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Monday, 22 September 2014

Welcome speech delivered at dinner on Sunday 21st September

Hello everyone. I’m Adrian, your Warden.

My first task tonight is to extend you all a very warm welcome to Connaught Hall. I am so pleased that you have joined us at Connaught, and I’ve really enjoyed meeting and getting to know so many of you over the last two weekends. And I hope you feel at home here very quickly.

I read something in the newspaper last week that I thought was worth sharing:
The fundamental law of freshers week is that everyone is terrified and insecure, and it's just a game of who can hide it best. Freshers week is probably not the time you'll meet the people who you will become best friends with. To be honest, it's more about surviving and attempting to have fun in this strange and overwhelming new world you've been thrown into. But it can be the time when you sow the seeds for friendships that you'll come to depend on.

So while you’re busy feeling a bit nervous about everything but pretending you’re not, remember all the people sitting around you are thinking and pretending exactly the same thing. And let me assure of this: you will make some amazing friends at Connaught Hall this year – friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. And I really hope you will look back on this year as one of the best of your life.

Now, I want to share something very important with you. Something that I need your help with.

My goal here in Hall is for everyone to feel safe, happy, and a sense of belonging in our Hall community. That’s my mission. And I want you to share it with me. Starting tonight, help me to make Connaught Hall “home” not just for you but also for everyone else around you right now.

How can we do it? Well, it’s actually very simple.

I’m going to suggest four easy rules that you can use to make your life better this term.

Rule number one: 
Get involved in some of the exciting opportunities the next few weeks will offer you. 

Come to our events, use your Hall bar, stand for election to the Residents’ Club Committee. That’s how you can best meet people.

Rule number two:
Be yourself, but be interested in other people.

Then you will make friends with people who like you for who you really are. And you'll make those friends much more quickly by being genuinely interested in the people you meet.

Rule number three: 
Take time to relax.

Some of you will want to go out and get drunk seven nights a week every week this term. You might even feel under pressure to do that. You don't have to. It’s a myth that students spend all their time at parties. Overdoing the partying side of things will exhaust you more quickly than you might think. Take some time out for yourself, relax, go for a jog, go shopping. Not everything has to be about alcohol.

Others of us might choose to study in the library almost every waking hour. Don’t do that either – that’s just as damaging for your health as going to a party every night. Your grades won’t reflect all that extra work and you will not feel good.

So take some time out for yourself.

Rule number four:
Consider your neighbours in Hall.

In particular, try to be quiet when they want to study or sleep. I have seen from too much experience that conflict between two neighbours in Hall makes both of them really unhappy. Don’t be one of those people!

You can go one step further than just not annoying your neighbours: look out for them, too. Talk to them, listen to them, help them if you can.

So those are my four rules for staying happy. But what if you have “down” times? Well, here’s the biggest secret nobody ever told you: 

it’s OK to ask for help.

So who do you ask? There are people all around you who are ready to listen, to advise, and to help if things get tough. Here in Hall, my team of Senior Members and I help the Hall community grow together, look after you when you need a bit of support, and help you resolve conflicts with other residents. This year, my Senior Members are: Becca, Bill, Jing, Jon, and Leah.

I’m a doctor in the emergency department at University College Hospital. The senior members are all students in at least their fourth year of university study. 

You can talk to us about anything. Anything at all.

If you need some practical help with something inside the Hall, we’re really lucky at Connaught to have a fantastic hall management team who look after the building and all the facilities and services you use every day – so that’s things like catering, maintenance, security, cleaning, the laundrette, and all the really useful stuff.

Alice is our Hall Manager, Julie is her assistant, and we also have Dave working with us at the moment. They’re both based in the office behind reception and they’re very happy for you to pop in talk to them during their office hours.

You can also write to us with any ideas, suggestions, or complaints about pretty much anything in Hall at our suggestion box address. It’s well publicised in the Hall Handbook, online, and on posters in reception and in the dining hall. We really do want to hear from you. We will always reply and will always do our best to take action on your suggestions wherever possible.

Now, if you really want to get involved in the Hall, stand for election to the Residents’ Club Committee in the second week of October. All Connaught Hall residents are eligible to stand for election. The five residents who get voted in will be in charge of the bar, and will organise all this year’s parties and social, entertainment, and sporting events. They get a budget to spend and meet regularly with me and my team.

Being on the committee is a great way to get to know everyone in Hall, to influence how things run, and it’s a very good point to have on your CV. So think about getting involved and talk to me or one of the outgoing committee members about it.

Or you might want to join the Facilities Committee or the Multicultural Students’ Forum. Again, you are all eligible to join these committees and they are a very good way to get more involved in the life of the Hall.

We will post information about the Residents’ Club elections, the Facilities Committee, and the Multicultural Students’ Forum over the next week or so. So make sure you are following us on Facebook, or Twitter, or Tumblr, or whatever is your preferred social platform we're on pretty much everything.

OK, well, thank you for listening tonight. Please get in contact if you need any help, or want to make any suggestions. Remember the bar is staying open until late. I hope to see lots of you there later.

And now, in our usual Connaught tradition, let’s raise a toast:

To a very happy and successful year for all of us!