Race, class and culture are the three main themes of docuseries Cam Uncut, which is led by Gonville & Caius College students Tirza Sey (Law 2021) and Oliver Gottlieb (MML 2022) and St John’s student Annissa La Touche (St John’s, Geography 2021).
The trio are keen to show the interwoven and diverse experiences of University of Cambridge students, giving the students an opportunity to share their stories.
“One of the important aspects of the docuseries is to provide a platform for people to be able to speak and voice their experiences, good and bad,” Tirza says.
“It’s to show there is no singular experience. It’s about promoting tolerance and understanding – a force for good,” Oliver adds.
Annissa adds: “There’s quite a lot of intersection between them. Although those are overarching themes, there’s a lot of things that are more miscellaneous.
“It’s about getting a holistic sense of Cambridge University and what it is, centring on the experiences of the people featured.”
When Tirza, pictured centre, shared her idea through social media and group chats, she recruited Oliver and Annissa, pictured right and left, respectively, for what is now a project with three figureheads. The plan is to broadcast the first episodes towards the end of Michaelmas term or in the Christmas vacation.
The goal is not to expose the ‘wrongs’ of Cambridge, but instead to show how differently people’s experience of day-to-day life at the University can be based on race, class and culture. Other topics being considered within the docuseries include the search for academic validation, gender expression and identity, and competitiveness within societies, for example with leadership.
Annissa says: “What makes some people feel so at home in certain spaces and others not? Cambridge is modernising and evolving. For example, John’s has made a lot of effort towards a more diverse intake. But tradition is definitely an attraction point for applicants.
“What does that balance look like? Why are people attracted to certain colleges in the first place?”
The anticipated audience is current Cambridge students, but the series will also provide an insight for prospective students and alumni. It is likely to be a “time capsule” – a snapshot of Cambridge.
Tirza reflected on her own experience in sharing the idea. During her first year at Caius, which began in October 2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic lingered, she spoke about loneliness for Mental Health Awareness Week, highlighting the issue and opening the conversation.
She has also learned through her time at Cambridge how experiences can be both singular and shared, with life experience contributing to her own understanding.
“In first year especially I struggled a lot, but I think it was exacerbated by the fact that I felt like I was alone,” she adds.
“I learned others had similar issues. I feel like we all go through it but we don’t say anything. I realised it's not like a singular experience. I can see things more rationally and be able to articulate it better now I’m in third year.
“I wanted to showcase Cambridge in its truest light. It’s a great place academically and it can be socially. I wanted all sides of it to be shown.”
Annissa adds: “I related a lot to Tirza’s experience and there’s such a power in sharing experiences, because you realise others are going through it. Also empowering each other through shared experience, and not accepting isolation is important. It’s cathartic seeing yourself reflected.”