150 Hes East Students are being forced to relocate as University carries out ‘essential maintenance work’.
In an email sent Thursday 7 May, Campus East Accomodation services emailed tenants in Langwith, Constantine, and Goodricke to inform them that “fire safety work”, including the removal of ceilings in corridors and hallways, “must” take place within the coming weeks.
It is as yet unclear what will happen to those who cannot get to their rooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hes East has a high proportion of international students, but individuals who are self isolating have been told to contact the Student Services team.
The University will facilitate the removal of students’ possessions into another block on Campus East for one month, after which they will be asked to move back to their original room. The Accommodations Service has not yet responded to our question about how they plan to practice social distancing measures while moving students.
Any individual downgrading from their current accommodation will be given a reduction in rent, but no compensation policy is mentioned.
The email was sent the day before a national bank holiday, during which the Accommodation team have programmed an automated response saying that they will be out of the office till the May 11th.
While the work to be carried out has been deemed “essential”, it has been stressed that “students were safely occupying” the University accommodation.
Stephen Stanley, Chair of Goodricke College is critical of this unprecedented move from the Accommodation Services:
“The new proposals for the movement of students on Campus East is a cause for concern. Whilst I appreciate that this work needs to be carried out, I’m sure that notification well in advance would’ve been beneficial, as well as perhaps consulting with students of interest to see how this would affect them. I hope that all other options have been exhausted before choosing such an avenue, and ask the University to reconsider the timing of such works if there are still other potential options to be explored.”
This is echoed by an international Goodricke student who wished to remain anonymous:
“It definitely has changed my perception of the Uni as it seems like an inappropriate decision to make given the current circumstance and it most definitely feels as though they are taking advantage of those of us remaining as they know we are the ones unable to travel home for a variety of reasons.”
Developing this, she talks of the struggle faced of “readjusting to a new situation, which would only add to my anxieties and fears which surround the current situation”, not having the available resources to physically move her possessions, and belief that “the University is clearly dividing the wellbeing of the students with the desire to pursue its own interests”.
Brian Terry, Constantine College resident and incoming Activities Officer, is organizing students to protest:
“My friends and I, who are currently living on campus, were outraged by Accommodation’s email. We drafted a response to Accommodation and decided to ask others if they would also send it. Nearly all the students we asked were in favour of replying to Accommodation stating their displeasure with the proposed movement of students.
A global pandemic is currently occurring. We feel incredibly strongly it is unsafe and further an undue stress on students to make them move rooms during this time. Some students living on campus are taking exams yet are being expected to effectively pack up their lives and move for an entire month. Even without the exams, it can’t be understated we’re living through a global pandemic – it’s incredibly unfeeling of Accommodation to be moving students during this time given the stress we’re all feeling.”
At time of writing, The University Accomodation Services had not yet responded to multiple requests for comment. New details and comment from the DECS can be found here.