Following a £2m investment in the student experience, the University has put in place night-time staffing in colleges without 24 hour porters for the start of this term.
However, YUSU have continued to state that this welfare and security provision is not good enough and that there have already been instances of an “over-stretched” portering service.
Goodricke, Langwith and Vanbrugh colleges don’t have porters available 24 hours each day, but will now have nine facilities reception assistants spread throughout the three colleges.
These night-time staff members are made up of students as well as external applicants and they have had two six hour induction sessions, according to Jane Grenville, Deputy-Vice-Chancellor.
But Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer, has warned that these are not adequate replacements for the 24 hour porter service that is available in other colleges.
“Some of the colleges, most notably Goodricke, have some night-time staffing provision, but with the movement of Langwith to Heslington East this year, and no noticeable comparative increase in staff, we have already seen issues of the portering service being over-stretched, resulting in students having a poor level of service, particularly upsetting to students as their first experience of college and University life.”
The issue of 24 hour portering has often been the cause of student wrath against the University. In 2010 there was an unsuccessful campaign to re-instate 24 hour portering in all colleges following its dissolution due to financial tightening by the University.
Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, said “this issue was always going to resurrect itself as a problem”, and predicted, “it’ll come back onto agenda bigger than before”.
“It’s YUSU policy that we believe each college should have 24 hour porters throughout the year. This is not going to change anytime soon, particularly with fees changing. A top class university should have this provision as a base feature. Our porters provide a fantastic and vital welfare service which has seen cuts in hours and, as a result, a dilution of purpose.”
Even though the University promised night-time staffing in all eight colleges in their package to improve the student experience, there have been concerns that the staff who take the place of porters in some colleges will not have had the same level of experience or training.
Hughes added: “Students working overnight, or any student worried about their safety at this time will be considerably affected. I strongly feel that 24-hour portering in all colleges, rather than night-time staff who don’t serve the same functions, or receive the same training as porters, is essential for ensuring that students’ general and security needs are met sufficiently, and this is something we will continue to lobby the University for.”
A University spokesperson commented, “there will be night-time staffing in all eight colleges during term-time. Staff have already been recruited and trained.”