Heslington East; the punchline of many a joke among students of the University of York. Throughout first year, I was met with my peers’ disbelief when I explained I lived in Goodricke college despite all my studies being based on Hes West: “How could you do that to yourself?” If the ridiculing of its residents is anything to go by, Hes East can’t quite shake its image as being boring, inconvenient, and secluded from the wider University community. And, while I did appreciate the modern facilities, sometimes I couldn’t help but question my choice of college. However, popular student opinion of Hes East is set to transform as the University has revealed further plans for vast expansion.
The University describes itself as being in the midst of a period of “unprecedented expansion and renewal”; nowhere is this more evident than Hes East. The impressive £25m Piazza Learning Centre is set to open in Spring 2018 and promises new classroom space and a 350seat restaurant. Much to the delight of Hes East residents, last month it was announced that the current retail development will result in a Nisa, Greggs, Subway, Papa Johns, and more. These outlets will not only inject life into the campus, but will overcome what are considered the inconveniences of Hes East. Interestingly, this site will also include a new doctors’ practice and pharmacy, set to replace the current surgery on Hes West. Future plans include relocating the Sociology Department to Hes East, which is currently the home of TFTV, Law and Management, and Computer Science. The University hopes to build two new colleges, providing approximately 1200 beds: essential considering the current crisis with York’s student accommodation.
So, what does this expansion mean for the University? Seemingly, the developments on Hes East are fundamental in creating a livelier environment for its students and achieving a better balance between the two campuses. While the founding spirit of the University is evident across Hes West, aspects of the campus are undeniably outdated; the new facilities will only help the University when compared to other institutions. Nevertheless, Hes West
residents shouldn’t feel that they are being forgotten about. The University community has long revolved around Hes West, from the iconic, highly questionable architecture of Central Hall, to student favourite Courtyard; I predict it will take more than a few shops for students to replace these traditions.
Moreover, the University has made it clear that its “unprecedented expansion and renewal” extends to Hes West as they continuously outline plans to modernise and renovate its facilities. The expansion of Hes East isn’t an attempt to replace Hes West, but rather to enrich the experience of all York students.