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Sunday, 6 October 2013

Seconds rules for the dining hall

A few supplementary notes for our dining hall about what happens for "seconds" just before the servery closes.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

ABC party last night

Last night's ABC - "anything but clothes" - party was great. Thank you to the outgoing members of the Residents' Club Committee for their hard work in organising the event (and blowing up all those balloons!). I know Beth Hughes, David Haughan, Charlie Axelsson, and Imi Jerome helped a lot with setting up on the day, as well - so thank you all. Will Kay did a really good job as our DJ and got people on the dancefloor earlier than I've ever seen at a Connaught party before!

Thank you also to everyone who attended: this party had a super atmosphere, very friendly, and there were no serious problems all night - that's down to all of you. 

I hope you all enjoyed the party. Look out for our next events coming in October / November.

Fire drill report 04/10/2013

Thank you, everyone, for a smooth fire drill yesterday evening. About 150 people evacuated in under 6 minutes (all but two of those in under 5 minutes), which is a good time and certainly means we don't have to run another drill this term.  Everyone's alarm  and all the fire exits worked normally. 

There were just two areas where we could do better:

1. Use alternative stairs & exits

Please remember to use the staircases at either end of your corridor as well as the main staircase in the middle. In middle-of-the-night evacuations, when everyone is sleepy in their pyjamas, the middle staircase can get congested and have people backed up like a snake all the way up to the second floor. That won't happen if you use the alternative exits.  

For example, if you live in rooms x01 - x06 or x42 - x48 (or thereabouts - it's slightly different between floors), use the north staircase all the way down to the basement, then use the fire exit out to below street level and up the steps to the street. 

Or if you live in rooms x23 - x35, use the south staircase and exit at street level through the side door.

2. Cross the road for the assembly point

The evacuation assembly point is on the pavement outside Passfield Hall, which means crossing that small road to get off the block that Connaught is on. This is based on advice from the police and fire brigade about the risk of flying glass from broken windows, and explosion risk. We have had at least 5 bomb threats that I can remember in the last 16 years. There were never any bombs, thankfully, but we have to make our evacuation plan suitable to keep you all safe from explosions as well as fire and smoke. So do remember to cross the road and stand outside Passfield Hall. 

There will be another drill in the spring / early summer, in order for us to meet the requirement that we have two per year. But as you've seen, we warn you in advance if there is going to be a drill; so if you hear the fire alarm again, you know for sure that it's not a drill (except if it rings for less than 10 seconds at 1pm on a Wednesday, when we test the system).

Thank you again for helping us with yesterday's drill.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

October update

Dear resident

It's been a busy few weeks in Hall and there are a few more things coming up in the next week or so. I thought it might be useful for you to have an update on everything in one place.

1. Residents' Club elections - 08/10/13 

At dinner time on Tuesday 8th October, you will be able to elect five new representatives to the Residents' Club Committee. The people you choose will organise many of the social events in Hall this year, run the bar, and spend up to £6500 of your money - so listen to what they have to say and what they are going to do for you. At the time of writing, only two residents have put themselves forward for the election. If fewer than five people stand, there will be no election and those who have nominated themselves will be appointed automatically. More of you must have ideas for how we can make this year amazing for everyone: stand for election and share your ideas; if you get enough votes, you will be able to put them into practice! Visit for more information about the Club and the election, and to nominate yourself. My "letter to candidates" tells you exactly what's involved, and what you can expect from us in return. Or speak to me, a Senior Member, or one of the outgoing members from last year's Committee. The deadline for nominations is midday on Saturday 5 October: it's an automatic system that will close at exactly midday. 

2. "Anything but clothes" party - 04/10/13 

Friday night is our freshers' ABC party in the bar, 8pm till 2am (bar serves alcohol until 1am). You are invited to be creative with your outfit and wear absolutely anything - except clothes. Maybe some photos of previous ABC parties at Connaught will provide you with inspiration:

As you can see, it's totally fine if you want to come to the party in actual clothes: we'd rather have you there in clothes than not there in not-clothes! 

As with all our late parties, you may sign in a maximum of two guests for the duration of the event (8 till 2). 

Please try and keep the party confined to the bar and Bell room so that residents who don't want to attend the party are not disturbed. I regret that we strictly cannot allow any "after-parties" in bedrooms or corridors after 2am, and we must keep noise outside the front of the Hall to a minimum so our hotel & residential neighbours don't complain and stop us from having more parties in future. 

3. Fire drill - 04/10/13 

Weather permitting, a fire drill will be held on Friday 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 outside Passfield Hall on Endsleigh Place.

Follow the green exit signs to find your nearest escape route. 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. Your Licence Agreement obliges you to participate in fire drills. If the total evacuation time is too long, more fire drills will be held over the next few weeks – so don’t let everyone else down! 

4. Have you taken some good photos of our freshers' events? 

We love our photos at Connaught. If you have any shots you're proud of from any of our welcome events (afternoon teas, grand bar opening, welcome dinner, speed meeting, or of course from tomorrow's party), I'd be really delighted if you sent me some that I can upload at or at Email me one or two pictures at, send me a link to your photos on your own Flickr, or ask me about lending you a memory stick if you have lots to share. 

5. Join the Facilities Committee and/or Multicultural Students' Forum (McSF) 

I posted a message about how to join these committees a few days ago: democracy-feedback-and-student

Both committees meet three or four times a year for about an hour. If you haven't been on a committee before, it will be good experience of how meetings work. And whatever your level of previous committee experience, your input to making Connaught Hall better for everybody will be greatly valued. Please follow the instructions in my previous post and join up as soon as possible if you're interested. 

6. Room swaps

I have been asked frequently about room swaps in the last few weeks. If you are thinking about asking for a room change, please take note of the following advice from our Residents' Handbook:

Requests for room swaps are dealt with exclusively by the Reservations Office based at ULU, and will only be considered after the middle of October when everyone has moved in: email 
We regret that the staff at Connaught Hall cannot approve requests for room swaps.
The Reservations Team are the best people to answer all your questions on this subject, including things like "are there currently any empty rooms?" or "is there anyone who hasn't moved in when they should?". I regret that the Senior Members and I do not routinely have access to the information that would allow us to give you an accurate answer to these questions.

7. Access [H]all Areas 

This private, invitation-only online social network for the intercollegiate halls of residence was new this year. It already has almost 800 members so it's a good platform for sharing ideas for sports meet-ups, outings, and clubs, especially where there may be benefits in the numbers gained from getting more than one hall involved. 

If you're not already a member, sign up with this link: - and remember to join the Connaught Hall group on the site!

Do remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, as well: and

8. Last reminder to check the Residents' Handbook! 

Our Residents' Handbook can be found at

It is long, so we don't expect you to read every page in detail. We do very much expect you to read the sections on noise and fire safety, and strongly advise you to have an idea of the contents pages, so you can dip into those bits that interest you now, and know what information is available for you to refer back to later in the year if you're not sure about anything.

So, one last time: please take a look at our Handbook!

Welcome to your dining hall

Pretty much everything you might want or need to know about the dining hall and catering service in one poster -

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Welcome speech - delivered at dinner on 1st October 2013

Hello everyone. If we haven't met already, I'm Adrian, your warden here at Connaught hall.

I hope you’re enjoying your food. Let’s thank our kitchen staff.

Now, some congratulations are due...

Due to all of you, in fact. You have arrived here, in London, at Connaught hall, to begin or to continue studying at one of the best  universities in the world. Well done:  you must not undervalue your own achievement in getting here.

Thanks  are also due to Chris, Becca, Christopher, Georgina, Daisy, and Emily of the outgoing Residents' Club Committee for the brilliant freshers' programme they put together for us.

We all want the academic year that lies ahead to be your best and most successful year so far.

You're in the right place for it: Connaught has a reputation as being the happiest and most social hall in London. I hope you have already found yourself calling Connaught  your home, and if home is where the heart is, that Connaught will take to your heart as it has to mine.

We can call ourselves successful if we can look back and say that this year we have deepened our understanding of ourselves, contributed to the happiness of others, and learned a little more about the rich diversity of our world and the people we share it with.

In order to do this, we need a safe, secure home environment. The Hall Management team strive to make the building comfortable. Harriet is our Hall Manager and can help you with anything to do with your room, common areas, bathrooms, catering, safety, maintenance, and cleaning. You can see Harriet and her team in the office behind reception.

While the Management team look after the building, as your Warden, I’m here to look after the people who live here: to help you enjoy your experience this year, to support you through any tough times or difficulties, and to promote a social, cohesive, supportive community spirit. Five student Senior Members help me. This year, they are Bill, Jing, Joe, Vikki, and Zack.

I am a specialist A&E doctor at University College Hospital, and the Senior Members are full-time students, so we are mostly available in the evenings and at weekends. I can offer confidential listening and support for absolutely anything that impacts on your wellbeing. No problem is too big or too small. Email me, ask for a chat, or come to one of my advertised open office sessions.  

For help in emergencies, a Senior Member is on call every night and all weekend. You can contact them by asking at reception, and they can call me, if they need to, any time of day or night.

There are a few things that will unfortunately guarantee this year is neither your best nor your most successful.  The most common one is noise. The most serious one is fire. I’m not going to harp on about negative things tonight, but please, please take a few minutes this week to read the sections of the Residents’ Handbook about noise and fire safety. It’s really important. Please remember to take a look.

Let's get back to how we can positively make this your best and most successful year...

Everyone in this room is bright, intelligent, thoughtful, and uniquely interesting as an individual. We can all make a valued contribution to our hall community.

You can contribute in a formal way, by getting elected to the Residents Club Committee, or joining the Facilities Committee or Multicultural Students' ForumThere are posters and Facebook posts up right now about how how to get involved in these. The deadline for all of them is within the next week or so, so check the noticeboard in reception tonight if you haven't already seen these.

Or you can contribute in a thousand different ways informally.

  • Set up a club or society - jazz, chess, movies, art, whatever interests you. 
  • Have a regular lunch date for anyone to join. 
  • Organise a trip to a museum or tourist attraction. 
  • Pick up litter in common areas. 
  • Bring your friends to the hall bar. 
  • Set up a pool tournament. 
  • If you spot something that's broken, report it.
  • If you see potential for improvement in something, tell me. 
  • Encourage people to recycle. 
  • Tell your neighbours in a friendly way if they're being too noisy. Or report it to me if it's a frequent problem. 
  • Support your friends if they're feeling upset, sick, or lonely. Tell me if you're worried about them. 
  • Share your hobbies and interests with us. 
  • Encourage and promote respect for everyone, regardless of their faith, culture, disability, colour, gender, sexuality, politics, or social class. 
  • Challenge prejudice. 
  • Ask questions. 
  • Donate books to the library when you don't need them anymore. 
  • Or simply turn up at events.

In all these ways, and many more, you can make our hall and our community better; help others to do well; and give yourself something to be proud of.

We are only one or two weeks into the year. Many of you will still be feeling some sense of homesickness, loneliness, or even culture shock. Most of you will still be anxious about whether you will make enough friends, or the right sort of friends, or whether your degree is the right one for you. All these feelings are normal and most will resolve themselves over the next few weeks. I hope our programme of welcome events has already helped you to work through some of your worries. If you need more support, remember that's exactly what I am are here for.

Together, let's build a community that will see us all through the year ahead. This hall is a great place to live. Make it your home. Make it special. Make some great friends.

Now, without further ado, let's raise a toast to your best and most successful year!

Those four really important pages of the Residents' Handbook....