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Sunday, 31 March 2013

Cultural sensitivity

"I feel that some cultures/countries where students come from are not well understood. Inadvertently some actions/events, though conducted with the best intentions, can be slightly insulting. Its not a very big or serious issue, just hope that such misunderstandings would not happen too often (though mostly ignored, it can be slightly irritating at times)."

I should really like to have some more specific feedback on this. Cultural sensitivity is something that I take very seriously indeed, so I sincerely apologise if there have been examples of a failure to respect different cultures or beliefs in Hall. We have not had any direct feedback to tell us where we might have gone wrong here: we need to know more so I can ensure we don;t see a similar comment in next year's survey!

Please contact me at or come to one of my open office sessions to help me understand what has gone wrong. If your concerns relate to my actions and you don't feel comfortable approaching me about it (although I can assure you I am very happy to receive constructive criticism), then email the Hall Manager at and ask her to discus the matter with me or forward your email with the name and email address removed.

Thanks for your feedback.

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here: 

Incorrect contact details

I was sorry to read these comments from the residents' survey:

I have never been able to use the email address for [catering] feedback. Apparently, it does not exist.
When I tried to ring the finance office the numbers were incorrect and I could not reach them.

Most of the contact details you might need for the Hall and the University of London are at suggestions, comments, and complaints (including catering ones) can be sent to

This poster explains how to contact us for different kinds of problems:

If you find any of the contact details on our website, the poster above, or in the Residents' Handbook are incorrect, please email the suggestions address as soon as possible so we can update them.

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here: 

Information deficit?

We do try very hard at Connaught Hall to keep everyone informed of what's going on, and to provide high quality, accessible information about our facilities and services. Some of the responses to this year's survey, however, demonstrate that we are still not quite reaching everyone with the information they need.

When I first arrived at the hall, nobody told me that there was a good lift which I could use. So I lifted my own luggage to my floor (The lift only goes to the second top floor, but I live on the top floor). No guidance of facilities or introduction to the hall was provided, maybe because I moved in the second term. Still, I think every resident would like to receive helpful guidance and information upon their arrival. Besides, there were not many welcome arrangements.

More explanation about the hall, especially for overseas students.
The events have been thoroughly organised, although I think promotion could have been done further in advance (and not just on Facebook). 

Our Residents' Handbook is the official source of information about the Hall: I wrote and designed the Handbook myself and update it every year. It does contain a large section aimed at international students. But it does not mention the goods lift: I will correct this for the start of the next academic year. We shall also put up directions to the goods lift in reception on the main arrival days next year, and provide instructions on how to use it.

There is alsway more information being published here on my blog (, on our Facebook page (, Twitter ( and more recently, Instagram, Google+, and our YouTube channel, ConnaughtTV.

It's clear, however, that information in the Handbook is often simply not read. Most of my blog posts only ever reach around 100 views, so are obviously not reaching most residents; not everyone is on Facebook (especially students from China, where Facebook is banned); and only a minority of residents follow our Twitter profile. Instagram and Google+ even more obscure. So how do we get information out? More emails are not the answer: most of us receive too many emails already.

So  today I have designed new "tweetboard" and "tweet-tips" posters:

These laminated signs will be prominently displayed in reception and frequently updated with very short updates, answers, tips, advice, and guides to our facilities. It's Twitter for people who aren't on Twitter.

During the first few weeks of term 1, the tweet-tips board will cover all the important rules and facilities in Hall - so if you see that board every day, you will barely even need to read the Handbook!

The advantages of tweet-sized bits of information are:

  • more memorable and digestible than long passages of text;
  • large text will be clearly visible so it's difficult to miss announcements;
  • easier for us to update very frequently without designing a whole new poster each time;
  • every "tweet" will be dated;
  • once the initial outlay for the full-colour, laminated templates is made, the plain text signs will be very cheap to print.
I hope these new posters will help get information to those people who are currently missing out.

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here: 

"if you are physically abusive, you should be thrown out of the hall"

We received this comment in the residents' survey:
"if you are physically abusive, you should be thrown out of the hall on a zero-tolerance basis."
I am really very concerned about this comment, since it implies that someone has been physically abusive in Hall this year. We do have clear regulations about this:

Licence Agreement -- 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.
I have also written a document that explains the various University and Hall rules and regulations around discrimination, bullying, and harassment:

In general, if there is sufficient evidence that someone has behaved abusively or violently in Hall, they will be removed from the Hall immediately (in the case of guests) or within 24 hours (in the case of residents).

If the person who submitted this comment remains concerned about an incident of abuse, bullying, or harassment, he or she should contact me in confidence as soon as possible.

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here: 

Some of the good feedback from this year's survey

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here:

Here are some of the positive things people said about Connaught Hall in this year's  survey. The rest of my posts about the survey will be addressing negative comments, criticism, and suggestions for improvement, so I'd like to get some of the nice things out there, too!

Cost / value for money 

I could not budget for anymore - but Connaught is amazing and worth every penny

Welcome arrangements

The welcoming arrangements were great, handing out free food and drinks to keep everyone loosen up and get comfortable whilst socialising. Great job!
Connaught Hall, to me has become a home away from home. Everything about it from the start to now has been amazing. It has played an important part in settling me down in London. Hats off to the warden and the senior members for being so friendly and cooperative and arranging so many events throughout the year. How can i be homesick when i am already living at home? :)
I immediately felt incredibly welcome thanks to the warden's team and other residents already in halls.
I thought it was extremely welcoming. The Warden greeted me with a big smile and introduced me to some students who were already there. At the first dinner, I already felt safe and confident.
There was lots of information online so I knew what to expect. I felt at home right away, from the friendly receptionist to meeting the warden in the lobby at the welcome tea.


Couldn't have asked for a better internet connection!
Internet connection is very good.
Really impressed with the ease and speed of use with the wired internet cable connection. Think its extremely useful and good setup.
Very fast internet, I like it.
Wired internet's generally great and the cap is generous.

Cleaning & housekeeping 

Great cleaning, lovely cleaners.
Housekeeping staff are generally very good, I haven't had any issues with them.
I am overall satisfied with the cleaning. As I said the hall is clean most of the time, perhaps with the exception of weekends when the staff is not here, but that's understandable and residents should be more responsible in those days.
The cleaners do an excellent job.
The housekeeping staff are brilliant!!
The housekeeping staff are really nice!
The housekeeping staff are so friendly and great at their job.
Very satisfied with the cleaning here. Always very friendly and polite - and unnecessarily apologetic in case they disturb you!


Great maintenance staff.
Maintenance is generally good - if you have a problem you can report it to Matt through writing in a book at reception, and he normally deals with your request within a few hours, if not straight away.
Maintenance Matt who works in Connaught Hall is extremely efficient and a real gentleman.
Maintenance problems are always solved very quickly, and the maintenance man is always friendly and helpful.
The maintenance service, provided by Matt, is brilliant!
The service provided is of a very high standard. All of the times which I have had a problem concerning maintenance in my room, it has been resolved very quickly.
Very clear information throughout, any problems such as a broken kettle and a broken doorhandle were fixed within 24 hours. Maintenance staff always present in the hall to help.

Reception, security & safety 

All the receptionists are very kind. It is good how the same receptionists remain in the same halls as they then get to know the residents well.
Everyone I've spoke to at reception is friendly and helpful, security hasn't been an issue for me.
Everything about reception and security is perfect.
Feel safe in Connaught, especially with having the reception area where staff has to let people in themselves and check IDs of residents.
Fire safety posters are all around the building, conveniently located next to the elevator so people see it more often. Security staff are pretty nice. Mail and parcel handling is pretty good.
One of the security staff, Din, should be commended for his friendliness and approachability.
Reception staff are always very helpful.
There's a lot more security at Connaught than at pretty much all of the other student halls I've visited.

Students with disabilities 

Adrian and his team are fantastic.
Adrian is a very useful person to contact when there are problems- especially given his medical background. There are lots of posters around with numbers to call for various issues. It's a difficult question as there needs to be a balance of privacy and ensuring students don't become withdrawn.


The catering staff are very friendly and welcoming.

Rules, regulations & discipline 

The warden and his team are very clear and even handed at dealing with any violation of the hall rules - especially noise complaints which is brilliant.
The Warden and senior members are pretty good at managing noise complaints and other issues with living in such a social environment, in a constructive way that isn't too restrictive. They can be firm when necessary and I've heard of disciplinary meetings when residents are breaking the rules, but everything they do seems fair and if you're not troublesome they'll leave you to get on with everything and never bother you - but are always there for advice or help with anything. The Warden is always really great, and it's nice that he's in charge and enforces rules but also is very sociable and will chat to you when he sees you too. It's a very comfortable, relaxed atmosphere in halls, as long as you're willing to be reasonable about everything.

The Warden & Senior Members -- pastoral care & community life 

Adrian is a wonderful warden. He is always accessible and very easy to talk to. 
The community life is central to Connaught and everyone comes together in the common rooms and bar! It's one of the best aspects of the hall.
Adrian, Zack and KJ are very good at their jobs- events are well organised and suggestions are accommodated.
As I previously said, I have a really high opinion of the Warden. He's great, and the hall wouldn't be the same without him, and we all really appreciate everything he does for us. He genuinely cares that everybody is doing okay and enjoying their time here, and makes an effort to come to dinner and integrate himself with the residents, and is always present at the events hosted here. It's nice to know that he and the senior members are always around if you need help. Social life, community in halls, respect, tolerance, equality - all great. It's no surprise people often choose to stay on here in their second year (and some even in their third year).
Connaught Hall is by far the best hall!
Connaught Hall really is fantastic. The bar is an essential meeting place and community focus.
The community life here is great, this is Connaught Hall's best selling point in my opinion.
The atmosphere in the hall is very comforting and social. The warden and senior members are very involved with the activities of the hall.
The Warden and the Senior Members are very friendly and easy to find. The warden has open sessions which I believe are great and gives the residents an opportunity to speak about any topic.
The Warden is a great asset to the hall, as are the senior members. If you have any queries, they are always happy to help.
The warden is brilliant - senior members, particularly some, are extremely helpful and always there and Connaught would not be the same without Dr Clark.
The warden is great, he appears to foster a spirit of community. The atmosphere generally is great, everyone seems to get on and there is a certain pride to be from Connaught which is refreshing.
The warden is very good, you see him around, obviously involved in things and interested in what you say to him. He's polite and friendly and approachable.
I think the wardens efforts show... It's a nice friendly hall to live in. I was worried about moving away from home but I felt well supported and so welcome when I moved in, it's been fine.
The warden really makes the hall. He does an extraordinary job. Connaught Hall would not be the same without him.
This year would have been a lot more difficult without the warden he is very valued in this hall, him and his team are very approachable always happy to help - really can't over emphasise there importance and usefulness.

Social events, recreational facilities & the Residents' Club Committee 

I love having a bar in halls, it's convenient and sociable and a great place to meet up with people - I just wish people would use it more. But the bar manager and committee have put in effort to lower the prices of drinks which is good, and it's probably made a difference. The committee do a lot to enhance the community life in halls and it's noticeable.
It is amazing, there is always something going on in the Hall which I believe adds to the wonderful experience of living in Connaught Hall.
The events are great it is lovely to be living in such a social hall.
The residents' committee has organised various good events (I've attended some really cool parties at the bar), the Senior Members have organised some others (floor receptions, postgraduates' receptions, movember campaign and auction, multicultural celebrations, etc), and the Warden some others (welcoming tea and cake receptions, Christmas dinner, etc), so I think Connaught has something for everyone!
The Social life has been great, and a good way to bring disparate members of the hall together. the social life in this hall is great. Care is taken to include everyone and cultural activities are also commendable.
The social life is great.
The social life is great because of the bar, shared mealtimes and the events.
There's always things going on and that's one of the best things about living here. 
The bar is central to this hall. It's amazing to have our own bar.
The welcome teas at the start were important, as I felt I knew some people right from day one.
Our hall does lots of cultural nights - Indian Diwali, Chinese new year, Burns night, I think there were more as well. These are great fun and interesting to get involved in. Christmas tree decorating was wonderful, with a real family atmosphere. And Christmas dinner was just amazing. I know a lot of time went into that and I'd like to say thank you for it. I can't really think of any more events I'd add, tbh.

General comments / overall satisfaction 

Although the cost is around £30 more a week than my college's own halls, with the central location, catered accommodation, regular cleaning and social atmosphere I think it is definitely worth the extra. It has been a great experience to get to know so many people from all over the world, of different backgrounds and studying different subjects. I can only hope that I get the same experience again next year!
Amazing building filled with a great team of staff. It has been a pleasure living in Connaught Hall.
As mentioned, Connaught is sociable and lively due to the events organised and activity of its members such as the Connaught tv which is very funny, and parties. Additionally in the first few weeks second year members showed freshers clubs and good places to shop/explore in London such as Brick Lane and Borough Market, which was both fun and helpful.
Connaught has a very friendly atmosphere, really excellent staff, great location, I love my room and the view (third floor), just all-round enjoyment - I don't want to leave!
Connaught is fantastic. The warden is brilliant, and it is without doubt the best hall in London (that I am aware of!)
Excellent hall - the best in my opinion!
Great atmosphere- very sociable hall. Bar is a lifeline for socialising. 
I couldn't have asked for more. I am really hoping i can live here again. Can not imagine living anywhere else other than Connaught!
I love living here. It's been a great experience in my first year and I'd love to stay here again next year. 
The warden talks about family and community in speeches and newsletters (which are great, by the way, really good to see what going on) - and it's true, this is like a home for us. It's a safe, friendly, sociable, welcoming place and I would recommend it to anyone.
I would love to live in Connaught Hall for another year. I have really enjoyed the experience. I have made incredible friends and it really feels like home in Connaught. I feel very comfortable and very happy living here. I love it. Everyone from the Warden to the residents are very friendly and it makes living here a real dream.
It's a very friendly hall.
I chose to stay in Connaught in my first year because of its reputation as a social hall. It lived up to my expectations and has allowed me to meet many wonderful people. I really think the social aspect of Connaught ought to be a template for all halls.
Pastoral care, community atmosphere and attitude of residents all fantastic.
The experience at this hall has been great. Social life is good and the rooms are just the right size and comforting. The area is very safe and the warden, senior members, staff, etc are always around to help.
The hall is overall very accommodating and ideal. Close proximity to many UL campuses, very active social life, quiet rooms, a fair supply of food, very safe, etc.  It is much better than what I expected a student hall to be and if possible would continue to live here without a doubt.

Is your chair broken?

These three comments were made in the recent residents' survey:

1. The chair is almost broken, but no one fixed it.

2. The relaxation chair in my room has all torn-up fabric.

3. My chair has never been repaired or changed.

Since the survey is anonymous, we cannot direct someone to sort out these problems for you. If you are one of the people with a broken chair, please email so the management office can have a new chair sent to your room!

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here:

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Survey 2013: the bottom line

75.5 % of residents were "slightly satisfied" or "very satisfied" with Connaught Hall.
14.9 % were dissatisfied.

This compares with 93.7 % satisfaction and 1.1% dissatisfaction in 2011-2. So the focus of much of our post-survey follow-up will need to be on why satisfaction has fallen so much this year.

Overall satisfaction, value for money, and desire to come back next year are our "bottom line" satisfaction indicators. Here are the numbers:

Talk to us about this on Facebook: . Tell us why you think satisfaction is so much lower this year. Or email us at 

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here:

Residents' Survey - response rate

Survey response rate

The response rate to the Residents' Survey this year was a little disappointing: we had the lowest ever response rate since the survey moved online in 2010, and still the fourth lowest ever in the history of the survey, if you include the years when it was an A4 paper "physical" survey:
  • 2013 - 40.8% - online, administered by the University of London research & development unit
  • 2012 - 43.9% - online, administered by the Warden
  • 2011 - 50.4%online, administered by the Warden
  • 2010 - 47.8%online, administered by the Warden
  • 2009 - 35.1%paper, administered by the Vice-Warden
  • 2008 - 44.9% - paper, administered by the Vice-Warden
  • 2007 - 39.5%paper, administered by the Vice-Warden
I am disappointed that we have heard from so much less than 50% of the Hall, which really could call into question the validity and broader applicability of the results.

It's too late to take the survey now, so please use every opportunity to feedback to us via or comment on Connor Tall's Facebook post here:

We do value every comment, suggestion, and complaint you send to us. Keep them coming!

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here:

Monday, 25 March 2013

Hall news at a glance

The Connaught Hall homepage has a new feature that allows you to see all our updates from the website, Facebook, this blog, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, and Google+ all on one page.

The news feed automatically updates so you only need to visit and you will be guaranteed to see the latest news from the Hall.

Residents' Survey 2013

I received the results of the annual intercollegiate halls residents' survey today. Over the next few weeks, my team and I will go through every single response (that's 104 A4 pages of tightly-set text and data) so see what we can act upon now and what needs to be included in our longer-term plans.

I will post updates on the action we take in response to the survey here on my blog:

As soon as I can, I will also put the results into a more digestible format and publish them on our website.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Email your suggestions directly via Facebook

I have noticed that very many residents like to complain about catering, facilities, or other matters on the hall's Facebook group (, but startlingly few of these complaints ever make it into an email to our dedicated suggestion box -

I understand that sometimes people want to "vent" publicly about something that's irritated them. Facebook is good for doing that; and it's fine if they do not expect anything to be done on the basis of their "vent".

But I am concerned that residents might think that their Facebook posts will be seen and acted upon by halls management. They will not: halls management are not - and cannot be expected to be - members of every single page or group set up by or for residents, nor monitor them daily for new posts. The Senior Members and I do monitor posts and bring things to the attention of management when we notice posts about real problems - but of course, we don't know which posts are there simply for letting off steam, and which ones were posted seriously with the hope that things will change.

As you can see, this is not a robust system and people may well be disappointed that their post was not seen or acted upon. This is a pity, when the only thing preventing those people from sending an email might be that they forgot the suggestions email address, or did not have the time or inclination to formulate a nice email with "dear so-and-so" and all that.

So today I created a fictional Facebook personality called "Connor Tall" (get it?) and he has made a post on the main Facebook group used by hall residents:

Any comments made on this post will automatically be forwarded to and therefore read by me, the Hall Manager, the catering company, and Residents' Club Committee & Senior Member representatives. This will ONLY happen for comments on Connor Tall's post. Other posts in the Facebook group will NOT be forwarded to the people on this list.

Please note we cannot reply to messages sent using this method, as your email address will not be included in the message (unless you include it in what you write).

I hope this will be a useful new feature and look forward to being able to use your comments to improve the service we provide at Connaught Hall.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Eating off paper with plastic....

I received this from our catering manager last week:
Unfortunately we are now approaching the time of year where our china and cutlery stocks are running rather low. We are very short of mugs and plates and will soon be forced to use disposables.  
As you know this gives our customers a negative meal experience but also harms the environment. 
Please could we declare an amnesty! 
If our customers could kindly return to the dining hall any items they have in their bedrooms, I and your catering team would be very, very grateful.

So please, if you have any cutlery or china from the dining hall, return it ASAP, no questions asked. None of us wants to be eating off paper plates with plastic cutlery.

Licensing & the bar - an appeal for your help

We have been a little more strict recently on enforcing the rules that alcoholic drinks that were not bought at the bar may not be consumed in the bar, Bell Room, or garden at certain times.

The Connaught Hall Supplementary Regulations state:
12.2 Only alcoholic beverages that have been purchased from the bar may be consumed in the bar, courtyard garden, and Bell Room between the hours of 19.00 and 23.00.

This rule is necessary to help us uphold our obligations under the Licensing Act 2003.

The reason we have tightened up recently is that a large number of trangressions of this rule were reported in the past few weeks, indicating that our reliance on residents' self-regulation was inadequate and that more rigorous enforcement was required.

As with any increased rule enforcement, this move has not been without critics. To those who are unhappy about this rule and the fact that it is now being enforced more stringently by bar staff and Senior Members, I should like to explain why it is so important - please scroll down below the sign to find out more...

I see our bar as an enormous asset for the Hall. It is a social hub and a venue that makes it possible for us to host parties that most other halls cannot contend with. I think our bar is one of the reasons that Connaught Hall is regarded as being amongst the most social halls of residence in London.

The fact that our bar is managed and staffed by students for the Residents' Club Committee gives it a sense of informality, familiarity, and homeliness; these are some of our bar's best attributes. But it is still a "real" bar, with a licence, subject to very strict controls under the Licensing Act 2003. Since the Act came into force in 2005, we have been inspected - without any advance notice - by the police and/or local authority licensing inspectors on average once every 18 months. If on one of these inspections we are found to be breaching the terms of our licence, we could be fined up to £20,000 or lose our licence altogether. The Club doesn't have £20,000, so either penalty would result in the permanent closure of our bar.

All eight intercollegiate halls used to have a bar. In the last few years, six of them have been shut down. Of the two left, one is open only a few times a month; ours is the only proper bar left.

So, in enforcing these rules that help us to do what the Licensing Act tells us we must do, my aim is to protect and preserve our bar now and for the future. My hope is not to kill the community atmosphere of the bar, or put a downer on everyone's enjoyment of that space: my goal is to ensure that current and future residents continue to have a bar that is a vibrant and friendly hub for our Hall community.

I hope all residents can share my aspiration and help us work towards it.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

13-25 March

My schedule for the next 12 days is almost completely full, due to routine commitments plus a number of unanticipated issues requiring my attention.

Whereas I normally aim to reply to emails within 24 hours and offer a meeting within 72 hours, until the Easter break my response times will be a little longer. I will, of course, prioritise more urgent matters for an early response. If you have a routine enquiry, I will respond within 7 days.

I do also have open office sessions on Saturday 16 March, 17.30-18.30 and Tuesday 19 March, 17.00-18.00.

If you need help urgently, please ask at reception for the member of staff or Senior Member on duty. The duty staff or DSM can contact me on my mobile phone any time.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Communications survey

Some really useful responses so far in our communications survey:

It looks like most people want just want to receive emails to hear about things going on in Hall, and aren't so bothered about "official" social media.

What do you think? Add your voice!

Have you missed some important emails?

Have you missed important correspondence?

Several residents have not received recent important emails from Connaught Hall and the University of London. Later this month, we will be inviting applications for re-admission next year. This process is by email and if you miss the deadline, you cannot apply for re-admission. Make sure you receive all your email and don't miss out on any opportunities:

1. Check we have the right email address for you

If you have changed your email address since you applied for accommodation, please write to and with your current email and ask us to update your details.

2. Check your junk mail / spam folder

Please check your junk mail / spam folder now for mail from and Adrian Clark (

3. Add us to your contacts

To ensure you don't miss any future correspondence, please add and to your email address book / contacts, or to your safe senders list /whitelist.

Please only take food or drink from the fridge if you bought it.

Please only take food or drink from the fridge if you bought it.

The number of complaints about food being stolen from the pantry refrigerators has skyrocketted this term. I find it quite extraordinary and most disappointing that adults at some of the best higher education institutions in the world engage in such petty theft.

Most of us who live here in Hall would not dream of stealing food from someone else. Yet it seems there is a very small minority of inconsiderate, dishonest, self-centred delinquents who have no qualms about engaging in theft from their neighbours and supposed friends. It really is extremely sad. This behaviour has no place in our Hall community.

I want to express my absolute condemnation of this selfish behaviour, and my sympathy with anyone whose things have been stolen. I am open to suggestions as to ways in which we can combat this pernicious behaviour -

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Connaught Hall news

New content is being added to the Hall website at all the time.

To make it easy to see what's new, you can go straight to Eight new items were added just today:

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Second-floor men's toilets

I have agreed an action plan with the Hall Manager for dealing with the regular soiling of the second-floor men's toilets. The main points are covered in these posters, which is prominently displayed in that toilet block:

Please get in touch if you have any suggestions or concerns about this.

Update on second-floor men's toilets

We have seen with increased frequency in the last few weeks these toilets being left in a very unhygienic condition. The seat, lid, floor, and walls have been soiled in one or more cubicles almost daily.

The problem was brought to my attention when I saw a post on the Hall's (unofficial) Facebook group. It is worth remembering that the Hall cannot guarantee that we will always see posts like this (the Hall Management team are not on Facebook, and most complaints are about facilities, which are the responsibility of management rather than me or the Senior Members). Please use our suggestion box - - to raise complaints or ideas with us. You can also visit the Hall Management office during working hours, or speak with me at an open office session or whenever you see me around the Hall. You may have noticed I am currently consulting on how you would like to send us feedback. Take the survey here:

Toilets, facilities, and cleaning are properly a matter for the Hall Management team and I, as Warden, do not have any direct control over this. However, this matter raises a number of welfare, cultural, medical, and possibly disciplinary issues: these all fall within my area of responsibility and expertise. So I have formulated some questions and considerations that need to be borne in mind here and I will be using these to help the Hall Management team fulfill their responsibility to keep the toilets safe and clean:

  • The soiling is with type 6 stool. This is not normal stool and could indicate a serious medical problem such as inflammatory bowel disease if it persists for as long as it has.
  • The pattern of soiling suggests the person is not using the toilet normally by sitting on the seat. This could be a cultural difference or concern about hygiene.
  • It is obvious to anyone that the toilet is being left in an unsatisfactory state. The person responsible is doing so either deliberately or because there are no facilities to clean up after himself.
  • This person may have developmental or psychological issues around toilet use, or some physical disability that makes it difficult to use a standard toilet normally.
  • If the problem persists despite interventions to address these hygiene, welfare, and medical matters, it becomes a disciplinary matter. We will need other users of these facilities to help us identify who is responsible.

I hope to be able to publicise a final, joined-up plan to deal with this situtation today or tomorrow, following a meeting with the Hall Manager at 3pm.

Please keep us informed about any change (or no change) in the situation.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

FAQ: Study space

Residents often ask where they can study in the Hall, or if we can open rooms for them to study privately.

We expect most residents to do most of their study either in their room or at their college library. We provide a desk, chair, and lamp so you can study comfortably in your room. We do, however, provide other places for you to study. Residents in twin rooms have priority access to this study space.

Computer room

The Lang Room on the lower ground floor has two internet terminals for you to browse the web. There are also four computer desks which can be used for private study.

Convocation Trust Study Room

The Convocation Trust Study Room on the lower ground floor is for private quiet study mainly by students sharing twin rooms. There is comfortable space for nine people to use this room.

Additional study space

In the summer term, we will provide additional study space for residents who want to revise outside of their room. Normally we will leave the dining hall open from 7 pm to 11 pm for this purpose - but please remember to remove your things from the dining room by 11pm so we can lock up.

The dining hall is also routinely open on weekdays from breakfast until 2 pm, mainly so you can use the toaster, but you can study there, too.

In all these areas, please do not leave your books and study materials on the desks when you are not there: it's not fair on other residents who might want to use the space, and in some areas (especially the dining hall), can be unsightly - and is at risk of being thrown away by the cleaners!

We can be flexible, so if you need a particular type of space for a special project (e.g. big tables or an area for group study), contact me at least a five days in advance at or come to one of my open office sessions ( to discuss your requirements. I will do what I can to help.

Please also remember you can use most of the college libraries within the University of London, and these will operate extended opening hours during the exam season.

FAQ: Can the bar be open more?

We are commonly asked if the bar can be open more / longer hours.

The opening times for the actual bar (i.e. serving drinks) are set by the Bar Manager with a view to keeping the bar financially viable. This usually means the bar is open and serving drinks for 3-3.5 hours every night during term 1, and less in terms 2 and 3. This year (2013), the bar is still open every night in term 2, but only for 2 hours, from 9pm to 11pm. The Bar Manager is always happy to consider your ideas for how the bar could be open longer hours without losing money, so get in touch at Of course, there are also some legal / licensing restrictions on the hours the bar can serve alcoholic drinks.

The bar area (i.e. the room where the bar and pool table are) is not a common room. By and large, the bar area is only open when there is a member of staff serving drinks behind the bar. This year, the Duty Senior Member opens the bar area at 7pm so the area is open and unsupervised for up to 2 hours a day.

We have tried in previous years to keep the bar area open for longer as an extra common room, but problems have always arisen and forced us to return to locking the bar area except when it is supervised:
  • damage to the pool table;
  • break-ins and theft from behind the bar;
  • vandalism of chairs and sofas in the bar area;
  • noise complaints from rooms facing the garden because of people playing the piano or music in the bar after 11pm;
  • use of the doors from the bar to access the garden when it is closed after 11pm, also leading to noise complaints.
Because of these problems - all of which occurred more than once over a few years - we unfortunately cannot agree to open the bar area for longer.