Complaints have been made that work on Langwith bar has been causing noise disruptions during lectures throughout term.
The problem has primarily affected lectures in L/N/028, where the bulk of first-year English lectures take place. Both students and lecturers have complained about the disturbances.
Dr John Roe, English lecturer and member of Langwith College Council, claimed that “the work is very disruptive” and that there is “no justification for disturbing teaching in this way.” He believes that the fault in this instance lies with the Directorate of Facilities Management.
Jane Grenville, University Pro-Vice Chancellor for Students, admitted that the scheduling of the works was a contentious issue, but that she “did consult the timetabling office about the possibilities of mitigating disruption.” She recognised the process as a “balancing act”, where students’ interests in getting the bar open as quickly as possible have to be acknowledged.
The Langwith bar project has been a source of considerable contention for the past year, with the Students’ Union originally wanting to open the bar in October to coincide with the arrival of new first year students, but a major asbestos presence delayed these plans.
Commercial Services suggested an opening in October 2009, but Grenville claims that there were “compelling reasons” on YUSU’s part not to go with this idea. There followed a period of considerable student unrest, with student-led demonstrations outside Heslington Hall demanding an October 2008 opening. As a result of this action previous concerns about lecture disturbance were ignored and a January opening was agreed upon.
Langwith Provost Dr John Issitt said he expressed his reservations about the timing of the construction before work on project began: “If the project was to go ahead I would have much preferred the work to be delayed until it could be conducted out of term time.”
The majority of first-year English lectures take place in L/N/028, meaning that most English lectures have suffered from disruption. Catherine Froggett, a first-year English student, commenting on the disruption of Dr John Roe’s lecture on November 4, said that “it was difficult to hear clearly at times, especially for people sitting at the back”; she also pointed out that “the noise was quite distracting and might have prevented people from concentrating.” Rosie Fletcher, another first-year English student, agreed that the situation is “really frustrating.”
Matt Burton, YUSU Services and Finance Officer, responded by highlighting that there is a system in place for reporting and dealing with noise issues during the construction period.
Although YUSU has received no complaints, Burton has contacted the Project Manager and the Site Manager to discuss “what elements of the current building works could be causing noise to travel into the lecture theatre and disrupt any lectures.”
As a result, some work has been identified which will only take place before 9.15am, to minimise any possible noise disturbance.
Despite the procedures in place to minimise disruption, the bar’s construction seems to have caused difficulties for Langwith College as a whole: “We have ended up with much less social space for a new intake of students – which combined with no 24 hour portering has left us with weakened provision,” said Issitt.