We might have to work out an alternative venue for this week, when it is going to be rainy. Hopefully, we will be able to use the chapel. Shelley has said that there are no other locations available.
  • The botanical garden picnic went well. The event was within budget. One family turned out for the event. Elre commented that it might be good to advertise to families more directly and make it more clear that they are welcome. We had good turnout from people with partners. Éva suggested labelling the events family friendly. Action Point: Rebecca will incorporate this into the Google form.
  • Summer rowing will be happening over the summer. This event has been included in the gazette.
  • Anonymous pigeon hole: Elre mentioned that the MCR now has a pigeon hole in the Porters. This can be used to leave sexual health products in, so that people can remain anonymous. 

LGBTQ+ Officer (Jack Hughes)

  • Jack has been running some LGBTQ+ events, including a picnic and games night. 
  • Jack has been working with the JCR to create content for the new College website. 
  • Jack is planning to review the welfare information on the MCR website. Action point: The welfare team needs to update the welfare information on the MCR website.
  • Jack is reaching out to other Colleges to create a bigger LGBTQ+ group. Jack is considering running a walk to Grantchester event in the summer.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officers (Not present)

Disability Access (No officer)

First Year Representative (Not present)

Publicity and Communications (Not present)

Matters for discussion

Rent letter

  • Proposal: Samuel Turner (MCR President) has submitted a proposal to formalise the role of the Senior Postgraduate Tutor and MCR Officers in the rent-setting process. The proposal ensures that both the College and MCR Executive must sign-off on rents for the following academic year. The full proposal is included in Appendix A.
  • First proposer: Samuel Turner (MCR President)
  • Second proposer: Rebecca Heath (MCR Secretary)
  • The proposal will be voted on in the TGM. The proposal will pass with a simple majority vote.
  • For: 13
  • Against: 0
  • Abstain: 0

Comments from anonymous MCR students

  • We did not have access to college facilities for most of the year and therefore, it would have been ideal that our rent was reduced.”
    • Audray brought a similar issue to the last College Council. Audray asked if students could receive refunds for a lack of housekeeping services. The College Council rejected Audray’s proposal.
    • Éva asked about hardship funding. Ivan mentioned that he had chatted to College about hardship funding earlier in the year. The College has made changes, including in response time and in the tone of emails.
    • Relating to hardship funding, Audray asked about this quote from the College newsletter: “the College launched a COVID-19 contingency plan to students facing hardship, raising £400,000”. Audray asked where did the money go and what percentage went to student bursaries and financial support. Action Point: Sam will ask about the COVID-19 contingency fund and will also ask about the percentage of hardship funding that goes to postgraduate students.
  • “Maintenance issues took too long to be solved during lockdown.”
      • Members raised other related maintenance issues:
        • Maintenance delays have been widely reported. A family in the maisonettes had to wait five months to get the bath fixed (which was leaking into the downstairs kitchen). In the meantime, the family was told not to use the bathroom, despite it being the only bathroom in the house. One student had problems with mould in their room. The student reported the mould. The issue had not been solved after three months and the student was forced to move room.
        • Maintenance staff can turn up at any time unannounced. 
        • Students are not told when cleaning staff will be in the house. This is problematic, because students are not supposed to use the communal areas when cleaners are present (COVID-19 regulations).
  • Boyd / Wallace / 36c: A resident of the Boyd flats mentioned that there were persistent heating problems in the new builds. The resident has not had heating in the back bedroom, and the heating in the front room has not turned off, since they moved into the flat in September 2020. The resident had been informed there were “contractual” problems surrounding the new builds. Rebecca noted that there had been problems with heating and water in the new builds since September 2019. Action Point: Sam will raise this with College immediately.
      • Conor mentioned that there should be a better maintenance ticketing system, so that residents can see the progress of jobs.
    • Action Point: Sam will ask if people can have notice of when the maintenance staff and housekeeping staff will turn up. Sam will chase the College up regarding long waiting times.
  • “Cleaning products for the common areas were not constantly provided by the college this year.”
    • Éva mentioned that you can email housekeeping to get more supplies, such as washing up liquid and emails.
    • Residents of the maisonettes and flats asked if they were entitled to bin bags and housekeeping supplies. This is not clear. Action Point: Sam will email College to ask about whether flats and maisonettes can get access to cleaning supplies.
  • “When we first moved in, we were supposed to get a flat manual. We never got one.”
    • College manuals are being inconsistently provided. Some postgraduate houses, including Pinchin Riley, have handbooks in each rooms. These handbooks say where the washing machines are located, as well as general information about the College and residence. Some of the information in the guides is old. Action Point: Sam will email College about providing these handbooks in every accommodation.
  • “The waste separation system is complex and it could be more clear. It would be ideal that the college adds signs to the bins located outside of accommodation clarifying what type of waste goes in each bin, as well as to encourage students to really separate their waste.”
    • There should be a plastic sheet on top of the dustbin. Some households have the information on the corkboard in the kitchen. Action Point: Sam will raise this with College, when discussing the handbooks.
  • “The food hall is automatically serving food in disposable containers, therefore we are generating a lot of solid waste. It would be ideal that the college encourages students either to bring their own containers or asks people if they want to have food on a plate.” 
    • Audray said that the College does not allow you to use your own tupperware. Action Point: Rebecca will advertise this in the gazette.
  • “It would be ideal to have more vegan/ vegetarian food options in the buttery; the sandwiches are not so good, yet no so cheap. The options and quality of the food from the food hall could be improved. It would be ideal to have more variety, more options of having salads and fresh vegetables, soups, and desserts. An online food ordering system could be established so that they can estimate how much food to prepare and avoid waste.”
    • Action Point: Sam will feed this back to the College.
  • “When someone makes a purchase of something from college, the student receives an email that notifies the amount that they have to pay. Other colleges offer students the option of checking their accounts immediately on an online website. This makes finance-tracking easier. It would be ideal to have a similar system in college.”
    • The MCR Committee has raised this with the College. The College is currently investigating an app system, but it is expected that it will take one to two years to implement this.
  • “It would be ideal that college lets us know when new people are moving into our households.”
    • Action Point: Sam will investigate whether this is feasible.

Any other discussion

Feedback on MCR events:

  • Simon suggested sporty type events in the evening, for example evening.
  • Audray said that forms could be more clear, for example people did not know if the BBQ form was asking for the total number of people attending or the number of guests.
  • Éva said that the MCR could do with a general form. Action Point: Éva will create a form for use by the MCR Committee.

Appendix A: Rent Proposal