Disagreements regarding funding of social space have arisen between the Halifax College Student Association (HCSA) and the University.
The Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) has approved an application from Halifax College for £20,000 to remove the bar and stage in JJ’s, as well as to replace the lighting and front door.
However, Lydia Blundell, Halifax President, has claimed that if this money had been made available a few years ago, JJ’s would still be open as a bar.
Currently, JJ’s is used as a common room for Halifax students after closing down as a bar in 2008. Since then, the space has been heavily funded to encourage its use.
Last year JJ’s was given Sky television by the Vice Chancellor, as well as a big screen projector. The HCSA also bought an Xbox and Wii for the common room, followed by a table tennis table by this year’s committee.
More significantly, during the summer last year, JJ’s had new windows fitted in what was described as a “conservatory extension” in order to tackle the lack of natural light in the area.
After consultations with Jane Grenville, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Students, the alumni fund granted Halifax another £20,000 to install the windows.
Blundell clarified her position on the situation: “I’m not annoyed – I’m grateful that they’ve given us this money. But I just wonder why this money wasn’t available when JJ’s [as a bar] was struggling. It’s a shame we didn’t have that support when we really needed it.”
Blundell continued to say that it was “good” that the University was still willing to support JJ’s, but that it was “annoying” that this money wasn’t available before.
She continued: “Especially with cuts around the rest of the University, it’s strange how all this money is suddenly available. I’m glad that we’re being supported, but [without the money] JJ’s is now just a deserted bar which people don’t want to use unless they have a specific reason.”
Susie Fothergill, Fundraising Programmes Manager of DORA, explained how the funding is allocated: “This year the grant was given to alter the internal facilities and improving the only social space in the College in order to aid student interaction and create a larger area for broader use by students. This is what the College identified as their priority.”
She continued to explain why they couldn’t support JJ’s as a bar: “Projects that are funded are usually one off improvements or equipment purchases. The fund doesn’t give consecutive years funding, and as it is a completely separate entity it wouldn’t underwrite ongoing costs or commercial outlets, such as JJ’s.”
David Sharp, Halifax President in 2008, disagreed with the current Halifax President’s views on JJ’s. He told Nouse: “Once JJ’s shut down as a bar, there was an instant improvement. It could suddenly be used as an actual social space by all students all the time.”
The HCSA now plans to make the area look less like a deserted bar and more like a welcoming social space. Blundell hopes that by changing the front doors from their currently heavy style, the area will look less like a nightclub.
This newly improved social space will add to the already communal barbeque areas in each of Halifax’s courts. The refurbishment is due to take place during the Easter break and finish in the first weeks of the Summer term.