Piazza Building opens as YUSU sabbatical officers solve societies’ campus storage crisis

Image credit: University of York, artist’s rendering

The University is converting a room in the newly-opened Piazza Building on Campus East with the aim of creating storage space for students. This comes after a YUSU sabbatical officer-led campaign to get more room for societies, sports teams and students after it had not been planned prior to construction.

The five sabbatical officers dressed as elves on 13 December and proceeded to take a comically large, two-metre-tall Christmas card to Heslington Hall with the purpose of telling the University that it was unacceptable for the lack of student storage to continue in lieu of a formal petition.

Nouse have been informed that the storage situation on campus had become so dire that there had been dilemmas regarding ratifying new societies due to the lack of available space for keeping items or for operating activities. The card, containing the message “All we want for Christmas is flat floor and storage space”, was signed by over 100 people, including student chairs, societies and sports teams, and members of staff from both YUSU and the University.

The issue affected a wide range of people across both campuses. The building, which opened to students on 8 January, contains seminar rooms and labs, a 350-seat lecture theatre, a restaurant and various work spaces for students including study booths, box seats and a silent ‘library’ area on the top floor of the building.

However, the University did not go far enough originally to cater to the needs of all students. While the facilities would only originally provide venues to reduce hunger pangs (with burritos and Sunday roasts served at the restaurant) or those stereotypical student caffeine cravings in the form of Starbucks, the Piazza Building will now contain what has jokingly been referred to as the “Piazza box”.

The room was originally in-tended to be used as an examination location, but will now be refurbished so that there will be some room for storage space. It is located on the ground floor of the Piazza building. A second year Theatre, Film and Television student told Nouse, “The piazza building will hopefully help to alleviate Campus East’s ghost town reputation and make it slightly more of a destination. It’s only been open a few weeks and it’s already packed all the time, yet there are no fewer people than usual in the Ron Cooke Hub, meaning it must be attracting more people to Hes East already. The afternoon menu in the restaurant however is better than the lunchtime menu in my opinion.”

Alex Urquhart, YUSU President, was happy to talk about the success of the sabbs’ initiative: “The issue of storage space, specifically for student activity, is currently being addressed. As a result of our campaign last year, the university have agreed to install more storage space into the large flat floor room on the ground floor – to enable more student-led activity to operate in the building.”He did, however, express concerns regarding University processes. “There is a wider issue on how storage space for students is considered in the early stages of development. I am currently working with the University’s Estates department to ensure that students’ needs are a priority from day one.”