Pack up and leave: International students under assault at Downing
It’s an international incident.
Downing College has announced plans to scrap its storage facilities for international students.
Should the plan go ahead, international students at Downing College will be left with no place within the college to leave their personal belongings outside of term time and will be forced to either hire private storage space or transport all of their possessions home with them at significant personal expense.
Following a meeting of the Downing College JCR, a petition has been started by Onkar Singh demanding that Downing’s Senior Tutor cease all plans to close the international storage facility. The petition refers to the closure as “a huge injustice for the international student body at Downing who make up a large percentage and pay much higher rates for accommodation, college bills and tuition fees”.
Singh calls for Downing to be “an equal and supportive environment for all students, regardless of their nationality or background” and believes that the closure of international storage will “problematise matters” within the college. At the time of writing, the petition has 252 signatures.
This is not the first time colleges have caused controversy by interfering with international storage, King’s being the most prominent offender. Nevertheless many students have been left furious at the college’s decision. Downing international student, Dhruv Duggal stated that “it will be very problematic for international students and I think it’s misleading because when applying to Downing, the college website says that there is international storage available”.
In addition to this, the storage facilities seem to have been dismal in the first place. Duggal continued: “The storage room is already really bad. It’s in a cellar down a flight of stairs so it’s very hard to take luggage down and it’s very poorly lit and messy.”
Other international students commenting on the online petition have expressed similar feelings. One student commented that she “would consider [the] college non-friendly for international students if the storage is cancelled” and another said that “closing down this capacity shows a lack of consideration towards this sector of the college population which undoubtedly contributes both to the academic excellence and the diversity of the institution”.
When asked for comment, the Downing College Senior Tutor has admitted that “there have been concerns over many years about both security of access and the safety of the items stored (for example flooding and rodent infestation have been problems)”. He says that there will be a “discussion” on Monday night at the College General purposes committee where “all options” will be considered regarding the storage situation. He believes the JCR intend to present the result of a “public poll” which expresses solidarity with the users of the storage facility.
Here’s hoping Downing come to their senses before Whose University? get involved again.