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Monday, 27 February 2012

Please do not cover smoke detectors

Since we came back to Hall for this second term, I have dealt with three cases of residents covering the smoke detector in their room.

The Connaught Hall Supplementary Regulations state:

Your Licence Agreement requires that you observe all fire safety rules… In particular, we consider:
(a) the covering of smoke detectors to conceal smoking or cooking,
(b) tampering with fire extinguishers, and
(c) deliberate false activation of the fire alarm
to be serious disciplinary offences which in some cases may lead to immediate expulsion from the Hall.

Interfering with our fire safety precautions puts everyone in the Hall at risk. As I said in my welcome speech in October, we have a real fire at Connaught Hall almost every year; two in the last ten years have been serious. It is only because we take your safety so seriously that no one has been hurt in these incidents.

The minimum penalty for covering a smoke detector is a final written warning. The maximum
penalty is immediate expulsion plus a fine of £250. Everyone has now been warned about the seriousness with which I view interference with fire safety equipment.

No further warnings will be issued: from 1 March 2012, anyone found to have covered a smoke detector will be required to leave the Hall within 48 hours.

Help protect yourself from drink spiking

There have been several reports recently of students’ drinks being “spiked” by the addition of hypnotic drugs to the drink that can cause severe drowsiness and amnesia. Incidents have been alleged in local clubs and bars popular with students, venues in west London, and in one case inside one of the intercollegiate halls.

Fortunately, in those cases reported by residents in the intercollegiate halls, no one has been harmed and nothing bad has happened to them whilst they were under the influence of the hypnotic drug; but drink spiking is sometimes a technique used by criminals who may abduct, rob, or assault their victim whilst they are drowsy and leave the victim with no memory of what happened.

Drink spiking is still a rare occurrence. But you can protect yourself and your friends from becoming victims by being aware of the risks and following the advice below.

·       Keep your drink in your hand instead of on a surface.
·       Consider sticking to bottled drinks and holding your thumb over the opening between sips.
·       Keep an eye on your friends' drinks.
·       Never leave your drink unattended.
·       Never accept a drink from anyone you don't know or trust.
·       Never take a drink from a jug or bottle that is left out on the bar.
·       Don't share or exchange drinks, or drink leftover drinks.
·       When possible, drink from a bottle rather than a glass because it is more difficult to spike a drink in a bottle.
·       Stay away from situations that you do not feel comfortable with.
·       If you go on a date with someone you don't know, tell a friend or relative where you will be and what time you will be back.
·       Don't give away too much information to anyone you have just met, such as your address.
·       If you suspect your drink may have been spiked:
o Tell someone you trust – in Hall this should be the Duty Senior Member; outside, it might be the pub landlord, bar manager, or a close friend.
o If you feel unwell, someone you trust should take you to A&E at the nearest hospital and tell the medical staff that you think your drink has been spiked.
o Report it to the police as soon as you can. They will need to take blood and urine samples. Most drugs leave the body within 72 hours of being taken (the date-rape drug GHB leaves the body within 12 hours), so it's important to be tested as soon as possible.

Once again, please be reassured that in the cases reported by intercollegiate halls residents, no one has been harmed. But we do advise you to take the steps above to protect yourself from possible drink spinking.

Please share any information you have about drink spiking in local venues so we can build up an idea of where this is taking place and help protect other students: report any incidents to the police immediately and to me at the next opportunity.

The Senior Members and I are available in Hall as always to discuss
any concerns you might have about this or any other issues.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Today, 6th February, is the 60th anniversary of HM The Queen's accession to the Throne. Her Majesty is only the second British monarch to reign for so long (Queen Victoria was the first).

The Queen has released a Diamond Jubilee message:

I hope we will all join in celebrating 60 years of the Queen's reign and thanking Her Majesty for so many years of service to her people in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

The focus of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations will be around the long weekend of 2-5 June, with parties and events taking place across the country. Look out for an announcement of how we will be celebrating at Connaught Hall!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Facebook policy

My policy on residents as Facebook friends:

I will always accept friend requests from residents if you want to add me, but I will never send an add request to a resident. 

That leaves the choice completely yours; nobody is made to feel uncomfortable, nobody feels obliged to accept, and nobody is discriminated against by not getting a request from me.

(If you're a future resident - i.e. I don't know you yet - you're still very welcome to add me, but please drop me a quick message with your add request, telling me that you're coming to Connaught, as I don't accept those completely random friend requests that we all get!)

I will also never "un-friend" current residents; nor will I be offended if you "un-friend" me. I may have to tidy up my contacts from time-to-time and clear friends who left the Hall more than 12 months ago.

My Facebook: