The ivory towers of Heslington Hall

Bunker-mentality from officials stuck in Heslington Hall.

Gazing out of my Derwent room towards Heslington Hall I often wonder what goes on inside that red-bricked castle, sheltered from most of campus by sculpted bushes and tinkling sprinklers. I see suited staff shuffling in and out carrying piles of papers and files, but I have never been through the doors myself. It is ironic that most students never enter the ‘face of York’, plastered shamelessly across each prospectus conning 18 year-olds countrywide they won’t be stuck in a concrete jungle for the next 3 years of their lives. The closest most of us get is a trip onto the walkway roof to recover a Frisbee or shoes that mysteriously ended up there the night before. So do the people that work inside really live in a different world and is the anonymous senior member of academic staff right in accusing them of being “out of touch” with the realities of student life?

Vice Chancellor Brian Cantor’s remarks denying that the Heslington East Developments are having any negative effects on the university appear to say so. It doesn’t take five minutes walking around campus to realise that some areas are suffering due to a lack of funds. The bridges are a classic example, which still remain closed after a ridiculous number of weeks. If money wasn’t being poured elsewhere then it is obvious that we could see these problems rectified sooner.

The bridges aren’t the only area feeling the strain. The library has also faced several funding cuts. Not waiting four days for books is more vital still to attaining our degrees than a few shortcuts across the lake. Therefore surely it is not completely outrageous to expect a university, that boasts itself as one the top ten establishments in the country, to have a library with 24/7 access?

The University’s press officer David Garner is quoted to have said that “there is no question of Hes. West being starved of resources simply because Hes. East is on the go.” The campus isn’t being starved but it has clearly been put on a diet. Developments of the new Teaching and Language Centre near Vanbrugh continue to give us at least some sign that our campus is not being left to completely crumble whilst dreams of the lush new complex consume every inch of Heslington Hall.

The Heslington East project is set to cost £500 million. Think how much better our current campus would be if it had £500 million to play with. We could gold plate Central Hall and buy pirate ships to carry us across the lake, never mind fix the dodgy bridges!

I am not saying that I am opposed to the developments at all. It is undeniable that our campus has reached its concrete footprint level in this area and that if we are going to keep up with other universities in the country and considerably develop research facilities then an extension site in necessary. But it is self-evident that Cantor and his cronies have to get real and face up to the fact that in assuring York a better campus for the future compromises are now in fact being made at “Hes. West”. It makes you wonder what else they fail to see from their ivory towers.

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