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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Newspaper subscriptions

Starting on Monday 17th October, we shall receive the following newspapers to be put out in reception for residents to read in reception (please don't take them away):

  • The Times (Mon-Sat)
  • The Guardian (Mon-Sat)
  • The Independent (Mon-Sat)
  • The Sun (Mon-Sat)
  • City A.M. (Mon-Fri)
  • The Daily Telegraph (Sat only)
  • The Sunday Times (Sun)
  • The Sunday Telegraph (Sun)
  • The Observer (Sun)
  • Independent on Sunday (Sun)

The newspapers are provided by the Residents' Club using the £30/year subscription that all residents pay. Please send any queries or suggestions to committee@connaught-hall.org.uk.


I have also asked if we can receive free deliveries of The Evening Standard, Metro, and Camden New Journal but these are not yet confirmed.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Thank you to the Committee of 2010-1

On Thursday we will elect a new Committee to manage the Connaught Hall Residents' Club.

But before we get stuck into plans for a Hallowe'en party, Christmas events, restoring the newspaper subscriptions, and everything else our new Committee will want to do, I want to stop and say a great big thank you to James "Willy" Wilson, Michelle Ansah, Tom Stewart, Zac Zurybida, and Amin Yazdi who served on the Committee last year.

Zac and Michelle, though they no longer live in Hall, came back this month to help organise the fabulous welcome party on Saturday night. Being no longer resident, they had no obligation to do so but their dedication brought them back - and we must thank them especially for this.

As sports officer last year, Amin invested in equipment that residents can borrow from reception to play tennis, football, badminton, and other sports. Thank you, Amin.

Tom was the Club Treasurer last year and was appointed Bar Manager in June. He inherited a Club with a difficult financial position so his job as Treasurer has not been an easy one; but he successfully reined-in the Club's spending and although the Club still faces financial challenges this year, it should be much easier for the new Treasurer to build up the Club's depleted reserves. Tom took an interest in all aspects of the Residents' Club last year - not just the strict Treasurer's remit of accounts and balances. He has made an excellent start as Bar Manager, as is evident from the highly successful "grand opening" night and welcome party.
James has not been a good President: he has been an outstanding President. Again, he inherited a tough job with unique pressures - both internal and external - on the Club and, indeed, on the entire social fabric of the Hall. He has led by consensus; faced every challenge with vigour and good humour; and truly been a champion of this Hall's values, spirit, and community. Despite being short of money, his Committee organised events and parties throughout the year: every one was a success.
So finally, to James and Tom: thank you!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Freshers 2011

So, freshers' month is pretty much finished for another year. I hope everyone has enjoyed the events we have organised and already met lots of friends here in Hall - but although it's the end of freshers', it's also just the beginning of the rest of the year.
I certainly have enjoyed meeting everyone. This has been a very good-natured and friendly start, so I am looking forward to a good year. I have had the chance to meet many residents in the relative quiet of our Sunday afternoon teas and Senior Member floor receptions; seen and shared the fun of the bar grand opening and last night's excellent welcome party (thank you, Tom, James, Zac!); and served hundreds of glasses of wine at our two welcome dinners. And I always consider it a great privilege to have the attention of the whole Hall for my speech at the welcome buffet.
Thank you for making this one of the best "welcome" months I can remember. It's going to be a great year in Hall.

You can see all the photos from our 2011 freshers' events here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/connaughthall/tags/welcome2011/

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Welcome speech - delivered 4th October 2011

Good evening.

If we haven’t already met, I’m Adrian Clark, the Warden.

Let’s thank the kitchen staff for all their hard work preparing tonight's special dinner.

And first of all, congratulations on getting into a University of London college and on picking the best hall of residence in the University!


We are going to spend something like the next 5904 hours of our lives living together here. If for some reason, we don’t get on, that is going to seem like one heck of a long time. But if we get it right, it will seem like no time at all before we’re packing up our things ready for the summer vacation. So we have to make the most of the 35 weeks we have together – and make this one of the best years of our lives.

My job in the next few minutes is (1) to welcome you to the Hall and introduce the staff, (2) remind us all about the compromises we have to make living so close to one another, and (3) explain how we can all together ensure that not my Hall, but our Hall, retains its reputation as the best hall of residence in London.

So firstly, on behalf of the University of London and all the staff, allow me formally to welcome you to the Hall. I hope you are already calling Connaught Hall “home”. And I sincerely wish you a very happy and successful year and look forward to the pleasure of meeting every one of you.

The people you really need to know in Hall are Harriet Harold and Hafsi Bakari, our Deputy and Assistant Bursars.... they look after the day-to-day management of everything from food to telephones, cleaning to fixing things, and finance to accommodation problems. They are in the office 8 till 6 every day, Monday to Friday, and you can just knock and walk in any time you need them. Over the last few years, some functions like payment and room allocations have been centralised to the much larger offices at International Hall and Hughes Parry Hall; but Harriet and Hafsi will make sure you know who to contact if they can’t help you directly.

I have introduced myself already. As the Warden, I am responsible for your welfare and well-being in the broadest sense: physical, mental, social, and academic. I also look after the Hall’s community and social life, discipline, and conflict-resolution. Most of my work as Warden takes place in the evenings and at weekends; when I’m not Wardening, I am a specialist doctor in accident & emergency medicine. I live here in the Hall alongside you, and I’m always happy for anyone to approach me – whether it’s about a problem or just for a general chat – whenever I’m in my office or in a common area like here in the dining hall.

Five student Senior Members assist me in looking after things here. They are Tom, Alyson, John, Ilk, and Zack. They are all either postgraduate students or mature students within the university and please, please feel free to approach them about any problems or for a chat any time you see them. One of the Senior Members in on call at nights and weekends, to help with any emergencies while the office is closed.


I’m going to move on now to talk about those compromises I mentioned if we’re all going to get on nicely.

Everyone in this room is, by any definition, an adult. We are a community of adults – and fairly bright adults at that. That means we can all expect a right to self-determination – but that right is limited by an absolute duty to respect one another: our beliefs, our needs, our possessions, and our idiosyncrasies.

It’s traditional in welcome speeches like this for wardens to go through a long list of rules and the terrible consequences that might ensue if anyone breaks them. But we have the Residents’ Handbook for that, and it’s hardly a welcoming “welcome” speech if it’s full of threats and “don’t-you-ever”s. So I will mention only two disciplinary issues.

First: the walls, floors, and ceilings in this building are thin and far from sound proof. Noise is the most common reason for conflict and unhappiness in Hall. Please, please let’s think about our neighbours: keep music and television volume turned down low, especially at night; don’t run screaming down the corridor at 3 o clock in the morning; and if our neighbour asks us to be quieter, let’s respond politely and try our best to help them.

Second, we all have to remember the importance of fire safety. We have an average of 1.3 REAL fires at Connaught Hall every single year. So let’s make sure we know how to get out if there is an emergency; and be prepared to use an escape route different from the main staircase. If the alarm sounds, get out straight away. And don’t let any of us mess around with smoke detectors or fire extinguishers. Covering up smoke detectors or moving and discharging fire extinguishers could endanger every single person living here.


The third and final task I set myself at the beginning of this speech was to explain how we can make this year one to remember.

We all have a contribution to make to our community here in Hall.

Some of us are very sociable and love meeting people; those sorts will be at every party and visible in the Hall throughout the year. We need people like that. Their liveliness keeps the social life of the Hall afloat. But that is not the only way of contributing.

We need observant people who notice when things are broken and report them so they can be repaired.

We need sensitive people who can listen when their neighbour has had a bad day.

We need organised people who read the handbook and posters, to explain the rules and spread news to their less organised friends.

We need enthusiastic people who will share their hobbies and interests with us.

Whoever you are, you are one of these people. We need you.

We are very lucky to have our bar here at Connaught. Out of eight intercollegiate halls, all of which used to have bars of their own, ours in the only one left – the others have all been shut down. I fully support our bar and value the crucial role it plays in the social life of the Hall. You don’t have to be a drinker to enjoy the bar: they sell soft drinks, too! Please make the most of it, use the bar sensibly, and don’t give anyone any excuse for shutting it down.

The bar is run by the Residents’ Club Committee, who also organise most of the big social events in Hall. You will be asked to elect a new committee next Thursday. And I would really encourage you all to consider standing for election to one of the committee posts: it’s an excellent point to have on your CV, adds a lot of weight to your application to come back to Connaught Hall next year, and is a guaranteed way of getting to meet lots of people in Hall. Come and ask me about it.

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 and contract staff and make suggestions about catering, cleaning, maintenance, and that sort of thing. The Resident’s Handbook tells you how to get involved in the Facilities Committee.

The chief message is this – we must all get involved in whatever way we can. Not everyone can do or wants to do everything, but there is something for everyone here. Please make the most of it. 

To conclude: this is a great place to live and we’re going to have a really good time together. We are a diverse community but we share much in common. We must all strive to make our neighbour’s time here as happy as our own. We are never alone: there is always someone who can help.

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.

Please remember to check the Residents’ Handbook; please come up and have a chat with the staff and Senior Members tonight; and please do visit the bar after dinner.

Now, I’d like to propose a toast to every one of us and a very happy, successful year ahead.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Weekend round-up

1. Televisions / common rooms / sofas

The TV in the Bamforth Room has good reception of BBC ONE via the FreeSat receiver. Put the TV on AV input 2 and use the EPG on the FreeSat box to find one of the BBC ONE channels with a good picture.

The TV in the Bell Room has good reception of ITV1 through the terrestrial aerial. Select P3.

I have asked for a TV engineer to be called out to get all channels working on both TVs again.

During this term the Hall will buy some new sofas for reception and the sofas currently in reception will be moved to the common rooms. We also have some more comfortable chairs coming this week for the Bell Room.


2. Drinking water

The water fountains were removed from reception and the dining hall on Friday. I have asked the kitchen to put out jugs of water at meal times, and will find out about replacing the water fountains this week.


3. The garden / smoking / drinking alcohol

Please remember that smoking is only allowed in the designated smoking area, not in the rest of the garden. Smoking too close to the building or under the shelter outside the bar causes smoke to go into rooms facing the garden, which isn't very nice for non-smokers!

The Supplementary Regulations also say that only alcohol bought from the Hall bar may be consumed in the garden and Bell Room from 19.00 to 23.00. This is a licensing issue; breaking this rule could lead to the licence being revoked for our bar.


4. Newspapers

Traditionally, the Club subscribes to a number of daily newspapers which are placed the reception lobby for residents to read. At present, the Club has insufficient cash funds available to pay these subscriptions for September and early October.

Newspapers will be re-started when the Club receives this term's instalment of £10/resident/term subscriptions from the Bursar's Office.


5. Fire drill

There will be a fire drill on Monday evening.

When you hear the fire alarm:
  • Evacuate the building immediately.
  • Close all doors and windows behind you.
  • Leave by the shortest route.
  • Do not use the lift.
  • Assemble on the pavement opposite the Hall.

Follow the green exit signs to find your nearest escape route (not necessarily via the main stairs/reception). Hall staff will help you.

Remember it is possible that there may be a real fire alarm on the day, so for your own safety never ignore the alarm because you assume it is a drill.

It is a condition of residence that you participate in fire drills. If the total evacuation time is too long, more drills will be held over the next few weeks – so don’t let everyone else down!

Please contact me or the Bursar’s Office if you may need assistance to evacuate the building.


6. Events next week

Tue 04/10 - Welcome buffet 6-7pm in the dining hall

Wed 05/10 - Floor party for fourth floor, hosted by John

Thu 06/10 - Floor party for third floor, hosted by Alyson

Fri 07/10 - Floor party for first floor, hosted by Zack

Sat 08/10 - Welcome party 8pm-2am in the bar

Sun 09/10 - Postgraduate reception (second floor), hosted by Tom

Mon 10/10 - Floor party for ground & lower-ground floors and second-floor undergraduates, hosted by Ilk

Saturday, 1 October 2011

FAQ: Residents' Handbook

Please remember to check our Hall Handbook (http://handbook.connaught-hall.org.uk) if you have any queries about Connaught Hall that are not answered in the FAQs section of my blog (http://connaughthall.blogspot.com/search/label/faq).


Foundation Day

As a Hall Warden, I enjoy leading a contingent of residents to Senate House on Foundation Day. Before we leave Connaught Hall, those of us attending the ceremony get together for a special meal and a drink then walk across to Senate House as a group. The residents who request tickets are always a diverse bunch and the evening is therefore a time when they socialise with a completely different group from usual.

At the presentation ceremony, we learn about the extraordinary and often inspiring lives of the graduands. But it is the reception afterwards that is really special for the students: the excitement is palpable when the Chancellor is approaching our group, yet everyone says afterwards how much Her Royal Highness put them at ease and was so interested in what they had to say. For most student residents, both home and international, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event; many can hardly wait until the official photographs are available to buy online!

Everyone who attends loves the excuse to dress up and look their best; we meet people we might otherwise never talk to; and the presence of the Chancellor makes it an evening the students remember forever.

Residents' Club finances & newspapers

In the last few years, the Residents’ Club has been hit with a number of costly repair bills for the Bar cellar as well as losses on some overseas trips and an increase in the rate of VAT. Last year (2010-1), the elected Committee worked hard to increase the Club's reserves but mid-year had to repair the cellar again, using up all the funds they had managed to save.

Consequently, the Club has very little in the bank at the start of this year (less than £1000).
It is vital that by the end of this year, the Club's reserves are at least £3000. This means most of the subscription income not already accounted for by fixed costs must be saved, and the Bar must return a profit. These will be challenges for this year's elected Residents' Club Committee.

Traditionally, the Club subscribes to a number of daily newspapers which are placed the reception lobby for residents to read. At present, the Club has insufficient cash funds available to pay these subscriptions for September and early October.

Newspapers will be re-started when the Club receives this term's instalment of £10/resident/term subscriptions from the Bursar's Office.