The University’s accommodation website section opens with a tactical and questionable statement for prospective students: “opportunities for students to live in University accommodation…are better at York than at most other universities.”
Looking beyond the deliberately vague nature of this statement, it is possible to reduce it to a simple comparison of two negative outcomes; essentially describing York’s dismal accommodation as the lesser of two evils. This is not only unappealing, but could also become untrue as the University’s flippant attitude towards accommodation maintenance is setting York’s buildings on a spiral into disrepair.
In a time when prospective students are flocking to York for open days, talks, and accommodation viewings, it is essential that the University presents itself well. In order to attract next year’s students struggling with tuition fees, York needs to offer quality degree programmes, lecturers, and accommodation.
Instead, the University is opting to cover up its negligence by averting prying eyes towards the Heslington East campus. I recently received an email offering me money if I agreed to open up my room for an afternoon, but upon closer inspection I discovered that the opportunity was only available to me if I lived on Heslington East.
We should be offering a fair picture of all accommodation to those coming to view York, not just sending visitors to a shiny Heslington East penthouse. But if prospective students were allowed into other colleges, they’d perhaps suffer a sub-zero Derwent cell, an asbestos infused Vanbrugh biohazard tent, or even the latest Eric-Milner water park.
If the University succeeds in painting a false but perfect picture for new students, many will be in for an unexpected horrendous first year of living away from home.
With the latest stories of outraged students being forced from their rooms due to leaks in the Eric-Milner blocks, it’s time the University repaired the damage done and also started paying for regular maintenance as it is legally obligated. As one irritated porter succinctly put it: “It’s bloody ridiculous; they only spend money on it when something goes wrong.”
The repercussions of this flippancy will be costly, as the University is forced to spend greater and greater sums of money.
If the angry petition-signing students of the Eric-Milner blocks were the first, then I would not judge so harshly, but they are not. The list of problems with University accommodation is growing in size and severity; the University needs to lift its attention from polishing the Heslington East expansion and focus more attention on the main campus, before it’s too late.
We need to decide upon the future of the main campus. The University need to realise that letting it slide into disrepair is not an option. The older the buildings get, the greater the cost of repairs will be until the bills become insurmountable, resulting in abandonment.
With more time and money, campus accommodation would be a far more comfortable environment, and the University wouldn’t be forced to lie about its facilities and present a warped picture to prospective students.