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Monday, 22 April 2013

Senior Member vacancies 2013-14

A quick update on my earlier post: ... There is still no news from University of London Human Resources on the final agreed procedure for applications and recruitment of Senior Members this year.

Keep following this blog and our Twitter and Facebook profiles for updates as and when I get them.

Survey results summary 2013

I have been producing a quick, colour-coded summary of the residents' survey results for Connaught Hall in a standard format every year since 2007. I've just published this year's results at, where you can also compare the chart with results from previous years.

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

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Appointment of new officers to the Residents’ Club Committee

An important announcement has been published by the Residents' Club Committee on their page at

The full text is as follows:

Appointment of new officers to the Residents’ Club Committee
The President and Entertainment Officer are not planning on returning to Connaught Hall for the 2013-14 academic year. September/October is an important time for Hall social events to welcome our new residents, and for some administrative purposes, the Club must have a President or Acting president at all times. 

The Club Constitution states:

In the event, for any reason, of a post falling vacant mid-session, a by-election must be held within one calendar month of the vacancy arising, except when such vacancy arises in the third term, when the elective Committee shall have power to co-opt subject to approval at the next General Meeting.
The Committee has therefore made the following appointments with effect from 1 August 2013, until the elections in October:
President – Christopher Madden
Secretary – Rebecca Ashton
Entertainment Officer – Georgina Cherry 
If you have any comments, questions, or concerns about these appointments, you may write to the Warden, in confidence, at The Warden will present your comments to the Committee at their next meeting. All feedback will be anonymised before being presented to the Committee, unless you explicitly state that you would like your name to appear with your comment. Please send any feedback before 5pm on Monday 15 April.

Formal ratification of these appointments is at a General Meeting of the Residents’ Club. The Constitution says:

The opinions of Members shall be voiced in General Meetings ... Ordinary Members shall have power to require a General Meeting to be summoned at any time on reasonable notice, but only if at least twenty-five Ordinary Members or one-eighth of the Ordinary Membership, whichever is the smaller, jointly wish to do so.
There is no scheduled General Meeting before the October elections at which these appointments can formally be ratified by the membership, but if the Warden receives twenty-five or more requests for the above appointments to be reviewed, an extraordinary General Meeting can be called this term for that purpose.

We wish the new officers a very successful and productive start to the new academic year, and expect they will prove to be a friendly, welcoming face for new residents. 

11 April 2013

An further announcement has been published on the bar page at

Appointment of Bar Manager & Assistant Bar Manager for 2013-14
Acting on the advice of the Residents' Club Committee, the Warden has made the following appointments for the 2013-14 academic year:
Bar Manager - Emily Burns
Assistant Bar Manager - Marion Guiraud

14 April 2013

Monday, 8 April 2013

FAQ: hot water / cold showers

Sometimes you might have to run the hot water tap / shower for 5-10 minutes before it gets hot, especially at off-peak times (i.e. in the middle of the day, when most people are out, and the middle of the night, when most people are asleep) in parts of the building that are farthest from the boiler.

If the water has been sitting in the pipes for a long time, it will be cold; and in a big building, it can take a long time of running the tap before you start getting water fresh from the boiler.

If, for some reason, the water isn't hot after 10 minutes of running the hot tap fast, please tell reception immediately. It's nearly always a very simple problem that we can fix really quickly - but only if someone reports it!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Senior member vacancies 2013-14

I am being asked a lot about senior member vacancies for next year (2013-14).

The most up-to-date, confirmed information about our vacancies will always be posted at Updates to that page will always be publicised via Twitter (, Facebook ( and our RSS feed (, so if you are interested in applying, make sure you are following at least one of those.

However, I also have lots of unconfirmed news that potential applicants will find interesting but is not definite enough for me to upload to the vacancies page. So I will use this blog post to share what I know.

The University of London is currently reviewing senior member posts and the recruitment process. Likely or possible changes include:

  • Recruitment of senior members will be centralised, so all applications will go to the University's HR department instead of to the warden of each hall.

  • Applications will be completely anonymised so the shortlisting panel does not know the name, age, sex, disabled status, or ethnicity of the applicants.

  • Applications may be invited for all eight halls at the same time, on the same form, instead of separate applications being made to individual halls. Interviews may be centralised so there is one big recruitment day for all eight halls.

  • Instead of candidates sending a short "eligibility" form along with a letter, curriculum vitae, and equal opportunities form, there may be one form that covers everything, dispensing with the need for letters and CVs.

  • Appointments will be for one-year, fixed term.

  • It may be possible for appointments to be extended, one year at a time, depending of satisfactory service. This decision may be guided by a formal process of appraisal and assessment, which may be externally validated.

  • The current absolute maximum of three years as a senior member may be lifted completely, or increased to four years.

  • It may be compulsory for senior members to take standard single rooms, losing the option to upgrade to en-suite or other accommodation.

  • For the first time, a formal person specification has been developed, detailing certain "essential" and "desirable" qualifications, training, personal attributes, and experience.

  • There will be detailed guidance on the appointment and eligibility of students who are in the UK on a "tier 4" visa. At present, these students are not eligible to apply as they can only work 20 hours or less per week during term time. This blanket ban may be removed or changed, subject to certain rota requirements.

  • It may become possible for third-year undergraduate students to take on senior member positions. (At present, you have to be at least a fourth-year undergraduate, or a postgraduate student.)

All these changes are still being considered and possibly modified between the wardens, halls management, and human resources. As soon as the recruitment process and eligibility criteria for this year are confirmed, I will update the page.

Friday, 5 April 2013

The email address to give feedback about anything at Connaught Hall is

Some respondents to the residents' survey were not aware of this address (stating they didn't know how to give feedback). One respondent was unhappy upon finding out that his/her email about catering had been distributed to some members of the Residents' Club Committee. Another said s/he expected emails to the suggestion box would be anonymised.

The full distribution list for is:

  • the Warden;
  • the Hall Manager;
  • from the catering company - the regional Catering Manager and our local Chef-Manager, as well as the company's own "comments" email address,;
  • the Facilities Committee Senior Member (and this year only, the McSF Senior Member);
  • the President and Secretary of the Residents' Club Committee.

This distribution ensures that the right person receives your email straight away, helping us to provide a timely response. By not anonymising emails, we can reply to the person who writes to us and let them know what action we have taken, or ask if we need more information about the complaint or suggestion.

The existence, purpose, and distribution of the suggestions email is well advertised online and in Hall --

On our website:

On the table-top fliers in the dining hall:

And on posters:

The address is also mentioned at several places in the residents' handbook

In light of the survey comments, I have looked at what we already have on this and cannot at this time see any way in which I can make the existence, purpose, or distribution of any clearer. 

It would be possible to have emails reviewed by one person (probably me) initially, then anonymised and forwarded to the person(s) who need to see it - e.g. if it's a complaint about catering, it would be sent only to the catering team. Such a system, however, would have disadvantages over the present arrangement:

  • it would slow down receipt of the email by the person who needs to act on it by up to 72 hours, if the email were sent on a Friday morning and the reviewer could not review and forward it until Friday evening, to be received by office workers on Monday morning;
  • anonymised emails would not be replied to, so you would never know what action had been taken;
  • it would prevent the Residents' Club Committee, facilities Senior Member, and Hall Manager from reviewing the whole spectrum of complaints, so we wouldn't see patterns of complaints that might need action higher up that at the individual service level.

Of course, if you are worried about your identity being known, or about your email being read by people not directly involved in your complaint or suggestion, you can always write to me ( with your ideas or complaints ans ask me to pass them on - anonymously if you prefer - to the relevant people or offices.

If you have any feedback on the publicity we produce for our address, or any thoughts on a better way of providing feedback, please get in touch with me. I should be especially interested to hear your views on the distribution of emails sent to the suggestion box: are you uncomfortable with your suggestions being seen by everyone on the distribution list?

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

Fridge thieves beware!

A large number of comments in the residents' survey talked about theft from the pantry fridges.

College Hall recently introduced a new scheme, using a a bit of technology and some decoy food items to catch fridge thieves. They caught three people red-handed in a week and appropriate disciplinary action was taken.

I propose to introduce the same method to catch thieves at Connaught Hall in April 2013. I really very sincerely hope that we shall not catch anyone: that this message will be enough to remind people that stealing others' food is not OK; and that the now very real threat of being caught might be a deterrent.

In the past, I have been limited to making pleas not to steal, but had no realistic means of detecting the culprits. That is no longer the case. And this has been such a persistent, insidious problem this year that I will apply harsh penalties to anyone who is caught stealing.

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

The coffee machine is working - BRING YOUR OWN MUG!

After a series of service engineers failed to show up, I spent most of this afternoon trying to repair the coffee machine myself  - and I'm pleased to report that it's working again, just in time to fuel your term 3 revision sessions!

Sadly, hundreds of cups and milk pots were stolen last term. These are paid for out of your £30/year Residents' Club subscription. Proper financial stewardship of the Club dictates that we have to take action to prevent funds being wasted like this, so from now on, the coffee machine will operate on a BYOM basis (bring your own mug). Whitener powder replaces milk pots, as this is only half the price of milk and, I hope, less likely to be stolen anyway.

Check the signs below to remind yourself of the speciality "combination" drinks menu and compare nutritional info and caffeine content for the different drinks available. Remember, we do have caffeine-free options too.

Televisions at Connaught Hall

Several responses in the residents' survey mentioned problems with the televisions in the common rooms.

The televisions are the property of the Residents' Club and responsibility for them lies with the Residents' Club Committee. Purchases of these televisions and associated equipment are funded by your £30/year Club subscription.

Today, I spent some time to find out exactly what is wrong with each of the televisions. My findings are shown in the table below, with my recommendations to the Residents' Club Committee in red.
It is up to your elected representatives whether they wish to use Club funds for the expenditure I have suggested. Talk to them - or email them at - if you have any views on whether they should or should not buy new equipment.

Please also email the committee if you are aware of any other faults or problems that I might have missed when I was looking at the TVs today.

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