The University has this week confirmed rumours that Langwith College will be moving to the new Heslington East campus.
University Press Officer, David Garner, has said that Langwith would be the second college on Heslington East.
“We are close to completing a design brief and a business plan is in preparation” Garner explained. “The target date for opening is October 2012. We are looking at a range of options to fund this project.”
The move has sparked positive feedback from many, some of which are tired of the notoriously drab and outdated Langwith accommodation. Ex-Chair of Langwith College, Sam Asfahari, who is currently sitting on the University committee involved in planning the details of the move, commented: “It’s about time we move. I don’t think many Langwith students would disagree that current Langwith accommodation is long over due an update.”
However, many have voiced worries that like the students of Goodricke, who made the move to Heslington East at the start of this academic year, Langwith College would become isolated.
Asfahani admitted to Nouse that when Goodricke College moved to Heslington East, it was still very much a building site which he noted made things difficult. However, he says that the path for Langwith will be smoother as “the buildings will effectively be finished by then.”
“YUSU will continue to scrutinise the design, build and progress of the new college.” President Tim Ngwena
The strong likelihood of an ‘off-balance sheet’ funding of the new college, whereby a third-party organisation is sold the land upon which to build and manage the college, in the same way that Alcuin is owned by University Partnerships Project (UPP), has left some people apprehensive.
YUSU President, Tim Ngwena, who is currently working with the University on the move, responded to this concern. “I believe better communication with the student body on the detail of the proposed relocation of Langwith will help settle many concerns that current and future students may or will have. Whichever funding model the University choose to procure the building, YUSU will continue to scrutinise the design, build and progress of the new college, ensuring that student’s interests and the social demographic and character of the college are not threatened.”
In addition to this, the news that Langwith is to soon become catered, similar to Derwent College has also sparked debate. Derwent is due to become catered from October 2010.
Jason Rose, YUSU Campaigns Officer, summed up concern that the circumstances of the change have not been made clear by the University and that this transformation would attract only a certain ‘type’ of person to Langwith.
“Regardless of whether the deal may be a good one, the University has failed to effectively communicate the change. My concern is that the move may detrimentally affect the demographic of the colleges,” Rose explained.
Conor Wilcox, Langwith College Chair, expressed his reservations: “A concern is that there will be a certain ‘type’ of Langwith student, rather than the variety currently residing in Langwith, a development which does not allow students to socialise with people with whom they would not ordinarily share the same environment.”
He also made the point that the kitchen environment is “where Langwith students feel most comfortable getting to know their peers.
“There is a concern that catered accommodation will hinder this opportunity.”
Like many others, Wilcox also noted the University’s apparent propensity to implement changes in the JCRC handover period: “I am disappointed in the timing of this decision, given that it exploits a potentially vulnerable handover period between college chairs.”