Derwent residents have no right to complain

Campus residents do have some right to be angry. £136.29 a week is not cheap for the residents of Derwent’s D-block (where renovations took place). Moreover, the accommodation they actually received didn’t meet the standards that the website suggested.

On the Halifax College website, the grand “artists impressions” of modern rooms and spacious kitchens shown were no doubt persuasive to many prospective students. I can sympathise to some extent. Everyone despises those episodes where they feel they’ve been misled and are paying over the odds for something they thought was going to be better. However, the renovations – at least in Derwent – have tried to focus on its advertised “sociability”. The installed larger kitchens with sofas and dining tables are a far better place for social dinner parties and just convening with friends. These are good intentions and certainly worthy of some praise.

“University halls are never going to match up to much-loved home comforts”

First years will be wondering why the renovations were only completed just before the start of the academic year? I suspect it’s due to the sheer scale of the job that had to be done. One D-block resident revealed to me that walking from D-block into the connected C-block “is like walking into a third world country!”

This gives some idea of the extent of the building work. The quality of facilities in D-block is far greater than that other Derwent blocks. I’m in Derwent B-block. The over-head cistern of my nearest lavatory spits toilet water at your face every time you have the decency to flush it.

Whilst it sounds patronising to say it, freshers critical of the renovations expect too much. Our living standards at home may have skewed the way we perceive our accommodation, as generically grim, but let’s be honest, it’s the same throughout the country, university halls are never going to match up to much-loved home comforts. Whilst it’s annoying for students to have had some frustrating experiences, first year is just what it says on the tin. Only a year.

People in far worse circumstances than ours must put up with greater problems for considerably longer out there in the real world.
There’s a more important lesson to be learned here. A survey conducted by YUSU in May discovered that only 65 per cent of Derwent residents were satisfied with their accommodation. Perhaps the timing of the survey and renovations indicate that the University is really trying to respond to dissatisfied students. The recent battle won – by YUSU – to have the library open 24-hours is further evidence of this.

In the end, accommodation should not be our primary concern. The primary purpose of a university is to educate its students.

One comment

  1. 8 Nov ’11 at 12:33 pm

    Outraged Student

    While I agree with your point that university is primarily about education, I do not think it fair that you claim freshers have no right to complain about their accommodation, or that you target D-Block freshers in particular.

    As a former D-Blocker myself I can tell you that last year we had among the cheapest accommodation on campus, whereas now it is some of the most expensive. This increase in price then surely must be justified by some measure of improvement? Of course student accommodation is not going to measure up to the standard of living most are used to at home; that’s part of what being a student is about.

    But this does not mean students should simply have to put up with whatever the university gives them; as a Nouse reporter yourself, you must agree with holding the university to account? I spent much of Fresher’s Fortnight in D-Block and I do not think it is in any way correct or fair of you to say freshers ‘expect too much’ if they are unhappy that pipes in the walls of the downstairs toilets are oozing soapy water up from the floors and soaking the carpet in the corridor outside. Or that one of the showers filled up with water from the toilets when they were flushed.

    These are not examples of students asking for more with their accommodation, but simply that things which are not working as they should be fixed. The cistern you mentioned in your block is a case in point; this is not something students just have to put up with for a year, it is something which is broken and I hope you reported it to the porters so they could have it mended.

    There is, in conlcusion, a significant difference between students demanding a higher quality of accommodation/ complaining about the current one, and expecting renovations, no matter how lengthy and grand in scale, to be completed to a basic standard without water leaking all over the place.

    I urge you to consider and realise this point before targeting your fellow freshers again, lest you end the year a social outcast.