Riverside Halls JCR pass motion of No Confidence in UoB ResiLife

The motion was passed unanimously

Riverside Halls JCR today passed a unanimous motion of no confidence in the Bristol University ResiLife service that took over control of halls of residence in September 2018.

They claim that ResiLife withheld £20,000 worth of funding included in the cost of halls, and claim that Bristol is “in violation of their responsibilities…as laid out in the Riverside JCR constitution.”

This follows the 2019 Mental Health Survey where ResiLife ranked as the worst face-to-face student service, and the revelation that every staff member proposing the move to ResLife, except for 2, no longer work in student life roles at the University.

Image may contain: Performer, Crowd, Text, Banner, Person, People, Human

A former Senior Resident speaking against the move to the ResiLife system in February 2018

In a statement, Riverside JCR said they “have been consistently let down by the non-provision of contracted funds amounting to around £20,000.”

They also accuse the university of having “bureaucratic and unclear administrative procedures and a lack of vital and efficient communication between the University, Resi-Life, Student Union and JCRs.”

According to the JCR Constitution, section 7, “the University will transfer the social fees into the JCR account in two payments of 50% and 50% on the 1st November date and the 1st February date. The amount will be calculated by multiplying the social fee by the number of student residents.”

They say they attempted to resolve the various issues, but say that “time and time again Resi-Life, the Students Union and the University made promises and gave deadlines that were repeatedly not met.”

“We would further like to encourage that other University of Bristol JCR Committees who have had issues with Resi-Life this year make their grievances known in a similar way.”

Many of the original proponents of the scheme at an open meeting, where there was fierce opposition

In the 2017/18 academic year, the University proposed moving from a Warden-based pastoral system to a village based system, which was opposed by students and staff across the University.

A referendum held by Bristol SU at the time resulted in 92.1 per cent of voting students opposing the move to the ResiLife system.

The University pushed ahead in spite of this opposition, but many question the wisdom of having done so. Multiple sources within JCR Committees and within ResiLife itself across the university say that there is deep discontent within the system.

The 2019 Mental Health Survey revealed that only 35 per cent of students found ResiLife advisers ‘very helpful’, and 37 per cent found other senior residents ‘helpful’.

In 2018, before the move to the ResiLife system, 51 per cent of students surveyed described staff at university halls of residence as ‘extremely helpful’.

Additionally, a Bristol Tab investigation has revealed that all but 2 of the original proponents of the ResiLife system no longer work in roles relating to student life at Bristol University. With sources revealing Mark Ames, Director of Student Services, is set to leave shortly, only Judith Squires, Deputy VC, will remain.

In response, a University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We recognise that there have been delays in releasing funds for some JCRs this year and the Residential Life Team has been working with JCRs and Bristol Students’ Union to try and resolve this.

“This is a result of a number of issues including some initial delays in setting up some JCR bank accounts and finalising the amounts payable to some JCRs with the University’s Finance Department. Some activities were paid for by the Residential Life Team while waiting for bank accounts to be set up and these amounts needed to be agreed before payments could be made. All outstanding payments will be transferred to JCRs as soon as possible.

“We are committed to improving the current financial model to ensure student lead activities in residences can be more easily organised as these will be key to the student experience next year. We will be arranging meetings to discuss how the current issues can be resolved over the next few weeks and would like to apologise for any inconvenience this has caused. The JCRs and Students’ Union will be fully involved in these discussions.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• ‘We are here to fight for black lives’: Thousands gather for Bristol Black Lives Matter protest

• Police say tearing down Colston statue was an ‘act of criminal damage’

Anonymous Bristol Uni students are calling out racism on campus in new Insta page