A Choice To Look, Life in Cambridge Revealed
‘A Choice to Look’ is a short film produced by Varsity’s Joe Cook and Abdullah Shah. This powerful film highlights issues faced by Cambridge residents brought about by the growing divide between ‘Town and Gown’. The effects are far more profound than mere lifestyle, there is a difference of 10 years in life expectancy between the rich and poor living in Cambridge. Residents and independent businesses cannot afford the high (and rising) rents demanded by the universities who own most of the land. The landscape is changing, and we can’t blame it all on Amazon.
Inequality of Opportunity
Waseem Yaqoob, Branch Secretary, Cambride University College Union Lecturer, describes May balls as ‘grotesque signifiers of the inequality of opportunity that exists in our society and in Cambridge’. He is right. The university is driving property prices higher than is achievable by all except the elite. While one in ten residents of Cambridge earn less than £150 per week, the average rent is £303 per week. Local food banks have seen a 50% increase in food given out since 2015.
It’s A Question of Choice
David Runciman, Head of Department of Politics and International Studies, refers to the ‘blind spots’ of things we don’t recognise and don’t see, admitting, ‘We are not as smart as we think we are’. Julian Huppert, Director of Intellectual Forum at Jesus College, Cambridge tell us, ‘there are lots of things the university CAN do’. Yet thus far, in the main, they choose not to. Instead of focusing on developing relationships with huge organisations overseas purely for their own benefit, the universities could choose to look closer to home and improve the lives of those on their doorstep, in some cases, quite literally on their doorstep.
I’ll give the last word to Phil Allmendinger, ‘There has to be growth for everybody, not just for the university’.