Students in Fairfax House, Vanbrugh College, are petitioning the University for a partial refund as a result of the substandard accommodation they believe they have received.
The petition requests that the University refunds them the difference from the next cheapest rent band.
So far over 90 students have signed the petition, including much of the Vanbrugh JCRC; and the petition is being organised principally by first-year Fairfax House residents.
One first-year Social Policy and Social Work student, and one of the implementers of the petition commented: “We feel it is totally unfair to be paying what we are, and to be living in this situation.”
Kallum Taylor, Vanbrugh JCRC Chair, has made his support for the petition clear: “All students living on campus should make sure, at no end, that they get value for money.”
He also praised the students’ determination and campaign: “I think it’s a credit to them that they’re drawing a line to being treated with contempt once their rent has been processed.”
Fairfax House is currently rent band 2B, meaning students living there pay just over £96 a week. In comparison, students in Vanbrugh Eric Milner pay under £85 weekly.
However, the University has defended this price difference through the different types of accommodation offered; pointing out Fairfax students receive breakfast in their college.
But most Fairfax residents rarely attend breakfast and Flora Juster, a first-year Fairfax resident, said: “People only really go if they have lectures or if they are already up. Other than that no-one really goes.”
“We feel it is totally unfair to be paying what we are and to be living in this situation”
Fairfax House resident
Fairfax students have complained previously about their accommodation. The kitchens, that are used by 15 students, are too small to contain even a table for students.
In addition, one of the kitchens is adjacent to the toilets, which is a health and safety violation. Fairfax residents have access to only two washing machines, for the entire house, one of which is consistently broken. Furthermore, mould was discovered growing in one of the showers along with an infestation of woodlice.
In the most serious breach of health and safety, a student was trapped in his room during a fire drill. This was on account of a faulty door, which he had previously reported to the University, but about which nothing had been done.
During the Christmas term a student had his room broken in to and the theft of his laptop, camera and other expensive electric equipment. This prompted a call for the installation of CCTV, as can be found on campus, however, this request was vetoed due to expense.
In light of these complaints most Fairfax residents feel their petition has a strong case for compensation. Residents have been helped by David Efird, Vanbrugh Provost, who has been assisting them in a strictly advisory capacity.
A spokesman for the University commented: “The University has received only one compensation claim in relation to this issue.
“We shall follow the agreed procedure for dealing with compensation claims and investigate them fully. It would be inappropriate to make any further comment until the conclusion of this process.”