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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Make sure we have the right email address for you, check your spam settings, and add us to your contacts!

Several residents have not received recent important emails from the Hall.
If you have changed your email address since you applied for accommodation (or if you gave your parents' email address on your application form because you were away during the summer), please write to with your current email.

Please also check your junk / spam folder for mail from & and make sure we are on your safe senders list.

GMAIL, HOTMAIL & YAHOO USERS are almost certainly not receiving some important emails from the Hall. Please add & to your contacts today.

If you don't receive email from us, you won't be able to claim rebates on your Hall fees over Christmas, will miss payment deadlines and risk debt collection action, and miss out on social events and other opportunities available to residents.

Away from Hall duties until 8th December

I have been unwell for the past week and am on sick leave (rest prescribed by my doctor) from both my hospital job and my Warden duties until 8th December.

For welfare or disciplinary matters (including noise complaints), please contact the Senior Member for your floor, who is able to contact me or the warden of another hall for help & advice if necessary:
Ground & lower ground –;
First floor –;
Second floor –;
Third floor –;
Fourth floor –

For matters relating to the Residents’ Club Committee / entertainment / sports / events (including Christmas dinner), please email and the relevant officer of the Committee will help you.

For matters relating to the Facilities Committee, please email and Alyson Mercer will be able to help you.

For building, maintenance, safety, financial, or accommodation problems, please contact the Bursar’s Office at

If you have any suggestions or complaints about any Hall services, including catering,
write to

If you want to know about Foundation Day, please check your post pigeonhole for a ticket – if you have not yet received a ticket, it is unlikely that the University will be able to allocate you one at this late stage. In October, I emailed all 30 residents who applied for tickets; if you didn’t receive my email, please check your junk/spam folder for this email and others from

For all other matters, I will try to reply as soon as I can when I return to work.
Please accept my apologies if this causes any delays in dealing with issues.

Possible case of mumps in Hall

There has been a possible (unconfirmed) case of mumps in the Hall within the last few days.
Mumps is an infectious disease that most of us are vaccinated against in childhood. Symptoms begin with a headache & fever before swelling of the parotid glands in the cheeks.
Mumps is usually unpleasant but not serious, although rarely there can be complications including swelling of the ovaries or testicles, meningitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, nerves, joints, or heart. It is because of these possible complications that public health measures are taken when a case in confirmed.
Please read the suggestions below to help reduce your chances of catching mumps.
Mumps is spread through saliva and droplets from the nose. It is spread about as easily as the ‘flu. People with mumps remain infectious for about five days after the parotid gland swelling appears.
There is no specific treatment for mumps. Management of cases is mainly directed at preventing spread of the disease by asking patients to isolate themselves for five days and encourage strict hygiene measures. The local public health authorities must, by law, be notified of any cases.
Handwashing with liquid soap, and warm water is very important. We all should pay extra attention to washing our hands after using the toilet, before eating or handling food, and after visiting anyone who is unwell.

Coughing & sneezing easily spread infections so it is important to cover mouth and nose with a tissue, then wash your hands after disposing of the tissue.
Vaccination is important. Please check with your doctor that you have had two doses of mumps or mmr vaccine in your lifetime. If you have, your chances of catching mumps are cut by about 95%.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thanksgiving speech

I am very sorry that, due to illness, I may not be able to deliver my speech for Thanksgiving tonight. The text of my speech is below.
This is the first time we have held a Thanksgiving event at Connaught Hall. It's one of a series of celebrations from all over the world that we want to mark here at Connaught this year. We have a German culture night next Saturday, lots of Christmas activities, and a Chinese New Year celebration in January, with more to follow later.
We chose Thanksgiving for November for two reasons: First, it's celebrated by Americans and Canadians - and although the dates are different, the concept is similar. So this event will be welcomed by a sizeable number of Hall residents. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends and togetherness. Most of our North American residents don't have the option of being with their families this Thanksgiving, and that can feel lonely. So I hope our togetherness tonight can help alleviate the homesickness that they might feel at this time of year.
The other reason we wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving is this: if you take away the historical context of native Americans helping settlers in a bleak winter on a new continent, the concept of stopping for a moment to give thanks for the things that really matter to us is universal. We all depend on the support of others. Yet it's so easy for us to take our family, friends, homes, and safety for granted; and so I feel it's important that sometimes we stop and say thank you to the people who support and sustain us in life.
At times like this we should also think about our neighbours who might need more help or support from us. Whether they are fellow residents here in hall, students at college, others in our local community, or even farther afield, can we do more to make others happier and safer?
So, in closing, I hope you will join me in taking up this challenge: to think now about those who have helped us and cared for us, the things that sustain us, and to say thank you for them - where we can, say thank you TO them. And tonight, let’s consider what more we can do to make the lives of others in our community happier so that next Thanksgiving, maybe someone will be saying “thank you” to you.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Consultation on banning subwoofers

Subwoofers are special speakers that specifically output sound in the 20-200 Hz range. These are very low bass sounds.
Sounds in the 20-200 Hz range transmit through walls, floors, and ceilings much more than higher frequencies. The overall volume of music might be reasonably low, but the bass will still cause a vibration in rooms next door, above, and below.
For this reason, subwoofers will be banned at Connaught Hall by a change in the Supplementary Regulations from 1st September 2012. Subwoofers will then be at risk of confiscation if they are found in a room subject to a noise complaint.
I should like to consult current residents on whether this ban should be introduced earlier - from 3rd January 2012.
It may be that raising awareness (through this consultation) that subwoofers can cause problems for your neighbours will be enough for this year.
What do you think? Should we ban subwoofers from January?
Please respond either by a comment on this post or by email to

Noise complaints, November 2011

I have received several complaints in the past few weeks about noise. Most of these complaints relate to loud conversations in the corridor, and sometimes inside bedrooms, rather than music.

For your own benefit and that of your neighbours, please take a few moments to read section on noise (pp 38-9) in the Residents’ Handbook. Being unable to sleep or work when you need to can make you annoyed and stressed, and can seriously impact on a person’s quality of life. I know you do not want to inflict those feelings on your neighbours.


Noise travels further than you think, so talk quietly in corridors; don’t run or shout. It only takes one loud shriek down the corridor in the early hours of the morning to wake up all your neighbours. They don’t thank you for it. So please give extra consideration to how loud your
conversations might be between 11pm and 7am.

The walls between rooms are thin; and the floors and ceilings transmit sound very easily. Please make a conscious effort to think about your neighbours if you have visitors in your room at night.

The best place to meet friends at night is the common room, since there are no bedrooms nearby.

Our doors make a bang when they close. Please try to pull your door closed quietly at night so you don’t wake up your neighbours.

If you are being disturbed by noise, follow the advice given in the attachment for reporting the problem: tell someone straight away – so we can deal with the noise immediately – then send an email to make sure I get to hear about it.

I know that none of you is intentionally noisy, so I hope this gentle reminder will be enough to make you think again about your neighbours and make sure they are not disturbed.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Response to complaint about noise & diversity issues

I have received several replies by email and on Facebook to this post about a complaint made in a response to my "two quick questions" survey for November:

The anonymous complainant said:
"I would recommend more strict enforement of after hour silence and
have a corridor monitor on most nights. The balance is too much towards
having mindless fun and this needs to be changed by the weak leadership. Also
residents of black and ethnic minority background needs to be more enfranchised
and protected, maybe you could have a diversity officer on the student

I have considered this complaint in light of my own observations and the replies to my previous post. My response follows.
  • There is no evidence that the overall balance in Hall is too far towards recreation at the expense of rest and/or study.
  • There can be times when noise causes disturbance and disruption, but we have a well established, effective policy for dealing with this, set out at page 38 of the Residents' Handbook (
  • Senior Members have responsibility for monitoring noise levels in their designated areas of the building. Moreover, sll residents are encouraged to discuss noise problems at an early stage with their neighbours, facilitied by the Warden or a Senior Member if they fell unconfortable doing this alone.
  • I believe that the introduction of student "noise monitors" on every corridor would be divisive and insidious, bringing more harm than benefit to the Hall community.
  • In the last three years, no complaints have been made about failures to protect the rights and interests of residents from black or ethnic minority backgrounds. Of course any such complaint would be dealt with as a most serious and urgent matter, and this responsibility would rest with me as the Warden. I am proud of our record on equality and diversity. We are the only intercollegiate hall to display an equality statement on public noticeboards:
  • The Constitution of the Residents' Club already requires the Clerk to the Club & Senior Treasurer "to ensure that the Club is operated in such a way that promotes equal opportunities and without discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, creed, disability, political belief, social class, or sexual orientation". See
  • I am not persuaded by the argument for a whole new post to monitor diversity issues but it may not be unreasonable to require the President or Secretary to take on a proactive diversity promotion role. I will consult with the Residents' Club Committee on this.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cultural diversity & noise complaint in November "two quick questions" response

An early response to November's "two quick questions" says:
I would recommend more strict enforement of after hour silence and have a corridor monitor on most nights. The balance is too much towards having mindless fun and this needs to be changed by the weak leadership. Also residents of black and ethnic minority background needs to be more enfranchised and protected, maybe you could have a diversity officer on the student council.
There are some very concerning issues here. Unfortunately, the respondent has not left his/her email address, but if there are problems in the Hall with respecting cultural diversity and/or persistent, troublesome noise violations, it is very important these are properly reported so they can be acted upon.
Please email in confidence if you can add more details about these complaints.
If you haven't yet answered my two quick questions for November, you can do so here:

Saturday, 5 November 2011

German night: 3rd December 2011

On 3rd December at Connaught Hall we are hosting a celebration of Germany and German culture. This will be the second in a series of international cultural evenings, which start with American Thanksgiving on 24th November.

We need help! What should we organise?

I have asked the caterers to draw up a German-themed menu. Your suggestions for this will be very welcome. We have some German flags: I envisage having British, German, and EU flags
together on the stage. What other decorations could we have? Is there any particular music we should choose? Any traditional clothes, activities, or games? The bar will stock up on German beers but are there any other drinks we should have?

Post your ideas as a comment on my blog post email me, or tweet your suggestions including #connaughtgermannight in your tweet.

We will also need volunteers to help set up on the day, so if you have some free time on 3rd December, your help with decorating, etc., will be really appreciated.

Thanksgiving: 24 November 2011

This year, for the first time at Connaught Hall, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Whilst the dates and traditions are slightly different for American and Canadian Thanksgiving, the underlying values are similar so it seems sensible to include both celebrations in ours.

We need help! What should we organise?

I have asked the caterers to have an American-themed (ideally traditional Thanksgiving) menu on Thursday 24th November. We have some patriotic North American decorations and flags – perhaps better suited to Independence Day, but we can use them nonetheless as a sign to other residents that this is an American celebration. I envisage having British, American, and Canadian flags together on the stage.

Is there any particular music we should choose? Any traditional activities, games, or readings? Should there be a speech? The bar will stock up on American beers and whisky but are there any other drinks we should have?
Please post a reply to this blog post with your ideas, tweet them using #connaughtthanksgiving, post your ideas on the Hall Facebook page, or email