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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas dinner

Thank you to everyone who helped out at Christmas dinner last week.

I was delighted that we could continue our Connaught Hall tradition of having our own residents play live music throughout dinner and for members of my team to serve residents their dinner at the table. And of course, the kitchen staff did a wonderful job of decorating the dining hall and preparing a really super meal for us all. As well as all this planned work, a number of students generously - and without being asked - gave their time to help with organisation on the day. Thank you again to everyone.

Photographs of our Christmas dinner are now online:

I wish everyone at Connaught Hall a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Christmas address

Technical difficulties have prevented the podcast of my Christmas dinner speech being uploaded. This was the text of my speech:

I said in my speech to the welcome buffet this year that I hoped you would all quickly settle into the Hall and make it your home; and I see evidence every day that you are doing just that: there is a real sense of community at Connaught Hall this year, and I know many of you have made friendships here already that will endure long beyond your time at University.

And I hope events like Christmas dinner and party, the Christmas tree dressing last Thursday, and our night out on Foundation Day, when 20 students from Connaught Hall had a chance to meet Princess Anne, help you to meet people you otherwise would never get to know.

I also said in my welcome speech that I wanted discipline to be a very minor part of my role this year - and I'm happy to say this wish has also come true. So thanks are due to all of you for that.

The Residents' Club Committee has been very active this term. As well as numerous Christmas-themed events in these last two weeks, they've organised three parties and a talent show; they've taken residents on trips to the theatre and the cinema; a group of residents went to Cambridge for a day; and several sports tournaments have either already taken place or are planned in the near future.

The Officers of the Club have also been active in helping to represent your views to Hall staff and to contractors like the catering department. The Club's financial situation is healthy and I hope they will continue to organise activities for you all to get involved in next year.

Now, the Residents' Club Committee are your representatives in Hall; if you think they should be doing things differently, or if you have suggestions for events they could organise or causes to support, I know they will be glad to receive your constructive feedback by email or in person. They are also currently considering ways in which they can engage more residents in the decision-making process in Hall.
If we all work together we can contribute to an even more dynamic and outward-looking, more representative, Residents' Club.

We have had a few problems with the lift and with one or two catering issues; but I hope you will agree that we've all engaged in constructive dialogue about these things and largely resolved them.

There will be some refurbishment work taking place over the Christmas vacation, and those of you who regularly use the bar in particular should notice some improvements when it reopens in January.

Most of you will be leaving Connaught Hall for a few weeks over Christmas.
If you are going away, make sure you have claimed your meal rebate and that you leave your key and swipe card at reception when you sign out.

If you're staying here during the vacation, remember that some of our meals will be provided at International Hall and Hughes Parry Hall but Connaught will otherwise be open as usual; the Senior Members and I will be here throughout if you need any help.
As always, get in touch if you have any suggestions; we can only make things better with your help.

If you are travelling during the holidays, I wish you a safe journey and look forward to seeing you back relaxed and refreshed next year.

And I wish you all a wonderful, happy Christmas, and a successful new year.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Common rooms

We've had a couple of problems with the common rooms in recent weeks, so I want to make sure everyone is clear about the best way to use the common rooms whilst ensuring other residents are not inconvenienced.

There are some rules about using the common rooms, posted on the doors to the common rooms, and you can view this poster by clicking here.

The key things to remember are:

1. There are bedrooms immediately opposite and adjacent to both common rooms. They do have proper concrete walls (rather than the thin plasterboard that separates many bedrooms from one another) so it's ok to talk at normal volume in the common rooms any time. But they are not an appropriate place to hold a party at night: as with any other area of the building, no noise should be audible from outside the common rooms between 11pm and 7am.

2. Please don't "reserve" common rooms. They are for eveyone. If you need a room to study in, talk to someone in the Bursar's Office well in advance and they will see if there is anything they can do to help.

3. Leave the common rooms tidy. If everyone picks up their own rubbish and puts it in the bin, the room will be in a useable state for the next resident who wants to use it. They're only cleaned once every morning!

Christmas tree dressing

Thank you to everyone (all 30 or 40 of you) who helped to decorate the Hall's two Christmas trees on Thursday. The trees look great.

I thought the mince pies and mulled wine were pretty good, and it seemed as though everyone involved enjoyed the chance to dress a Christmas tree - one of those things that you don't realise you will miss at home when you move to University!

On Friday is our Hall Christmas dinner. All residents are invited and you can see the menu and programme of entertainment here. You can also see the photos from past Christmas dinners at Connaught Hall.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Facilities Committee

Applications are invited for eight student representatives on the Hall Facilities Committee.

As a student representative, you will meet with Hall staff and members of the elected Residents’ Club Committee to help make decisions about:

  • fire safety
  • housekeeping
  • first aid
  • security
  • catering
  • smoking policy
  • maintenance
  • health promotion
  • reception services
  • recycling & re-use

There are four meetings a year, each lasting around one hour – so it’s not a huge commitment, and it’s a good point to add to your CV!

If you want to join, send a note of your name, room number & email address to no later than 6pm on 26 November.

If more than eight residents apply, members will be chosen randomly from the applications received. The first meeting will be in early December.

Remembrance Sunday & Armistice Day

A national two-minute silence will be held at 11.00 am on Remembrance Sunday (8 November) to remember those who have been killed or injured in wars and conflicts worldwide. Her Majesty The Queen will lead a national service of remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, starting at 10.30. There will be a further national two-minute silence at 11.00 am on Armistice Day (11 November), marking the end of the First World War.

At Connaught Hall, the beginning and end of the two-minute silence on both Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day will be marked by brief soundings of the fire alarm. We encourage residents and visitors to participate in a few moments of quiet reflection.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Open office sessions

Open office sessions for November now available:

Fall back...

Remember: BST ends at 02.00 on Sunday 25 October.

Set your clocks back by one hour at 02.00 (i.e. 02.00 becomes 01.00).

Foundation Day

I have some tickets for Connaught Hall residents to attend Foundation Day on Wednesday 25 November.

Foundation Day is the annual celebration of the grant of the Royal Charter to the University of London. Held in the evening at Senate House, the event begins with the presentation of honorary degrees to a number of public figures by the Chancellor of the University of London, HRH The Princess Royal. Following this ceremony, there is a reception where Her Royal Highness likes to meet many of the students present and guests can enjoy canapes and a glass of wine.

If you would like a ticket, fill in the online form at before 10pm on Tuesday 27 October.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Residents' Club Committee

Congratulations to the successful candidates in tonight's election to the Residents' Club Committee:

President - Matthew MacLachlan

Secretary - Polly McKinlay

Treasurer - Alastair Heggie

Entertainment - Aria Shafa

Sports - James Hemsley

The results in full:

134 ballot papers were returned (turnout 63.5%).
There was one spoiled ballot paper.

  • Hugh Black - 35
  • Matthew MacLachlan - 44
  • Roland Nathaniel - 17
  • David Whelan - 5
  • James Wilson - 25

  • Ilona Brenninkmeijer - 53
  • Polly McKinlay - 69

  • Naaz Ahmed - 38
  • Alastair Heggie - 65
  • Chris Radford - 25

  • Josh Lipworth - 47
  • Aria Shafa - 82

  • James Hemsley - 108

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Residents' Club Committee election

Nominations are now open for election to the Residents' Club Committee.

For details and to sign up, visit the election website:

Social events

Social events in Hall this week:

Connaught "my Kodak" picture challenge: Monday 5 October (afternoon)

Pub quiz: Monday 5 October in the bar (evening)

Circle Line pub crawl: Tuesday 6 October (afternoon)

Tea party with cakes: Tuesday 6 October (evening)

First-floor reception with wine: Tuesday 6 October (7-8pm in the Tavistock Room)

Visit to the Trocadero centre: Wednesday 7 October (afternoon)

Welcome buffet with wine: Wednesday 7 October (6-7pm in the dining hall)

Sports afternoon: Thursday 8 October

Speed meeting: Thursday 8 October (evening)

Ground-floor & basement reception with wine: Thursday 8 October (7-8pm in the Bamforth Room)

Third-floor reception with wine: Thursday 8 October (7-8pm in the 3rd fl Common Room)

Trip to the British Museum: Friday 9 October (afternoon)

Curry night: Friday 9 October (evening)

Trip to Camden market: Saturday 10 October (afternoon)

Freshers party: Saturday 10 October (8pm-2am in the bar)

Rounders in Regent's Park: Sunday 11 October (afternoon)

Film night: Sunday 11 October (evening)

Fourth-floor reception with wine: Sunday 11 October (7-8pm in the 4th fl Common Room)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Open office sessions

My open office sessions for October are as follows:

Saturday 3 October 17.00 – 18.00

Wednesday 7 October 19.00 – 19.45

Saturday 17 October 20.30 – 21.30

Thursday 22 October 20.00 – 21.00

These are open sessions in my office on the ground floor.

You can drop in without an appointment to discuss anything that is concerning you. If the office door is closed, please wait in reception until the door is opened.

If you prefer to make an appointment to see me a different time, use the online form at


We've received a few noise complaints already this year about noise mostly in the early hours of the morning when residents come home from a night out.

Please remember the walls in Hall are pretty thin and the layout of our corridors means the noise from voices and slamming doors travels a long way and can disturb a lot of people. This was a problem identified by many respondents to last year's noise survey, the results of which are published here:

So please keep your voices down when you get back after a night out, try not to let doors slam shut, and be aware that if you're in the corridor or standing outside the front of the Hall smoking, any noise you make could wake up lots of people.

If you're having problems with noise, email us at

Friday, 25 September 2009


There will be afternoon tea in the reception lobby between 2 and 5 pm this Sunday (27/09).

Unfortunately I will only be able to attend right at the end of afternoon tea as I have to work in my emergency department at short notice this weekend. I will dine in Hall this Sunday so if you wanted to talk to me at afternoon tea, come and find at dinner instead. I will also be at afternoon tea on Sunday 4 October as planned.

My next open office session is at 5 pm on Saturday 3 October.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Welcome & fitness room

It's been a pleasure to meet some of the first wave of new residents to move in this weekend. I hope you are all starting to settle in and looking forward to lots more arrivals over the next two weeks.

Quite a few people have been asking about the gym / fitness room.

The University has asked us to close the gym on insurance / health & safety grounds: if we kept the gym open and someone hurt themself, our insurers would not pay out, which would cause problems for the injured resident, the hall finances, and all the other residents whose facilities would suffer as a result of the hall having to foot the compensation bill.

I do really think this is a shame but the truth is that the fitness room was only ever used by a small minority of residents and its closure opens up the possibility of us creating a new, exciting social space in the basement that should be more widely used. This is a project that the elected Residents' Club Committee for 2009-10 will enjoy.

Be sure to let us know if you have any ideas for how we could use the old fitness room in future.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Welcome events

Sunday 27th September & Sunday 4th October, 2pm to 5pm
in the reception lobby

Afternoon tea hosted by the Warden and Senior Members: tea & cakes and an opporunity to meet the staff and other residents; families and friends also welcome to take a break from moving in!

Wednesday 7th October, 6pm
in the dining hall

Welcome buffet supper: a special buffet-style supper with wine, a formal welcome from the Warden, introductions to the staff, and another chance to mingle with other residents.

Wednesday 14th October, 6pm
in the dining hall
(provisional date)

Residents' Club Committee elections and General Meeting: candidates standing for election to the Residents' Club Committee make their speeches and residents can vote for their preferred candidates. Residents will also be asked to vote on proposed amendments to the Club Constitution - draft copy available to download at

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The closure

Connaught Hall is closed from 21 August to 6 September. The exterior doors are all locked and only a handful of staff members who have the front door key can get in and out. There is no receptionist and no catering. From outside, the windows, normally beacons of warmth from the illuminated rooms within, are empty and dark. The Hall always has an eerie feel to it during closure, especially at night.

But inside preparations gather apace for meeting new students who will start arriving from the day we re-open our doors. Most students won't arrive until the last weekend in September or even the first in October, but we still need to be ready for when we open on the 6th.

The Residents' Handbook and this year's welcome letter must be finalised and printed, and I need to record my welcome podcast; posters, forms, leaflets, and stationery updated to reflect the staff changes that have taken place in the past 3 months; all the rooms must be fully cleaned; and this is the period when most major building / redecorating work takes place, so as not to interfere with residents' studies dring term time.

Soon after the closure are the University of London Open Days, to which Connaught Hall will be contributing this year.

And looking forward to early October, we must arrange welcome receptions (afternoon tea), a welcome buffet, and elections to the Residents' Club Committee. And they may want to organise a welcome party for everyone.

It'll be Christmas soon. Better get to it!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Pandemic influenza information

I put together a list of the most useful official UK information about the influenza pandemic.

We will have a policy in place before the beginning of the 2009-10 academic year for dealing with residents who contract influenza and for reducing transmission of flu within the Hall. Further, specific information is to follow from the University of London, and I will post details as soon as they are available.

For now, these are the best sources of information:

HM Government pandemic flu service
Information about pandemic flu and a symptom assessment tool; if you have symptoms of flu, you will be prescribed antiviral
medication from this website.

HM Government leaflet about influenza A/H1N1v
Leaflet delivered to every household in the UK.

UK Health Protection Agency
for the public and answers to frequently asked questions.

NHS Choices detailed information about swine flu
Details of
symptoms, signs, tests, treatment, and diagnosis.

NHS Direct
Health advice via the internet or by phone: 08 45 46 47.

Connaught Hall local healthcare facilities
Connaught Hall leaflet with details of local medical facilities and reliable
online sources of health advice.

Warden's team 2009-10

Warden (

Dr. Adrian Clark
Specialty Registrar in Emergency Medicine
London Postgraduate Medical Deanery

Senior Members (

Hawa Abubakar
M.B., B.S. candidate in Medicine
King’s College London

Anton Alatsatianos
M.B., B.S. candidate in Medicine
King’s College London

Amy Lei
B.D.S. candidate in Dentistry
King’s College London

Ashleigh Melvin
Ph.D. candidate in History
Birkbeck College

Alyson Mercer
Ph.D. candidate in History
SAS Institute of Historical Research

Visit for more information.

Contacting the Warden's team

The Senior Members and I are resident in Hall, so you will often see us around the building. The team member living on your floor is often a good first point of contact. You are welcome to approach us whenever you see us in Hall; if we are not immediately available, we will arrange a time to meet.

Leave a note at reception or email me ( if you would like an appointment to see me, or look out for posters advertising my next open office session, when you can drop in to see me in my office without an appointment.

If you don’t need to discuss things in person, you can just write to us about the problem. You can email all the team at the same time using, or use our online contact page at, which will guide you through all the information we need to be best able to deal with your query quickly and efficiently. Individual Senior Members can be contacted by email using the format

We also have a dedicated email address for reporting noise problems as this is probably the thing we deal with most:

There is an on-call Duty Officer from the Warden’s team available whenever the Bursar’s Office is closed, to help with any emergencies that arise in Hall (e.g. fire, lost keys, intruders, medical emergencies, injuries, disciplinary problems, emergency maintenance needs, etc.). The person on duty can always be contacted via reception.

Welcome to Connaught Hall

This is adapted from the welcome text in the Hall handbook. I thought it was a good place to start this new blog.

Connaught Hall is a fully catered University of London intercollegiate hall of residence for full-time students from all the colleges and institutes of the University. We aim to provide a secure, supportive, friendly, and tolerant environment in which our residents can study, relax, and socialise.

Connaught Hall was established in 1919 by HRH Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn — the third son of Queen Victoria — at 18 Torrington Square as a private hall of residence for male students, a memorial to the Duchess of Connaught, who died in 1917. The Duke gave the Hall to the University of London in 1928, but it was not until 1961 that Connaught Hall moved out of Torrington Square to its present location in Tavistock Square: a converted Georgian terrace with a Grade II listed fa├žade. Women have been admitted since 2001.

One of eight intercollegiate halls of residence, Connaught Hall now accommodates 211 students. There is an even mix of men and women and a great diversity of cultural and social backgrounds. Most residents are first-year undergraduates, with around 20% being allowed to return for a second year at the Warden’s discretion; approximately 10% are postgraduates, and about a third are overseas students.

Most accommodation is in single study-bedrooms; there is room for ten students in twin rooms. There is a washbasin in every room, but toilet and shower facilities are all shared. Every room has telephone and internet connections. Amenities include a fitness room, laundrette, common rooms with TV, computer room, library, private courtyard garden, and a bar managed and staffed by Hall residents. Numerous meeting rooms are available, which are hired out during the day and early evening; in the summer, residential courses and conferences are held in the Hall. These activities make a direct financial contribution towards keeping student fees down and facilitating improvements throughout the Hall.

Many of the residents in Hall are experiencing life away from home for the first time; for some, home is on the other side of the world. And whilst London is undoubtedly a vibrant and exciting place, it can sometimes be a lonely and impersonal city in which to live. So at Connaught Hall we hope to be a warm and welcoming "home from home".

As the Warden, I am resident within the Hall; assisted by five student Senior Members, I deal with community matters and issues concerning residents’ welfare and discipline. We can offer advice and assistance on academic and pastoral matters, and help with any disputes between residents (including, most commonly, noise complaints).

The elected Residents’ Club Committee, meanwhile, organises social events and runs the Hall bar on behalf of the residents, under my supervision. Please do get to know me and my team and participate in the activities of the Residents’ Club Committee to shape the social programme to your requirements.

I and all the staff wish you an enjoyable and successful time at Connaught Hall. We look forward to meeting you and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.