Girton College JCR has a complicated relationship with the Cambridge University Students’ Union. The JCR is affiliated to CUSU: this means that pays an affiliation fee to gain access to CUSU services for the JCR (as a Students’ Union), which is approximately £3,000 per year. This does not mean that the JCR is formally part of CUSU or subservient to it, but instead chooses to engage with CUSU. CUSU and the JCR are two separate Student Unions, with an overlapping membership (akin to the NUS being the national undergraduate body).
The JCR is granted two votes at CUSU Council, CUSU’s strategy making body. Each affiliated college JCR is allocated 2 votes, each MCR is allocated one vote (unless the college is a postgrad/mature college). The minutes of CUSU Council can be found here. This Council directs CUSU’s resources and policy.
How this affects you
This structure (of the JCR, CUSU and the NUS all being separate SUs) means that if a JCR disaffiliated from CUSU, the JCR loses the ability to direct policy, but all undergraduates at that College would remain members of CUSU.
This is why Gonville and Caius College SUs have disaffiliated, but their members still get full access to CUSU services. This is due to a failing of the CUSU Funding Model (affiliation fees are paid by JCRs and MCRs, rather than from College’s per student affiliated), but there have been attempts to change this.
CUSU’s affiliation to the NUS is what enables them to sell NUS Extra Cards. The JCR is not affiliated with the NUS, but has an informal agreement to assist in delivering them to students at Girton. It is possible to be a member of the NUS without CUSU being affiliated.