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‘Gandhian-style’ peaceful protest at Cambridge University enters 3rd week

Vareesh Pratap has been on dry fasting for over two weeks

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A student union leader at Cambridge University is into his third week of dry fasting to protest at what he describes as “the killing of democracy within the university”. Vareesh Pratap is president (post graduate) and major union officer and is part of a student led movement to fix what they see as a broken and unfair system within the university.

Pratap has spotlighted several severe issues in an open letter to the Vice Chancellor after exhausting, what he claims, are “other avenues”.

Pratap has been on dry fasting for over two weeks and submitted over 200 supplementary questions with his open letter to the chair of the university council, “urging them to fulfil their obligatory duties as outlined in the Education Act of 1994 at the soonest”.

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Since he began a group students have signed a petition calling for an Extraordinary Student Members’ Meeting (ESMM), surpassing the required 200 signatures threshold.

Vareesh Pratap is president (post graduate) and major union officer and is part of a student led movement to fix what they see as a broken and unfair system within the university.

Vareesh Pratap is president (post graduate) and major union officer and is part of a student led movement to fix what they see as a broken and unfair system within the university.

“This achievement was particularly challenging given the widespread disillusionment with the Cambridge SU, evidenced by low engagement in student council meetings and the resignation of sabbatical officers halfway through their terms with a half of them have already left,” says Pratap.

“The annual Student Members’ Meeting was postponed due to failing to meet a quorum of 100 people, with the rescheduled meeting drawing merely 10 attendees, including full-time sabbatical officers and other volunteer office bearers.”

He claims his open letter exposes “several and severe irregularities within the Cambridge SU, including the denial of effective representation, violating the Education Act in both spirit and letter.

“It also indicated about repeated failures to adhere to constitutional provisions, such as equal representation for undergraduates and postgraduates, as evidenced in the recent student trustees’ election.

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Vareesh Pratap is president (post graduate) and major union officer and is part of a student led movement to fix what they see as a broken and unfair system within the university.

Vareesh Pratap is president (post graduate) and major union officer and is part of a student led movement to fix what they see as a broken and unfair system within the university.

“Additionally, the letter hints targeted harassment of elected officers from marginalized identities, including people of colour and women”.

Other claims centre around funding, staffing and an attitude he claims that fosters nepotism.

He describes his dry fasting campaign as a “Gandhian-style peaceful protest”

Timo Hromadka, the lead petitioner, said: “Our overarching goal is to foster an environment for each and every student to thrive and to feel supported, safe, and equal.

“We want to challenge the status quo and establish a reliable system for all of us to navigate the complex collegiate university administration.

“While the University of Cambridge maintains rigorous academic standards, it is essential that students do not feel disadvantaged, discriminated against, or unduly stressed during their time here”.

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