The University has come under pressure from YUSU and College Chairs to confirm when the planned Social and Catering Building for Heslington East will be built.
Langwith College is scheduled to move to the new campus by October 2012; but the University has said that there is no date set for the building of the social hub. The building would provide vital services such as catering facilities, a cashpoint and space for events.
Jane Grenville, the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Students, has said: “The Social and Catering Building is quite a complex project and it’s not possible to complete it for the beginning of the academic year in October 2012 when Langwith move over to Heslington East.”
Many Goodricke students have raised concerns this year over the limited amenities and services currently available on the second campus. When Langwith relocate, this will increase the number of students living in the Heslington East campus to over 1,300.
The building was initially scheduled to be ready in September 2011; but the University will not now confirm a date, saying, “at present the timing of the Social and Catering Building has yet to be fixed.”
Cem Turhan, Langwith JCRC Chair, submitted a motion at the UGM last week to mandate YUSU Officers to support this building, supported by all of the College Chairs and YUSU Officers.
“Profitability comes before student satisfaction with the University at the moment“
Langwith JCR Chair
Turhan questioned the University’s priorities on this issue, saying: “Obviously it’s a hard thing to do, but profitability comes before student satisfaction with the University at the moment.
“It’s a lot of work for the University for little profit – but it benefits the students. Students pay for the experience, not just their degree and currently the University is saying that they are not interested in this.”
Nacho Hernando, Goodricke JCRC Chair bemoaned the University for its “negligence,” stating: “They have the money but they say there isn’t enough demand. If you want one of the blocks to be catered, you need a catering building.”
The building will be a dedicated socialising and dining space for students, with the University’s planning agents for the building, called it, “the future hub of social activity for the campus.”
Fears have been raised that the level of services for students on Heslington East will be inadequate for the dramatic increase in student numbers there from 2012 and that the Social and Catering Building is needed to help the student experience on the new campus.
Grenville stated that the University was aware of the concerns and they were discussing different solutions to the problem – including the Social and Catering Building.
“We are looking at the number of services that are available to students on Heslington East and the Social and Catering Building is just one part of this.”
Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, called the delay “unfortunate” but insisted “the situation is now moving faster given the campaigning and lobby from colleges and students on the issues.”
He continued “I’m aware of an alternative that has been voiced to both Langwith and Goodricke but it seems there’s a sticking point over identity. At this stage I urge all representatives to work together and compromise if it means the outcome for students is better than what it is at present. No facilities as outlined until what looks to be till 2013 or later.”
Turhan continued commenting that if he was applying for accommodation from 2012 and there was no Social and Catering Building, “I wouldn’t go, I would think to myself that it is good accommodation but there is no soul and not enough facilities.”
A spokesman for the University added: “Because of the uncertainties in future University funding the University has been cautious in the starting of new capital projects. The relative merits of each project has to be taken into account before we can prioritise the release of the limited available funding.”