In a statement released this evening, the Chairs of Derwent and James, and President of Alcuin, have revealed that the University has proposed changes to the College Receptions, including closing on the weekend.
The other proposed measures are for the receptions to close at 11pm during weekdays, with the implementation of a mobile service with an unknown response time during out-of-hours.
In their statement to students, the College Chairs said: “We are now publicly requesting that the university withdraw this proposal to allow for proper student consultation on the future of your college receptions”.
“Whilst we are sympathetic for the need for financial sustainability within university services, there are other areas in which cuts could be made which don’t affect student well-being”.
There was also mention of a lack of consultation with college committees or students, with the statement revealing: “At no point during the planning process was meaningful consultation with other service users (students) attempted…When we attempted to initiate a consultation of our own, we were told to keep the matter confidential until the changes are confirmed”.
In a comment to Vision, the chairs said: “We are speaking out because we are looking out for our Student’s welfare. Receptions offer more than just picking up a key-card and parcels, they offer a point of contact, are a mental health and safety support network”.
“During a global pandemic and a mental-health crisis, it is essential to maintain or even improve the current welfare support available. We are sympathetic to the need for financial sustainability in university services, but this can surely be done in a way which does not compromise student safety and experience in such a major way”.
The Chairs told Vision that Colleges are usually consulted on matters relating to students: “In the past the university has made every effort to consult student representatives when making major changes, with college chairs securing a new COVID testing centre on campus east, and streamlining communications to students”.
“We find it disappointing that the university has now made the decision to plan such major changes to reception services without consulting ourselves or the actual service users – students”.
A University of York spokesperson said: “College Receptions are here to help students, assist with day-to-day queries and manage mail collection in some areas. We’re updating the service to offer the best service possible and be more responsive to student needs; providing greater flexibility whilst continuing to assist with welfare needs.
“No college receptions will be closing. A new mobile response team, with at least 6-8 night-time mobile personnel, will provide overnight support where needed and respond to calls for assistance and security concerns, going to the student rather than the student having to find assistance.
“We will still have at least 35 University Reception team members across all seven reception points in college areas between 7am and 11pm. Four receptions will incorporate the new mobile night-time and weekend support between 11pm and 7am, and three receptions will operate 24 hours a day, all seven days a week.”
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