Student Blog

LGBT+ at Downing

In a second post for Discover Downing, HSPS student Ali talks about their experience as president of CUSU LGBT, and the support for Downing LGBT+ students. CUSU, the Cambridge University Students Union, represents students across all the 31 colleges in Cambridge. In addition, the JCR (Junior Common Room) committe at Downing is able to provide further support for Downing undergraduates. 

The Downing College LGBT+ Officers can be reached at,  should you have any questions. 

The feature images comes from , an article about pride month in Cambridge

Hi! I’m Ali, a third-year HSPSer at Downing. I’m the current President of CUSU LGBT+, Cambridge University’s Student Union’s LGBT+ Liberation Campaign. I’m the co-leader of the campaign along with the chair and I am personally responsible for overseeing the campaign’s overall trajectory. I also take care of external affairs, especially liaising with other organisations, including student societies, CUSU, the press, and both local and national organisations.

The CUSU LGBT+ campaign is the centre of both social and activist LGBT+ life in Cambridge, both facilitating campaigns and running social events. ‘Why Gender-Neutral?’ is the committee’s current campaign which is working to make life in Cambridge better for trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals, whilst educating on the importance of gender-neutral spaces for everyone. We’re doing this by focusing on three main areas: gender-neutral toilets, gender-neutral dress codes, and gender-neutral administration (e.g. how easy it is for trans students to change their name). Campaigns in recent years have also included a Welfare Campaigns in Easter Term and the Make No Assumptions Campaign, a campaign working to educate people on trans and non-binary identities.

The committee also holds plenty of events. In Lent Term of 2018, we had over seventy events on our termcard, ranging from bar socials, to discussion groups, to academic talks, to welfare events, to career meetings with our sponsor organisations. Whatever your taste in events, we hold it! Getting involved in our events is super easy, as is joining the committee in either Michaelmas or Lent.

Downing itself has a thriving LGBT+ scene. One of the LGBT+ reps on the JCR (the internal undergraduate student union of the college, the Junior Combination Room) is currently the Communications Officer on CUSU LGBT+ and they are both highly involved both within and outside of college. We are currently working with college to institute more gender-neutral toilets. The community within college holds film screenings, weekly evening social gatherings (before the LGBT+ club night, though many people don’t go out or drink during these gatherings), and bi-weekly afternoon LGBTea and Cakes (as good as it sounds!). Downing LGBT+ has often organised groups to go together to university-wide events and local community events, such as Queers in Shorts, the community queer short film monthly event.

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Ali Hyde

Hey! I'm Ali and I'm a 2nd year HSPSer (Human, Social, and Political Sciences) at Downing. I went to a Quaker school in Yorkshire and studied English Lit, Music and Religious Studies at A-level. In my free time, I play the clarinet and saxophone, sing, bird watch and am involved in student politics.