University kitchens crisis escalates

The University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Felicity Riddy, has apologised to students for inadequate kitchen facilities after a campaign by York University Students’ Union (YUSU) to improve facilities.

Students have criticised the University for unequal and limited kitchen facilities across campus. Despite the completion of renovation work to Goodricke A block, on October 30, around 300 students are still without proper cooking facilities in Derwent, Goodricke, Langwith and Vanburgh colleges.

In a letter posted in the affected kitchens , Professor Riddy admitted a failure of communication and apologised “very sincerely on behalf of the University”.

Rich Croker, YUSU President, said “after extensive lobbying and discussions by YUSU to the University there are plans in place to improve cooking facilities in Derwent C&D, Langwith A, Vanbrugh A&B, Goodricke B blocks. There is also a commitment [from the University] to provide compensation to students living in the blocks listed above”.

Currently however parts of Derwent college see 18 students attempting to self-cater with only two microwaves and a toaster. Students of Derwent B block have also complained that basic facilities such as dining tables and chair haven’t been provided . Laura Latridou, a B block resident said “we have to sit on someone’s floor and eat, its not very hygienic”.

Other students have expressed concerns about how not being able to cook their food properly will affect their health. “Because of my special dietary requirements, I find cooking in a microwave very restrictive” said Tom Seal, a member of Derwent College.

Students in Derwent, Langwith and Vanburgh colleges have expressed anger at unequal facilities between colleges, where facilities in colleges such as Alcuin and James dwarf those of Derwent and Langwith. “Its not fair that we pay the same amount as people in James” said Jill Smith, of Derwent B Block. Student anger has also led to creation of an online campaign group with 146 members and a petition has been circulated.

YUSU however has consistently campaigned for equal rent across campus to counter the creation of a two-tier accomodation system, between richer and poorer students.

Matt Burton, Goodricke College Chair, has welcome the completion of building work on Goodricke A Block. “They are a massive improvement on the level of faciltities we had last year” whilst Hetal Pandit, an A Block resident, said “it was definitely worth waiting for”.

During the construction period students were given free meal vouchers as a compensation for the temporary lack of facilities. However, some students were dissatisfied with this offer. Rob Goodyer, Goodricke A Block, said that he couldn’t have breakfast before early morning lectures as the canteens only began serving at nine o’clock. “We want compensation” said Goodyer.

A recent addition has also been made to the University Catering Service’s brand new ‘Mad’ scheme, with the introduction of ‘Mini Mad’.

The new addition will mean that students who don’t wish to eat breakfast and dinner on-campus seven days a week can now eat only dinner for an approximate saving of 12%.

Health implications of using Microwaveable Ovens:

Lack of varied diet

Options for microwavable food are limited, mainly to ready meals, meaning students are prevented from ensuring a balanced and varied diet.

Problems cooking meat

It is strongly recommended by health & safety officials that meat is not prepared in a microwave. Red meats in particular cook in a pool of fat.

Dietary needs ignored

Students with special dietary requirements such as vegans or those with food allergies are now even more restricted by most microwavable foods

Fattening diet

Microwave foods encourage snacking and the eating of high-fat content foods leading to increased obesity and sever

By Milda Sabunaite and Hannah O’Shea

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