Welfare in week five
Today marks the start of week five of Lent Term.
Week five in Cambridge is characterised by the arrival of the blues. Essay deadlines are piling up, and the combinations of late nights and early mornings start taking their toll. Courtney Landers, the current Welfare Officer for the Graduate Parlour, explains her role in making Pembroke a supportive home for our students:
‘The role of the graduate welfare officer is threefold – to be an easily accessible and friendly source of information about welfare matters, to represent the interests of graduates at college meetings involving welfare issues, and to organise events that foster a warm, safe and healthy environment in the Graduate Parlour (GP).
‘So far in my term the majority of my time has gone towards organising welfare events and supporting other GP members in organising their own events. We have a weekly knitting-and-Netflix evening, a fortnightly movie night, and various events and bar nights where I make sure that non-alcoholic options are provided. Plus, every Sunday afternoon I run ‘tea and cake’. This is arguably my favourite event as I get to sit and chat to people who I may not see around college often but who are enticed into the GP from their labs, desks and far-off residences by the promise of free cake. This term I helped the LGBTQ+ officer initiate a ‘Great Pembroke Bake-Off’ where GP members bring in home-baked cakes, two per week, in a competition that should run all term and into the next! So far we’ve had some incredibly tasty entries and huge attendance by GP members – we’re definitely going to recommend that next year’s officers run the event again.
‘I also spend a lot of time just having a chat. I was already a pretty active member of the GP, but I have noticed that people are even more eager to talk to me than before! I think that knowing that my ‘job’ is to listen and help means the people around me feel like they can share issues and know that they will be listened to and empathised with. It’s a privilege to be trusted in that way.
‘Representing the interests of our graduates to college has been an interesting and informative experience. Cambridge and its colleges work completely differently to any other institution I’ve been to, and having the chance to see how it all works has been fascinating. I know some people find the unique nature of college administration frustrating, but on the whole I’ve had a positive experience. Should I ever get to come back to Cambridge after my PhD I’m more inclined now than before to become involved as a Fellow.’