Plans for the creation of a ninth college at York are underway. The new accommodation blocks will become the third college on Heslington East and will house up to 650 students, with work due to be completed by October 2014.
The plans are due to be debated and potentially passed at University Council this week.
The proposals have already seen some opposition, with YUSU president Kallum Taylor claiming he had “strong reservations” about the move.
Taylor told Vision: “It’ll be unacceptable to build another 650 rooms, take all the rent from students, and continue to drag our heels in addressing Hes East’s needs.
“We need guarantees of decent student services and infrastructure to make the campus feel a more homely, yet vibrant place to live, study and work.
“We’re talking the bare necessities; decent lighting, clear signage and security as well as bolder items such as some cutting edge, multi-purpose and attractive social, retail and catered provisions. Our students shouldn’t have to plan when they’re going to buy a pint of milk and cross that dual carriage way – it’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Taylor also cited concerns about whether the extra accommodation was even necessary, given the national trend in falling application numbers.
“We took a small, but no doubt costly, hit this year in terms of intake, and the near future’s looking unpredictable. Combining this with the additional private sector accommodation competition off campus, a lot of reassurances need giving.
“We hope our stance is now on the University’s radar and they take our concerns, as well as our ideas, very seriously.”
However, York Registrar David Duncan has insisted that the University is doing everything to uphold their obligations to the residents already on Hes East.
“Heslington East already has a cafe serving hot meals in the evening, three food outlets, a bar, a free bus service, a gym, a swimming pool, all-weather football pitches, common rooms, study space and a book drop-off point.
“By early next term we will have a retail outlet and, at last, an ATM on Heslington East. We are in discussion with YUSU about what additional facilities would be helpful. These are not dependent on building college 9 – we will continue to develop the facilities for the students and staff who live and work on Heslington East.”
Despite these assurances, it seems feelings on the continued emphasis on Hes East are mixed.
Second year student, Rosie Litterick told Vision: “I have never once been over to Heslington East, and I don’t really think there is a sense of unity over there. I don’t think we are ready for a ninth college away from the central campus and would prefer the money to be spent elsewhere.”
History of Art student Rose Basista stated: “It feels like a post apocalyptic wasteland over there. Until that changes, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live in Heslington East no matter how snazzy it is.”