I write this sitting in my new house in Tang Hall. I say “new”, but what I really mean is “new for me”. It has been inhabited by many students in the past, all of whom seem to have left behind various reminders of their presence. Our bike shed is full to bursting with old George Foreman grills and other rubbish, my wardrobe is covered in dust and we had to spend hours last night cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom before it became even vaguely inhabitable. So it is with a twinge of jealousy that I see all these freshers traipsing into new Goodricke, blissfully unaware of the horrors they’ve avoided.
I’ve had a gander at some pictures of their nice shiny new rooms, and it wasn’t just the slight feeling of voyeurism that made me come away from the experience with a sense of unease. Having dwelled in Halifax last year with their precarious camp beds which were prone to collapsing and occasional suspicions of mould in the shower, it does all strike me as rather unfair. Despite the rather odd shade of pink used to adorn the outside of one of the new buildings.
But it isn’t just freshers who will be residing in the shiny newness. They will have to share their lovely new accommodation with several cranes, a couple of diggers and a multitude of builders. Not exactly the new flatmates one would normally expect. And perhaps even messier than those who used to live in my house.
As Law are still consigned to their portakabins in a car park somewhere near Alcuin, work will be going on for the next year to give them a hospitable base, and once this is done, who knows what inspiration will strike the bods of Hes Hall next? Perhaps the freshers should embrace all the first year clichés for making friends (bring tea! Keep your door open and let in any old random stranger!) and use them on the builders; they’ll probably be here longer than any of us.
It’s hardly ideal to be living on what is essentially the world’s most modern building site, although the drilling and banging about at 8am might make getting up for 9.15s a little easier. And the likelihood of some drunk fresher stumbling into a patch of wet cement and getting stuck is amusingly high. But joking aside, despite the free bus service running between the campuses, it’ll be hard to shake the feeling of being slightly adrift from the centre of things.
But perhaps this is what we signed up to when making the choice to come to York? Its burgeoning reputation has outgrown the small and run-down campus. A horribly expensive expansion was somewhat inevitable and was always going to take longer than the fleeting three years that most of us will spend here. If the Hes East expansion can increase student numbers and provide better facilities, and academic standards can be maintained, then York’s reputation can only get better. We, as the students here and now, will be the beneficiaries if York can get its act together and make the most of the opportunities this expansion provides. A bit of noise and inconvenience seems like a small price to pay for a better degree that will take you places in the future.
Yes, a Ziggy’s hangover is terrible enough without an actual building site adding to the metaphorical one inside your head. But put up with it. It’ll be worth it eventually.