Queens’ College BANS trying to live near friends in brutal ballot shakeup
Students argue the college is repeatedly ignoring student concerns over the new arrangements.
A few weeks ago, it is claimed, a cadre of Queens’ fellows banded together and took it upon themselves to reorganise the entirety of undergraduate accommodation at Queens’.
The appointed committee decided that undergraduates living with their friends, or knowing where their friends might be living was having a “negative” impact on student welfare.
Consequently, it was decided on behalf of Queens’ students that balloting in groups, or attempting to confer with friends as to living arrangements via a public ballot would be banned.
Fellows voiced their concerns over the formation of “ghettos” in certain buildings or staircases, and ostensible “bullying” taking place regarding one’s position in the ballot.
The college said: “The overriding objectives of these changes are to ensure that no student feels coerced in respect of room choice, to increase choice for all students, and to prevent problems that arise from clusters of students who have a detrimental effect on others.”
Attempting to remove any “coercion,” from the balloting process, the college then levelled a series of threats towards any students attempting to organise living arrangements with their friends, stating that “any attempt to publicise generally, or create a map of how individuals are making choices will result in those responsible being removed from the room ballot altogether”.
These measures were taken despite consistent, serious protest from the undergraduate body.
In a survey issued by the JCR committee, 84% of respondents stated that “living with their friends had a positive impact on their lives”, whilst numerous undergraduate testimonials were given to the fellows, raising concerns directly relating to the welfare implications of the new system.
Grievances over the practicality of the new system aside, some students speaking to The Tab said the college’s actions were symptomatic of a wider problem at Queens’ college: that it is run by a governing body who are out of touch with student opinion, and have little respect for undergraduate concerns.
Trivialising the welfare issues forwarded by undergraduates, it came to light in a JCR open meeting that the college believes “there is too much psychological dependency put on the ballot”.
Their complaint, it would seem, is that Queens’ undergraduates place importance on the conditions under which they live.
As one student claimed, “living with our friends is important to us. As is feeling a modicum of respect for our opinions.”
Instead, the college has responded with a number of threats towards those who fail to comply with the new arrangements.
Attempts to publicly confer about living arrangements will have students thrown out of college accommodation, and it was also implied that should students attempt to boycott the ballot, or refuse to comply with changes, graduates would be shipped in to take their rooms.
In an email sent to the Dean and Senior Tutor, voiced in the JCR open meeting, the Queens’ JCR Presidents expressed the grievances of the undergraduate body:
“The aspect of this whole process that has made all of the students involved so unhappy has been the tone. This process has absolutely not felt like a discussion between two parties who respect each others opinions.
“Instead, college doesn’t seem interested in what we, the representatives of the student body, have to say on the matter. This problem is far more fundamental than any of our differences of opinion on individual aspects of the planned changes.”
This is the brunt of the issue. Whilst the new accommodation arrangements are frankly ridiculous, what is even more concerning is the flagrant lack of respect that the college seems to have for student opinion.
The attitude of the college is however, nothing new.
Last year Queens’ students were “charged to live on a building site,” as the college consistently missed expected deadlines for work being done on Docket building.
Students were told they could live in a Travelodge if they did not want to inhabit the site, and the JCR committee was informed that the “construction work was undertaken in order to improve the college as a conference venue.”
Quarterly Scheme students, those paying extra to stay in their rooms outside of term time, are also often forced to leave their rooms to make way for conference guests, leading one international student to complain that “it is difficult to make Queens’ feel like my home”.
These actions have led to JCR complaints, voiced in an open letter to the governing body, that “management would rather the college exist as a business than as an educational institution.”
One member of Queens’ involved in the access schemes stated:
“Queens’ has so many things going for it, but the college’s complete disregard for its student body means I’m now at the point of actively discouraging students from coming here’.”