Search This Blog

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.