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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Multicultural Students' Forum

The Warden established a new Multicultural Students' Forum (McSF) at Connaught Hall in September. The reason for establishing the McSF is to increase and expand participation in the Hall community by students from different backgrounds.

The need for a body like the proposed forum was highlighted in the residents' survey this year, to build on good work that had alrady started with our themed cultural nights:
I love the international nights where the food is themed, there are speeches, decorations, and activities. I would love to see an Eid celebration and a Diwali celebration.
Consider cultural events from India, Brazil, Turkey, Russia.
More events from a wide variety of different cultures. Make sure you have all the nations flags in your welcoming party and not ones that fit with British foreign policy only.
St David's Day ought to be recognised - the Hall was incapable of acknowledging this national celebration, though did choose to host a special meal, speeches and bar event to commemorate the Super Bowl. Following from this, it should be said that it is in the interests of the Hall that they should view a day of a patron saint, and therein a nation, to be at least on the same standing as a football match. It is clear that there is no ethnic equality in the representation of events - we have hosted Chinese New Year and a German evening, and it ought to be the case that people of every heritage are viewed equally should such a precedent be put in place.
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.

The McSF will operate as follows:

Membership will be one Senior Member; the Warden; the Secretary and the Entertainment Officer from the Residents’ Club Committee; and any resident students who are interested in the objectives of the forum. Student representatives of any and every colour, reliogion, natioanlity, and culture are welcome.

A Senior Member will provide administration for the forum.

The objectives will be -

1. To encourage participation in Hall community life by international, overseas, and ethnic minority students (IOEMS).

2. To promote and facilitate the experience of British life and customs by IOEMS – based on the idea that if you come to London to study, we should help you make the most of your time here and experience London/UK/British life to the full.

3. To broaden the range of social and cultural events in Hall so that IOEMS can share their home cultures with other residents.

4. To review and improve the way the Hall communicates with international, overseas, and ethnic minority students.

The McSF will work closely with the Residents' Club Committee. Any funding required for the organisation of events will be drawn from the Residents' Club, with agreement from the Residents' Club Committee.

I welcome any comments on this proposal, and ideas for how the McSF can best meet its objectives. Email: or

Senior Member guidance

In response to the residents' survey this year, new guidance will be issued to Senior Members for 2012-3. A selection of comments are reproduced below:

I know the Senior Member on my hall but I have never seen him interact with people on the hall outside of greetings in passing. I'm not really sure what my floor senior member does.
  Some Senior Members need to be reminded of the boundaries that ought to be maintained between students and themselves.
Most of the senior members are approachable and polite, but sadly this is not true for all of them.

Most of the Senior Members are not around much but the ones that are around are really lovely and helpful.

The new guidance for Senior Members is contained in thirteen volumes so cannot all be reproduced here, but the expectations the Warden places on Senior Members include:

The Senior Member role is a voluntary position, but it is a very substantial commitment. After your studies, we expect you to make this Senior Member role your priority: it should be more important to you than any other employment, hobbies, or social activities. We expect you to devote time, thought, and energy to this position.

Above all, Senior Members must be visible, recognisable, and approachable.

You must make face-to-face contact during term 1 with every resident on the floor to which you are assigned.

You must eat in the dining hall at least three nights per week, and always when you are the Duty Senior Member.

You must take action to deal with noise or safety problems in your area of the Hall even when you are not on call.

If you do not have leave of absence, you are required to attend all major Hall social events, meetings, and fire drills as designated by the Warden.
You must deal with all issues and complaints fairly, politely, professionally, sensitively, and in a timely manner.

It is never acceptable to behave in a rude, threatening, intimidating, coercive, abusive, flirtatious, or intimate way with residents.

Confidentiality is a cornerstone of professional behaviour, demonstrating respect for residents and their personal information, and must be observed at all times.

Never spread gossip, nor discuss in public any information to which you are privy because of your Senior Member role: if you are unsure whether you were given information as a Senior Member or as a friend, always assume it is because you are a Senior Member. This very specifically includes – but is not limited to – private information about residents and sensitive operational information, particularly where disclosure may lead to embarrassment, distress, or panic.

Allegations of favouritism are damaging to the reputation of the whole team: it is very important that as a Senior Member you are not seen to deal with your friends more favourably or leniently than other residents.

Never engage in any kind of intimate relationship with a resident, nor behave in any way that might imply physical or sexual attraction to a resident.

Never be alone with a distressed, intoxicated, or unwell resident in any room with the door closed: if you are called to see a resident in their room, take someone with you of the same sex as the resident concerned. If this is impossible, prop the door open while you meet them.
The Senior Members are required to assist the Warden with welfare & pastoral care, discipline & conflict resolution (including noise complaints), re-admissions, out-of-hours emergency cover, and community & social life including the Residents’ Club Committee and Hall bar. The Warden and Senior Members are here to offer support and guidance with problems such as academic difficulties, health or emotional issues, social concerns, and disputes between residents. The Warden and his team endeavour to deal with any problems sensitively and confidentially and will never discriminate against anyone because of their age, race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.

Please do talk to a member of the team if you want a bit of extra help and support with anything that is bothering you. No problem is too great or too small.