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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...