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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Getting on with your neighbours

Getting on with your neighbours

Last term went really well: the Senior Members and I received maybe four or five noise complaints in the whole three months of the term.

This term, in the first four weeks, we have received 14 noise complaints. I cannot understand why there has been such an increase in dissatisfaction with noise levels but the present situation is clearly unacceptable for many of you – and therefore for me – and things must change.

First, some advice:

Respect others’ needs for quiet time: they may want to sleep or study at different times from you.

Think about a time when you really wanted to sleep or had a coursework deadline and needed to study but you were prevented from doing so. It makes you annoyed, upset and stressed, and can seriously impact on your quality of life. You are all pleasant, normal people and I am certain that none of you want to inflict those feelings on your neighbours. So don’t!

Agree on quiet times with your neighbours: you might decide between yourselves that a bit of loud-ish music is ok at certain times at the weekend, for example, but at other times you should both try to be really quiet.

Noise travels further than you think, so talk quietly in corridors; and don’t run or shout in hallways or stairwells.

Remember the walls between rooms are thin; and the floors and ceilings transmit sound very easily (most noise complaints are about the room above or below). Most of us underestimate how much noise is generated just by having a few people in a room even without music, so please make a conscious effort to think about your neighbours if you have visitors in your room at night.

Our doors are heavy and have closer mechanisms to comply with fire safety regulations; so they make a bang when they close. Please try to pull your door closed quietly and pull the handle down so the lock doesn’t click, especially at night so you don’t wake up your neighbours.

In the garden keep noise down at all times: loud conversations in the garden can be heard in rear-facing rooms on the fourth floor! The garden is closed between 11.00 pm and 8.00 am – no one should be in the garden between these times at all.

Be polite and try to help if your neighbour knocks on your door and asks you to quieten down; next time it might be you asking for quiet!

You must be quiet 23.00 to 07.00: no noise at all should be audible from outside your room between these times. But just because it’s 8.00 pm doesn’t mean it’s ok to
make as much noise as you like. People need to study in the evenings and there isn’t room in the library for everybody.

Second, a warning:

Starting today, until the end of this term:

Anyone who is the subject of a single noise complaint will be required to attend a formal disciplinary interview and will not be offered another year in Hall next year, regardless of any other factors such as committee membership or medical problems.

A second complaint, if verified by a member of staff hearing the noise, will trigger another interview and an automatic fine of £40.

After a third complaint I will consider a higher level fine and/or expulsion from the Hall.

If you are being disturbed by noise:

Between 11.00 pm and 8.00 am: phone reception to report the problem. Reception will usually call the room making noise and ask them to be quiet. If it’s still noisy 10 minutes after your initial complaint, phone reception again and ask them to contact the Duty Senior Member.

Please don’t suffer in silence and wait until the next day to send an email about the noise: it is difficult for me to take disciplinary action unless a member of staff has verified how loud the noise was and confirmed which room it was coming from, so if you never report the noise while you can actually hear it, my ability to help you is very greatly reduced.

Afterwards, jot a quick email to to make sure your complaint is logged – sometimes if the receptionist deals with a noise complaint successfully, they don’t report the complaint to me, so I will only reliably hear about the problem if you also send an email.

Between 6.00 pm and 11.00 pm, Mon-Fri, and all day at weekends: knock on the person’s door and ask them to be quieter. Everyone has been asked in this email to respond politely to such requests. If they are rude or threatening in any way (it is very, very rare for this to happen), I will take that extremely seriously and they may be asked to leave the Hall. If they are still noisy 10 minutes later, phone reception and ask them to contact the Duty Senior Member.

Afterwards, jot a quick email to to make sure your complaint is logged – I will only reliably hear about the problem if you send an email.

Between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm, Mon- Fri: knock on the person’s door and ask them to be quieter. If they are still noisy 10 minutes later, phone reception and ask them to contact the Bursar’s Office.

Afterwards, jot a quick email to to make sure your complaint is logged – I will only reliably hear about the problem if you send an email.

If you are being persistently disturbed by the same person, go to the online form at and submit a noise complaint, giving as much detail as you possibly can. Depending on the times and level of noise, I may decide that disciplinary action is the only approach, or I may suggest that we convene a mediation-arbitration meeting to help you agree on quiet times and acceptable noise levels with your neighbour. See attachment for information about mediation-arbitration meetings.

Finally, a reminder of the rules about noise: (you have all signed to say you agree to abide by these rules by accepting your Licence Agreement)

The Intercollegiate Halls of Residence Licence Agreement says:

9.3 You must behave in a responsible and proper manner at all times with consideration for all other students, staff, local residents, and members of the public generally. Behaving in an aggressive, violent, abusive, insulting or threatening manner towards anyone in the Hall is not acceptable and is a disciplinary offence, which may lead to expulsion. It is expected that every student should be able to study or rest without disturbance from others at any time, and particularly from 11.00 pm. to 7.00 am.

The Connaught Hall Supplementary Regulations state:

7. You must make no noise audible outside your room between 11 pm and 7 am. Excessive noise is not allowed at any time. You can report noise problems to or use the online form at

The Connaught Hall Residents’ Handbook says:

Noise disturbance generally creates the most dissatisfaction with Hall life, but every student should be able to study or rest without unreasonable disturbance from others at any time. Remember that other students may want to study or sleep at different times than you, and try to respect their needs for quiet time.

You are expected to make no noise audible from outside your room between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am. This rule is not negotiable. Excessively loud music and other noise are not allowed at any time of day. Residents — or their guests — who are unable to adhere to these guidelines will face disciplinary action and possible removal from the Hall.

If your neighbour(s) are making too much noise, please try to talk to them yourself
first. If this is ineffective, call reception and ask for the on-call Duty Officer (a member of the Warden’s team). We can help you a lot more if we actually hear the noise for ourselves and speak directly to the person responsible at the time. It is much more difficult if you wait until the next day to tell us about it!

The Warden’s team is responsible for dealing with noise complaints. If you find your neighbour(s) to be persistently noisy, talk to the Warden or a Senior Member, email, or use the form at

It is regrettable that I have had to write to everyone about this. I really hope that having been reminded of the need to be considerate of your neighbours, everyone will get on a little better with one another and I shall not have to proceed to formal disciplinary action.