Search This Blog

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas address

My speech to this year's Christmas dinner at Connaught Hall

Photos from the evening are available at http://www.connaught-hall.org.uk/photos/christmas2010/.

I hope you are all having a good time. I think this has been a great end to a very enjoyable first term. And it’s not even over yet – we’ve got live music in a few minutes, then Christmas pudding, carol singing after dinner, and our Christmas masquerade ball at 8 o’clock till 1.

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; I am delighted to see 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.

I hope events like the welcome buffet, like this dinner, the Christmas tree dressing last week, and our night out on Foundation Day help you to meet people you otherwise would never get to know and reinforce your sense that this place is your home and our community is your family here in London.

Still reflecting back to my welcome speech: I tried to play down my role in enforcing discipline here because I hoped you would all get on with each other and pretty much stay within the rules. So I’m very pleased to say that by-and-large I think you’re possibly the friendliest, most mature – and frankly, the one of the best – year of residents I can remember.

The Residents' Club Committee this year have been doing a good job of balancing events and activities with the need for financial restraint this year. And I think after
tonight’s masquerade ball you will agree they have worked extremely hard to organise a fantastic party for you. We had a few weeks without a Sports Officer, but as you should have seen, Amin was unopposed in the by-election last week; so we now have a Sports Officer and you should start to see some more sports events
being organised.


The Committee have had the disadvantage of not being able to hold late parties for most of this term because of licensing issues following our welcome party. But I think we have got over these issues, with a few tweaks to how we organise our parties, and I hope tonight’s ball will be a fresh start and the first of several successful parties for this Committee.

As always, get in touch if you have any suggestions for me and my team, the Bursar’s Office, or the Residents’ Club. We can only make things better with your help; if you tell us what you want; and report things if they’re not working as they should.


Now, the kitchen staff have been working all day to prepare this super meal for us, so I think we should say thank you for all their hard work.

The other people we have to thank are all the residents who helped set up the dining hall today – I think it looks amazing, thank you!

And finally, our musicians.

Don't forget to have your photo taken beside the tree and stay for carols after pudding. Then put a mask on and enjoy the party in the bar.

I am going to hand over to our in just a few seconds: Polly & Sam, Alex, and Kate & Elliott.

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 all of you a wonderful, joyful Christmas, and a happy, successful new year.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

New Sports Officer

Amin Yazdi was unopposed as a candidate in the Sports Officer by-election. He has therefore been returned as the new Sports Officer on the Residents' Club Committee.

Christmas tree decorating

Thank you to everyone who helped decorate the Hall Christmas trees last night. I hope you enjoyed the mulled wine and mince pies - and maybe even the music!

The trees look great and I was impressed with how many turned out to help. I enjoyed the evening and I hope you all did too.



A couple of people asked me what some of the music was, so the playlist from my iPod is reproduced here:

I'll Be Home For Christmas - Al Green

Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid

Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys

Do You Hear What I Hear? - Bing Crosby

White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms

Little Drummer Boy - Boney M

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Boney M

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - The Cadillacs

Last Christmas - Cascada

A spaceman came travelling - Chris De burgh

A Spaceman Came Travelling - Chris De Burgh

The Christmas Song - Christina Aguilera

The Christmas Song (Holiday Remix) - Christina Aguilera

All I Want For Christmas - Mariah Carey

Mistletoe And Wine - Cliff Richard

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - The Crystals

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Crystals

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love

A Winter's Tale - David Essex

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin

Baby, It's Cold Outside - Dean Martin

Step Into Christmas - Elton John

Winter Wonderland - Elvis Presley

Jingle Bell Rock - Girls Aloud

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year - Glee Cast

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Glee Cast

O Christmas Tree - Glee Cast

Angels We Have Heard On High - Glee Cast

O Holy Night - Glee Cast

Deck The Halls - Gospel Enlightenment

We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Gospel Enlightenment

I Believe In Father Christmas - Greg Lake

We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Hallé Orchestra/Maurice Handford

Sleigh Ride - Hayley Westenra

Frosty The Snowman - The Jackson 5

So This Is Christmas - John Lennon & Yoko Ono

When A Child Is Born - Johnny Mathis

Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie

Fairytale of New York - Kirsty MacColl/The Pogues

Mr. Christmas - Kristine W

Christmas Tree - Lady Gaga

O Christmas Tree - Londonderry Boys Choir

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Mariah Carey

O Holy Night - Mariah Carey

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Mariah Carey

Joy To The World - Mariah Carey

Lonely This Christmas - Mud

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney

Frosty The Snowman - The Ronettes

Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes

Jingle Bells - Rosemary Clooney

Little Drummer Boy - Sir Terry Wogan & Aled Jones

Merry Christmas Everybody - Slade

Christmas Wrapping - Spice Girls

I Believe In Father Christmas - State of the Heart

Last Christmas - Wham!

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - Wizard

Winter Wonderland - Aretha Franklin

Temporary Event Notice for Christmas masquerade ball Friday 10th December

There will be some restrictions on guests, music policy, sound levels, and alcohol during our Christmas masquerade ball on Friday. The following letter that I wrote to the Licensing Authority when applying for Friday's temporary event notice explains the changes that you will see.

Addressing difficulties arising at our temporary event on 9 October 2010

At our last temporary event at Connaught Hall, a welcome party on 9-10 October 2010, five non-resident, signed-in guests were responsible for minor assaults on two of our residents. The guests were removed from the premises with no difficulty, but then gathered outside the Hall on Tavistock Square and refused to disperse and go home. I called the police as I was concerned these guests posed a threat of causing disorder.

In the 13 years I have been at Connaught Hall, there have been no previous similar incidents. We have held at least five temporary events every academic year since The Licensing Act 2003 came into effect and several late parties per year under the old magistrates system.

The guests who caused problems have been permanently banned from Connaught Hall; where appropriate, their colleges or student unions have been informed. The residents who signed in those guests have been subject to internal disciplinary proceedings.

I am confident that we can make our parties safer whilst remaining every bit as enjoyable for the majority who I know had a great time and weren't involved in any trouble at all.

From now on, residents may only sign in two guests each during a temporary event. A special sign-in book and more personnel at reception will help monitor this. Residents will be required to show Hall ID when entering the building and guests will be issued with wrist bands.

There will be some changes to the music policy - moving away from any drum & bass towards more disco / pop / uplifting dance music and a clear 30-minute wind-down period with slower music at the end of the event.

Our Christmas party will follow on from a formal Christmas dinner; both events will have a smart dress code with optional (but encouraged) black tie.

Licensed hours will be shorter than at recent Connaught Hall events and there will be a champagne & (long) cocktails theme. We will not run any reduced price drinks promotions.

I hope these measures will prevent any difficulties arising at this or future temporary events at Connaught Hall.

Christmas dinner: Friday 10th December

Connaught Hall's Christmas dinner is at 6.00pm on Friday 10th December.

Follow the link to see the menu and programme of entertainment.

I've also uploaded some photos of past Christmas dinners at Connaught Hall.

I do hope everyone will make the effort to get dressed up: it makes the evening that bit more special!



The current financial climate has made it quite a challenge to get funding and approval for the food, wine, decorations, and table service this year. The package we have agreed will, I hope, match any previous year’s Christmas dinner, but we are not allowed to pay for any extra staff hours in the kitchen – so unlike before, they will not be able to set up and clear away in the dining hall.

So we need a lot of help from residents this year!

Let’s show that we can come together and pull off another brilliant Christmas dinner even with the reduced resources available to us. The Christmas dinner & ball is traditionally the highlight of the social calendar in our Hall, and I really want this year to be the best yet. We can only do it with your help.

Below is the plan for setting up on Friday. If you think you can help with any of these activities, please come and join us in the dining hall.


10.00 Table & chair arranging

11.00 Table cloths on tables & table confetti

12.00 Plates & cutlery to tables

13.30 Glasses to tables

14.00 Candles to tables

14.20 Decorations around dining hall

15.30 Set up music system

17.00 Starters put out on tables

17.40 Staff, committee, musicians meet in dining hall

17.45 Candles lit

18.00 DOORS OPEN, LIVE MUSIC STARTS

18.05 Wine taken to tables

18.10 Recorded music replaces live music

18.20 MAIN COURSE SERVED

18.20 Photographs taken at each table

18.45 SPEECH

18.50 LIVE MUSIC

19.00 Recorded music

19.00 PUDDING SERVED

19.15 Residents clear tables of plates & cutlery

19.20 CHRISTMAS CAROLS

19.20 Photographs by the tree

19.30 Wine glasses cleared away

* 19.40 Set up guest signing‐in table at reception

19.40 Candles cleared away

20.00 Rubbish in bin

* 20.00 Guest checks & wrist bands

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Residents' Club election results

The results at last night's election were as follows:

President
Hannes ANSORG: 16
William STANGER: 33
James WILSON: 88

Secretary
Michelle ANSAH: 98
Hannah EDWARDS: 42

Treasurer
Daniel ENG: 33
Jacob MURPHY: 43
Thomas STEWART: 63

Entertainment Officer
Freddie ELCOCK: 51
Zac ZURYBIDA: 86

Sports Officer
Harbhajan Singh BARYAH: 78
Jamie HURLEY: 59


The turnout was 140.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Party 9 October 2010

If you attended our welcome party last night you will be aware that we unfortunately had three scuffles break out and a number of residents were injured. Some non-resident guests were involved in every case. The non-residents were all escorted off the premises last night.

If you know who they are, please check your photographs from last night for clear face pictures of any non-residents who were involved in last night’s problems. I should be very grateful if you would send any such photos to me so that reception can be instructed not to allow access to the hall for those people again.

If you were one of the residents involved, please make an appointment to see me this week so we can find out exactly what happened and how we can prevent it from happening again.

If you signed in any of the guests whom I had to escort out of the building, I should like to see you too.

I will be available in my office tonight (Sunday) between 17.00 and 18.00, and on Friday 15th between 20.15 and 21.15 (after the election & count). Or you can make an appointment to see me most evenings this week.

I know most of you had an enjoyable and trouble-free night and I am sorry that a handful of disruptive elements spoiled the end of the party – and, given that the police were eventually involved, damaged our prospects for being able to hold future late parties.

We have never had anyone injured in this way at any of our parties at least since the Licensing Act 2003 and the current procedure for organising late parties came into force. Last night's problems must prompt us to review how we manage parties, how late the bar stays open, and security arrangements. I will write to you all in more detail about the events of last night and our response in the next week or so, after I have spoken with those involved.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Fire

A fire on the roof of the dining hall yesterday evening, related to the ongoing building work to the roof, damaged the servery area of the dining hall. Consequently, our dining hall will be closed until the beginning of next week when the damge can be repaired. Meanwhile, Connaught Hall residents may take meals at International Hall - but you you must remember to take your Hall ID card with you.

Thank you all for conducting an orderly evacuation yesterday.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Welcome buffet

I hope everyone enjoyed our welcome buffet last night. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to meet some more residents and put a few more names to faces.

Here is the text of my welcome address in case you couldn't make it to the buffet last night:


Good evening everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the buffet. In case we haven’t met yet, I’m Adrian Clark, the Warden.

You all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch – well, there’s no such thing as a free buffet either – so I am going to take about 6 minutes to welcome you to the Hall, introduce the staff, and tell you about some things that are happening in the next few weeks.

So, firstly, on behalf of the University of London and all the staff in Hall: welcome! I hope you are starting to settle in now and that you will enjoy a very happy and successful year here.

You probably know that Connaught Hall has a reputation for being a very friendly Hall. So I hope you will continue our tradition of being the most sociable and community-spirited hall of residence in London. And that means two things: we have a lot of fun but we also look out for one another and always respect everyone who shares this community with us.

I’m sorry that your first few weeks have been marred by building work that over-ran from the summer, but I have been very impressed by how tolerant and cooperative everyone has been while these works are finished. So thank you.

Now, I want to introduce some of the staff to you.

Harriet is our deputy bursar. She works full time office hours in the general office just behind reception and can help you with problems with your room, paying fees, catering, housekeeping, maintenance, all that sort of really quite useful stuff. And if she can’t help, she will put you in contact with someone who can.

As the Warden, I am responsible for your welfare, the community and social life of the Hall; and discipline I have a team of five student Senior Members to assist me (Alyson, Ashleigh, Amy, John, Tom).

We can help with … well, pretty much anything you throw at us, really, … So feel free to approach us any time you see us around the Hall, contact me for an appointment, or come to one of my open office sessions.

One of the Senior Members is on duty and available in the Hall every evening and weekend – basically whenever the office is closed – to help in case of emergency. You can contact the Duty Senior Member any time by asking at reception.

This is a welcome speech so I don’t want to dwell on discipline. But I do want to talk about noise, which is by far the most common complaint that the Senior Members and I have to deal with. The walls and floors are pretty thin -you’ve noticed, I’m sure; noise travels easily, so please be considerate of your neighbours, especially between 11pm and 7am. And if someone asks you to be quiet, be nice and help them out.

Our new common rooms here in the basement – we’ve just moved them down from the third and fourth floors – are quite far from any bedrooms so you can be a bit louder in the common rooms, within reason.

And of course, the bar is in the basement, too. I know many of you have already discovered that our bar is a really friendly space to relax and meet people. So I hope you will all enjoy using the bar – whether you drink or not – and maybe even think about working there. A word of warning, though: all seven other intercollegiate halls have had their student-run bars closed by the powers that be. So please don’t let there be any justification for our bar to be closed: use it sensibly, and don’t go out from the bar into the garden after 11pm: because noise from the garden attracts complaints both from residents and from neighbouring buildings – and that’s a sure-fire way for us to lose our licence. So enjoy the bar, but help us make sure it stays open!

Now, the more you get involved with Hall life, the more you will get out of it. The social life of the hall will be what you make it. There are lots of ways to get involved – starting right now.

The Residents’ Club Committee organises most of the big social events and runs the bar. You will be asked to elect a new committee next Friday. And I would really encourage you all to consider standing for election to one of the committee posts.

On the subject of the Committee, let’s all show our appreciation for Matthew, Polly, Alastair, and Aria from last year’s committee for putting on such a great fortnight of freshers’ activities for us… And don’t forget Lewis, our new bar manager, who
has taken to his job so smoothly and had a brilliant series of events going on
in the bar!

But even if you don’t want to join the Committee, you can still set up your own social events and clubs. We’ve had wine clubs, jazz bands, film clubs, table tennis tournaments… all sorts of things. It’s up to you. The Residents’ Club can sometimes help you with funding for these sorts of clubs. Talk to me if you need help setting anything like this up.

Also think about joining the Facilities Committee, where you can meet the Hall’s management staff and make suggestions about catering, cleaning, maintenance, and that sort of thing. Ashleigh is going to be running the Facilities Committee this year so talk to her or me for more information.

And the last thing I want to plug is Foundation Day. I hope you have seen the posters for this event on 25 November, where HRH The Princess Royal, as Chancellor of the University, presents honorary degrees to some well-known people including, this year, the Archbishop of York and Mary Quant (the inventor of the mini-skirt). After the degree ceremony, there is a reception where the Princess likes to try and meet all the students who attend. You can sometimes meet the honorary graduates as well. It’s quite a fun evening, and a nice chance to get dressed up, so do think about sending me your name for a ticket. I need to send our guest list to the University on 10th October.

Finally, if you have any questions or problems, please talk to a member of staff. We’re all fairly nice! And we will try to help you to sort out any difficulties; but we obviously can’t help if we don’t know there is a problem!

I look forward to meeting you all very soon. And I hope you will quickly come to call Connaught Hall your home, make some great friends here, and that you will look back on this year as one of the best of your life.

Now, please raise your glasses… to the best hall in London, to you - it’s residents - and our best year so far...

Monday, 4 October 2010

Open office

I've just published the times of my open office sessions for October and November. USe these sessions to come and talk to me about anything that's bothering you, or just for a chat and a catchu-up if you like. It's a bit less formal than "making an appointment" and if I'm super organised on the day, I can sometimes make you a cup of coffee. No promises on the coffee - but I can promise to listen to you and do my best to help.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sports

It's been great to see how popular the sports events have been so far this year. I think sport is a really good way for residents to get to know one another, work together, and ultimately contribute more to the Hall community. I hope this is something that will continue throughout the year.

Election

Yesterday, I opened nominations for the Residents' Club Committee election to be held on Friday 15 October.

If you think you can help continue Connaught Hall's tradition of being the most sociable (and, frankly, the best) hall of residence in London, I would strongly encourage you to stand for election to one of the five positions: President, Secretary, Treasurer, Entertainment, or Sports (click on the titles to see an explanation of the role and what will be expected of the post-holder this year).

I've written a letter to all potential candidates and a statement on the Club's current financial position.

Visit election.connaught-hall.org.uk for more information and to submit your nomination or to view the real-time list of candidates along with their manifestos.

Good luck if you are standing for election!

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea on the first two Sundays of this academic year has been very well attended. I've had the pleasure of meeting lots of this year's freshers as well as catching up with the news from returning students.

The attendance has been so much better than the last few years yet the only difference from the organisational side is that this year we have music in the lobby (it's a collection of Glen Miller's best known tracks, if you were wondering). The music certainly does help create a really nice atmosphere.

I'm looking forward to meeting more residents this afternoon for the third and final Sunday afternoon tea of this term.

Please don't walk on the scaffolding

Please do not walk / climb on the scaffolding. Paragraph 8.1 of our supplementary regulations states -

You must not attempt to gain access to the roof or any ledges or parapets on the Hall exterior.


Accessing the scaffolding is therefore a breach of your accommodation agreement. Anyone found on the scaffolding will at the very least be required to attend a disciplinary interview.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Foundation Day 2010

I have a limited number of tickets for Connaught Hall residents to attend Foundation Day 2010 at Senate House on 25 November. The Chancellor of the University of London, HRH The Princess Royal, will preside over this flagship event to which students, staff and those with long-standing connections to the University are invited.

A special dinner will be held in the dining hall at Connaught Hall so all those attending can eat together at high table and then depart for Senate House as a group.

The following eminent individuals have already confirmed their acceptance to receive an Honorary Degree from the University:

• HE Luisa Dias Diogo, former president of Mozambique – Doctor of Science (Economics)
• Mary Quant OBE, fashion designer – Doctor of Literature
• Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu – Doctor of Divinity
• Anne Stevenson, poet and writer – Doctor of Literature

Hall residents who want to attend Foundation Day should complete the online form at tickets.connaught-hall.org.uk before 10 October. Please do not sign up if you think you might not actually attend, as you will be taking a ticket from someone else who might really want to go.

The dress code is lounge suit or smart day dress/academic robes.

The poster advertising Foundation Day at Connaught Hall can be viewed here.

Background: 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, H.R.H. The Princess Royal. Following the honorary degree ceremony, there is a reception where Her Royal Highness likes to meet many of the students present.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Welcome to Connaught Hall!

We've just published this year's welcome letter and a list of freshers' events.

All of us at Connaught Hall want to extend you a very warm welcome. We hope you will settle in quickly and that you will very soon be calling Connaught Hall “home”. All the staff are here to make your time in Hall as comfortable, safe, and enjoyable as possible so please come and talk to us any time you need help or even just for a chat.

Visit the Connaught Hall website at http://www.connaught-hall.org.uk/. It's just been updated for 2010-11.

While you’re there, please take a few minutes to look through the Residents’ Handbook, which explains many of the Hall’s procedures, including where to find help should you need it, and outlines our expectations of your behaviour. Also available through the website are the Hall Licence Agreement and Supplementary Regulations. These constitute your contract of residence in Hall so it is important that you are familiar with them.

The Senior Members and I are resident members of staff responsible for welfare, discipline, re-admissions, and the community life of the Hall. I am a full-time hospital doctor specialising in accident & emergency; I am available in Hall on a part-time basis most evenings and weekends. The five Senior Members are experienced, usually postgraduate, students. We are all here to offer support and guidance in case of problems such as academic difficulties, health or emotional issues, social concerns, and disputes between residents. Feel free to approach me or a Senior Member whenever you see us around the Hall; attend one of my open office sessions (dates and times here: openoffice.connaught-hall.org.uk); or email wardens.team@connaught-hall.org.uk. I can usually arrange a time to meet within a few days. There is always a Duty Senior Member on call at evenings & weekends to help in case of emergency. You can contact the Duty Senior Member any time via reception.

We wish you a happy and successful year at Connaught Hall and we all look forward to meeting you soon.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Major refurbishment work at Connaught Hall

A major programme of refurbishment will take place at Connaught Hall during the summer this year. The main work will involve:

 replacing the roof and water tanks on the top of the building;
 replacing the roof of the dining hall;
 painting the outside of the building;
 converting conference rooms, common rooms, and unused staff flats to 28 new student rooms for next year; and
 making the Bell Room and Bamforth Room our common rooms, the old fitness room into a library, and rearranging the computer room.

From 7 June, scaffolding will be erected outside the Hall to allow the roof works and repainting to take place. Please do not attempt to walk on the scaffolding at any time; this is dangerous and will be considered a disciplinary offence. The scaffolding will have intruder alarms fitted but to help prevent theft, please ensure that you keep your window closed at all times when you are not in your room.

From 10 June, specialist workers will begin to remove asbestos which was found in some of the work areas. The University of London adheres to the most rigorous safety procedures in dealing with asbestos; our asbestos policy goes beyond the legal requirements for safe handling of this material and all relevant regulations and safeguards will be followed throughout this work. You may see workers wearing masks and overalls. This is not cause for alarm; strict procedures are in place to ensure they do not contaminate other areas of the Hall. It is, however, extremely important that you do not try to enter any of the rooms where asbestos is being removed. Signs will be posted so you know where the work is taking place.

As with all maintenance and building matters, this refurbishment project has been organised and will be overseen by the Bursar's Office and the Estates & Facilities staff at the University of London.

However, as the member of staff responsible for your welfare in Hall, I have been consulted and kept informed throughout and can assure you that every possible measure has been taken to minimise disruption for those students staying in Hall (very nearly all of you will have left before the major work begins) and all necessary safety measures will be employed and closely monitored for the duration of the work.

I do not expect that noise will be an issue in the early stage of the refurbishment, but we will continue to provide quiet study areas 24/7 in case you do find a need to study somewhere other than in your room.

I am aware that the simple mention of asbestos can raise concerns for some people. We have detailed information available from the University's Health & Safety Manager if you remain concerned about this; simply contact info.connaught@london.ac.uk or come to one of my open office sessions for a copy of his detailed description of the safety procedures that will be in place.

Thank you for your patience while this essential refurbishment work is carried out. Please let us know if it is causing problems for you and we will do what we can to help.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Election night: Thursday 6th May 2010

There's been quite a lot of interest in the TV leaders' debates in the run-up to the UK general election, with a fair few residents watching the debates in the common rooms.

On election night (Thursday 6th May), we will move the large TV from the third-floor common room to the Bell Room and put some comfy sofas in there so you can watch the results as they come in.

Eight hours of live coverage starts on BBC 1 at 21.55, hosted by David Dimbleby. I hope to join you from about 00.30 when I get home from work!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Residents' Survey - Bursar's Office

Responses to Residents' Survey 10: Bursar's Office

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.


A couple of survey respondents said they thought the Bursar's Office staff were difficult to approach. Harriet, Hafsi, and David are a great team and very friendly so we could only assume this difficulty arises from residents not knowing how, when, or where to appoach them.

I met with the Deputy Bursar and we agreed it would be helpful to post office hours outside the door to the Bursar's Office and an invitation to go right in and discuss any problems. Office hours are liited at the moment due to staff sickness but as soon as the rota is sorted out again, ths measure will be implemented.

Please do feel free to approach anyone in the Bursar's Office during working hours about anything that's bothering you in Hall. They will deal with most facilities / services / accommodation matters there and then, or they might refer you to speak to me if your concerns are related to a socal, wefare, or health matter. Out of hours, there is a Duty Senior Member whom you can contact via reception.

Residents' Survey - Senior Members

Responses to Residents' Survey 9: Senior Members

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.


Two or three survey respondents expressed a desire for the Senior Members to be more visible in the Hall, saying they thought this might make them more approachable.

Relevant guidance in the post description for Senior Members includes:

Senior Members are required to interest themselves in the welfare of students and to assist the Warden with the pastoral, disciplinary and social duties within the Hall to promote a supportive and harmonious living environment for students. Senior Members should participate in – and help to organise – the social life of the Hall. One of their most important roles is mixing with students and keeping in touch with what is happening in the resident community; they are expected to eat in the Hall restaurant regularly as this is one of the best ways to meet other residents. Senior Members must always present a professional but approachable manner and it is essential they set a good example to other students at all times.

Specific duties include:

[...]
- participation in welcome receptions to ensure all new students are greeted;
- attendance at social events throughout the year;
[...]


I think the Senior Members by and large achieve most of these goals but at a recent staff meeting we agreed to provide a more visible presence in the dining hall at meal times and to visit the Hall bar every couple of weeks.

In previous years, the Senior Members and I have hosted afternoon tea every Sunday in the reception lobby - but this did not fulfil our objective of encouraging residents to approach us to discuss difficulties and was often quite poorly attended; so I replaced this event with my regular open office sessions (openoffice.connaught-hall.org.uk).

At our meeting we decided to bring back afternoon tea on select weekends throughout the year. Look out for posters advertising the first event later this term.

Residents' Survey - the dining hall

Responses to Residents' Survey 8: heating in the dining hall

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.


Several survey responses mentioned that the dining hall can be cold, especially in the mornings.


The radiators in the dining hall have all been checked and are working properly. A major contributing factor to the cold is the very poorly insulated roof with north-facing skylights, some of which are very difficult to close. The Bursars have secured fundig for the roof of the dining hall to be completely replaced during the summer this year, which should make it much easier to control the temperature in that part of the building.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Residents' Club Annual General Meeting

Thank you to those residents who were interested enough to attend the Residents' Club AGM tonight. I hope you found it a useful forum to express your views and put questions to Committee members.

At tonight's meeting, on the Motion "The Club accepts the five reports of the elected Officers", voting was as follows:

FOR - 14
AGAINST - 14
ABSTENSIONS - 5


As Clerk to the Club I therefore held the casting vote. My opinion is that if an Officer were removed from his/her post at this stage in the academic year, any replacement would not have an opportunity properly to tackle the role, and on balance the disruption caused would have a negative impact on the work of the Committee and the social life of the Hall. With this in mind I followed the convention of using the casting vote in favour of "no change" - that is to say, FOR the Motion. The Officers' reports were therefore accepted with a majority of one vote.

Any situation in which a group is divided almost exactly 50:50 has the potential for controversy. But I hope that on balance the decision we reached tonight will serve the best interests of the Hall community as a whole.

This was the first Annual General Meeting ever held in this format at Connaught Hall and the first time there has ever been an open meeting where all residents have the opportunity to ask Committee members questions and to vote on their record so far. I wrote the "Accountability" appendix to the Club Constitution in October 2009; it is this appendix that lays the foundations for the AGM in the form we used tonight. It is a practice that I and future Committees will need to adapt over the next few years to ensure it best serves the purposes for which it is intended:

(1) to remind Committee members right from the outset that they are accountable to the residents of Connaught Hall, and

(2) to provide a structured, scheduled event for residents to wield their right of holding the Committee to account.

If you were present at tonight's meeting and have any comments or suggestions about how next year's AGM might better fulfil these objectives, I would be happy to hear from you. [EDIT: residents have been using the "comment" feature on this blog post (below) to submit feedback, so please continue doing this - you can submit comments anonymously if you want; I will reply in the same comment thread.]

The reports submitted to the AGM by the elected Committee members remain available to read online here. I will publish some brief minutes from the meeting later in the week.

Defacement of posters

The following letter was sent to all residents by email today.


Dear resident

Defacement of posters

I have received a complaint about the defacement of a number of posters between November last year and the most recent case yesterday with very unpleasant comments about some members of the Residents' Club Committee.

Any defacement of displayed material is prohibited by University of London Ordinance 17. More importantly, the offensive nature of this particular vandalism constitutes personal harassment, which is grounds for immediate expulsion under the Licence Agreement and Supplementary Regulations. Actions like this are damaging to the generally very positive community atmosphere at Connaught Hall, undermine the democratic processes of election and scrutiny of the Residents' Club Committee, and make it more difficult for your elected representatives to fulfil their roles and organise a varied and exciting social programme in Hall.

This letter is an appeal for information about who might be responsible for this vandalism; I know most residents will be horrified to think that some members of our Hall community consider this behaviour to be acceptable, and I hope you will be willing to help me make sure it does not happen again. Please get in touch - anonymously if you prefer - with any information about this matter. Or if you are one of those handful of people responsible, please consider the negative impact your behaviour has on the whole Hall community and cease this immediately.

Yours faithfully


ADRIAN CLARK
Warden

Spring bulletin

The Connaught Hall spring bulletin is now available to read online here. Please take a few moments to read it as it contains important news, announcements, and dates for your diary.

Residents' Survey - the lift

Responses to Residents' Survey 7: the lift

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.

Lift needs to be sorted properly at some point


You REALLY need to sort the lift out!


Everything was working fine and the maintenance team were great but I think the lift has broken down a few too many times in the past few months.



Obviously the lift is a problem we are all aware of. I live on the third floor so I know exactly how often it breaks down! An engineer is always called to attend to the lift promptly but each time it seems that it needs more and more new parts to put it right until the next things breaks down...

Fitting a new lift is an extraordinarily expensive operation. It's also something that needs to be done outside of term time as it is likely to involve a lot of noise and mess. Connaught has needed a new lift for several years but the money simply hasn't been available. Finally, however, we think we do have funding for a new lift to be intalled later in 2010. It's not going to benefit most current residents (unfortunately) but we have heard what you said and it is going to be fixed!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Football team

Well done to the Connaught Hall football team who came runners-up in the intercollegiate halls football tournament at the weekend - especially since they managed to put a team together in 48 hours!

So - Will, Tom, Mick, Dave, George, Damini, and Ilk - congratulations!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Residents' Survey - social events

Responses to Residents' Survey 6: social events

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.

There was only very weak agreement with the statement "Social events are varied enough to appeal to everyone", in contrast to all the other questions about social and community life, which all scored very highly at Connaught Hall. Relevant comments included:

More non-alcohol based things, please.


Social side of Connaught is good although a regular weekly event, e.g. quiz night would be good.


A bigger variety of events i.e. museums, events in London, exhibitions, mini festivals, not even paid for but just organised by entertainment would be a good idea.


Too many 'party' events, maybe some variety, like movie nights?


Too many parties. All of them noisy, appealing to a certain segment of people.


The Residents' Club Committee considered these comments at their most recent meeting and plan to organise some more regular, non-alcohol based events in the next few weeks. Subscribe to this blog and look out for posters and minutes of committee meetings on the noticeboards in Hall for details.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Residents' Survey - heating

Responses to Residents' Survey 5: heating

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.

It is very cold in the afternoons because the heater is not on till the evening, which makes it very hard to study. It'd be good if the heater could be on for 1 or 2 hours in mid-afternoon just to heat up the room so that it'll be more conducive for studying (for those who are in, at least).


Poorly insulated, the curtains need to be kept closed throughout the winter to stop the room from being too cold when the heating isn't on.


When the heating is turned off in winter, during the day and at night, it gets too cold. Sitting at the desk next to the window is not possible during the day when it is colder than 5°C. At night, the duvet provided is by far not enough. Double glazing should be a standard that I would expect. Not only for matter of temperature but for environmental reasons as well.


On cold winter days, my room is freezing because of the single glazed window. Only if the radiator runs the entire night, the temperature is alright. But if, as so often, this is not the case I wake up in a freezer. Or at least a fridge.


My room is very cold during the day


It is often very cold.


The radiator does not come on sometimes and this is not good during the winter months. I think it happens in all the 4th floor rooms.


The heating turns off during the day making the room very cold
.

Could you usually open the heated system?


Continuous draft from an unpragmatic window.


The room is usually very cold during the period that the heater is switched off



It's so cold most of the time. I have to get up early in the morning and the heating is never on early enough. It's horrible taking a shower when it is so cold!



The University of London applies the same heating times across all eight intercollegiate halls of residence. This survey is the first time the same questions have been asked of students in all eight halls, so it is a good opportunity to compare how standardised/centralised policies work in different halls. I hope it will demonstrate that there are often good reasons for local variation in policies - which helps keep services responsive to the particular needs of students in that hall.

As you can see, quite a few residents commented on the cold in their free text responses (more than in other halls) and the multiple choice answers also suggested that Connaught Hall is colder than the seven other halls. I hope this will be sufficient evidence that in this case Connaught Hall is different (maybe because it is an old building with poor insulation) and that we need slightly longer heating times during the winter. I will keep you updated on progress with this.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Residents' Survey - emergencies & fire safety

Responses to Residents' Survey 4: emergencies & fire safety

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.


I only know the main entrance to escape from in a fire.


I'm sure this is the case for quite a few residents. We do ask you in your welcome pack to ensure you identify at least one alternative escape route in case the main exit route is ever blocked or unavailable for some reason. Just follow the green "running man" signs to any of the other 8 exits that can take you to a place of safety.


Too many false fire alarms!


With the number of false alarms we get, I certainly know more than one escape route. Oh yes, and my readiness to respond to fire alarm was tested and proven even at 3am in the morning (including braving the cold on the streets). All is good.


I'd propose rather less than more health and safety. I reckon it's regulations that we need a fire drill every term.



We do have to have one planned fire drill each term, although we can dispense with this if there is an evacuation in that term due to a real or false alarm. Some false alarms are unavoidable in a building with so many inhabitants but we actually have fewer false alarms than most halls of residence.

We have banned most of the items that tend to cause false alarms (and real fires) such as toasters, cooking equipment, candles, incense, etc.; and preventing fire alarms is one reason why we don't have more than a microwave in the pantry on each floor.

Anyone who accidentally causes a false alarm has to attend an interview with me and anyone who is caught deliberately causing a false alarm would normally be required to leave - so we do already take what steps we can to reduce the number of false alarms. If you have any suggestions for how we could reduce these even further, please get in touch.


Just call reception in emergency? Not really sure


Yes, call reception on extension 8200 and they will put in contact with the Bursar's Office during the working day or with the Duty Senior Member at night and at the weekend.


I actually slept through the last fire alarm (the one which was activated by someone in hall) and only found out that it had taken place when I woke up in the morning and talked to my friends. I hope there is a proper procedure for doing a headcount in case of a real emergency so that heavy sleepers like me will be looked out for too.


Headcounts don't really help since we have no way of knowing which residents are in the Hall at the time the alarm sounds; and it isn't safe for staff to check every room since this takes at least 15 minutes. The fire alarm is very loud (or at least it should be); so I would advise asking maintenance to check your sounder if it doesn't wake you up, to make sure it is working OK. If you are worried that you still would not be woken up by the fire alarm, contact me and I will arrange for a member of staff to always check your room when there is a full evacuation. I will make sure this advice is included in next year's Residents' Handbook.

Residents' Survey - juice at dinner

Responses to Residents' Survey 3: juice at dinner time

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.

Juice could be served at dinner as well as at breakfast.


Someone told me juice costs 23p per cup and that's why we can't have it at dinner time... this is rubbish (or else you need to get a new supplier)! Let's have juice at dinner time.


Why can't we have juice in the evenings?



Juice is now available at dinner time.

Residents' Survey - library lighting

Responses to Residents' Survey 2: lighting in the library

Continuing my series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the February 2010 intercollegiate halls residents' survey. A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.

The lighting in the library comes from behind such that one's body throws a shadow over the desk. It would be nice if there were lights at the desks.


The library is too dark. But I believe this is presently being looked into.


The library is far too dark to work in.


Library is very dark and not very useful.


Library: needs individual lights as discussed since ages.



New desk lamps have been installed in the library. I hope this will make it a better environment in which to study.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Residents' Survey - breakfast variety

Responses to Residents' Survey 1: breakfast variety

This is the first in a series of blog posts to repond to residents' comments in the survey conducted across all eight intercollegiate halls in February 2010.

Residents thought there was not enough variety at breakfast time -

The quality and variety of brunch (and perhaps breakfast as well) could be improved, as it's always the same tasteless pasta every brunch and the same few items everyday for breakfast and brunch.


Breakfast during the week was generally completely unsatisfactory. Those who don't like the typical English breakfast have only cornflakes and sandwich toast. This is not healthy at all.


Breakfast: - a fruit salad would be really nice and healthy. - As for variety, there isn't much else apart from cooked breakfast, which obviously isn't the healthy option (if it weren't the only proper option).


From this week, a whole new set of breakfast items will be served on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, inluding oat & banana smoothies, kedgeree, bean burritos, fruit wraps, and lots more.

Keep watching this blog for more responses to your comments in the survey. When we put all the "free text" answers together, they came to 11,545 words just for those surveys completed by Connaught Hall residents; so it will take us a while to get through them all and make what changes we can!

A summary of responses to the multiple choice questions on the survey can be seen here: Residents' Survey results. And you can filter this blog so just the survey-related posts show by clicking on "survey" in the list of labels on the right hand side.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Intercollegiate halls residents' survey

Last week, you should have received an invitation to take a survey about your experience of life at Connaught Hall. The same invitation has been sent to residents in all eight intercollegiate halls – so for the first time we will be able to compare the experiences of students in different halls (we’ve conducted surveys just like this one for several years at Connaught Hall, but this is the first time it’s been sent to residents in other halls).

Your views are important to us and I will read each and every survey that is returned by Connaught Hall residents. You can see from the minutes of Facilities Committee meetings (available online – http://facilities.connaught-hall.org.uk) that we do try to change things in light of the responses to this survey.

So please take the online survey at http://survey.connaught-hall.org.uk.

It is important that you tell us what we are doing well as well as what you think we could do better, so please do write your comments in the free text sections. Knowing what students like about the Hall helps me to argue the case for continuing those things next year (like keeping the bar open, allowing late parties, Christmas dinner, welcome events, not charging for overnight guests, allowing guests to sign in at any time of day or night, our “mediation” rather than “disciplinary” approach to many neighbour disputes, the hall website...).

If you like these things, tell us! If you don’t, then tell us how we could improve!

As I said, I will read every single one, so I will really appreciate it if you can spare five minutes to give us your feedback.

http://survey.connaught-hall.org.uk.

The closing date is 28 February.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Thank you

I was delighted to come home from work on Saturday night to be greeted by a surprise party for my birthday. Thank you to all the residents who were there and waited for me to arrive home - and to everyone who signed my birthday card. All your good wishes mean a lot to me. Thank you!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Fire alarm & evacuation 09/02/10

The evacuation in the early hours of Tuesday morning was caused by someone activating the "break glass" call point outside the common room on the third floor.

I need to be sure this will not happen again. Evacuating in the middle of the night is obviously a huge inconvenience to the entire Hall community; but frequent false alarms can also engender a "boy who cried wolf" mentality, making this a serious safety issue.

Ideally, I want the person responsible to contact me and tell me what happened; we should be able to come to an arrangement.

It is in everyone's interests that we find out what happened as quickly as possible. If you know something about what happened contact me in confidence with any information.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Applications for readmission

Remember the deadline for applying to come back to Connaught Hall next year is 9am on 8th February.

If you don't have an application form (it should have been emailed to you), contact the Intercollegiate Halls Accommodation Bureau at info.halls@london.ac.uk.

Places are strictly limited and must be allocated according to quotas set by the colleges of the University. It is very unusual for anyone to be offered a third year in Hall. Places will not be offered to residents who have not fully paid their Hall fees for term 1; nor will places usually be offered to residents with disciplinary warnings on file.

I can support applications from residents with significant medical or social reasons for wishing to stay for a second year, and those who have made a major positive contribution to the social and community life of the Hall. Please contact me well in advance if you would like to be considered for any of these categories, or if you intend to apply but you fall into one of the excluded groups in the paragraph above: you can email me at warden@connaught-hall.org.uk or attend one of my open office sessions.

Mediation-Arbitration meetings

Sometimes I receive complaints about other residents' behaviour (usually related to noise) that, whilst irritating or disturbing to the complainant, does not fall under the code of discipline. Because there is no disciplinary fix to some of these issues, they can sometimes become chronic and both sides of the dispute end up feeling frustrated.

During the last few years I have experimented with a means of dispute resolution in these cases called mediation-arbitration. In most cases we have managed to come to a satisfactory conclusion for both parties to the dispute. I just published an information sheet about this process (click here to view). Contact me or one of the Senior Members if you think a meeting like this would be useful in solving any disputes between you and other Hall residents.

Bulletin

Keep up to date with Hall news and events with the latest edition of the Bulletin: click here.

Open office sessions in February

Monday 1 February: 22.15 – 22.45
Tuesday 2 February: 13.00 – 13.45
Saturday 6 February: 17.30 – 18.15
Thursday 18 February: 21.00 – 22.00

These are open sessions in the Warden’s 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.

You can make an appointment to see me at a different time by email (warden@connaught-hall.org.uk) or at http://warden.connaught-hall.org.uk.

Parties at Connaught Hall

I need your help to ensure that the Resident's Club can continue to organise parties in the bar whilst taking care to safeguard the wellbeing and security of residents, and protect the Hall from damage and unnecessary mess.

The last two parties have left rather more mess and caused more disruption in the rest of the Hall than I would expect. The next party will be on 12 February (for Valentine's Day). The bar will close at 1.30 instead of 2.00, and I should like everyone to bear in mind:


  • Parties are held in the bar only; residents in the rest of the building who do not wish to attend the party should be able to study or sleep if they want to.
  • Only alcoholic drinks purchased at the bar may be consumed in the bar, Bell room, and garden.
  • All guests must be met at reception and signed in by a resident. Residents may be held responsible for their guests' behaviour.
  • The party ends at closing time (usually 2.00). Those who want to continue partying after that need to go out to another venue. Student rooms, the common rooms, and the steps outside the front of the building may not be used for after-parties. The Hall should be as quiet as any other night by 2.20.


I have published new guidance for bar staff and DJs for the Valentine's party:

I will review how parties are organised, the hours at which they are allowed, and how frequently parties may be held, after the Valentines' party. Please help keep mess and noise to a minimum so that I do not have to place restrictions on future parties.