Keble Warden ‘mightily sorry’ for undergrad accommodation cock-up

Failure to complete fire safety tests forced second and third year undergraduates to delay their arrival in Oxford

Photo: Dimitri B, Flickr

Keble offcials have apolgised to students for forcing students to delay their arrival in Oxford, though insist they will “make no apology for not consulting.”

The apology came in an acrimonious open forum between students and staff, as they try to restore relations ahead of the coming year.

Following a failure to complete fire saftey tests in the college’s graduate accommodation prior to the start of term, second and third year undergraduates at Keble College were told to “postpone their arrival in Oxford.”

In an email sent by the college’s warden, Jonathan Phillips, on Monday of -1st week, the students were further told that “unless they [had] a compelling reason to be in College sooner,” they would only be allowed to take up residence at the college from Thursday 4th October.

Wednesday’s open forum was held to allow students affected by the accommodation mishap to voice their concerns.

Presided over by the warden, the forum was attended by Keble Bursar Roger Boden, Domestic Bursar Nick French, Senior Tutor Ali Rogers, and Welfare Fellow Nevsky Everett.

About 30 members of the Keble JCR were also present.

Noting the “considerable inconvenience” caused by the accommodation cock-up, Phillips said he was “mightily sorry”.

However, he added: “We had no time to consult [students about the best course of action], and I make no apology for not consulting.”

Students raised points about access, with one JCR member citing an email, dated 25th September, which explained: “In the circumstances we cannot accept as a compelling reason the fact that the only time you can be brought to College is at the weekend.”

Students also called for improved communication, noting the unclear emails sent five minutes before the college office closed during -1st week.

Phillips argued, that “the [college’s] motivation was good,” as they intended to communicate as quickly and clearly as possible, but acknowledged that there were still problems with the way in which information was distributed.

Related  Life Divided: College Bars

Questions were also raised about the temporary closure of the hall and the O’Reilly Theatre, which started last week and will end during the Easter Vacation.

Furthermore, there was discussion about college facilities, with MCR members being set to use JCR washing machines until the end of the month.

A third year at Keble told Cherwell: “Since I had already committed to coming back early, I had to sleep on friends’ floors for six nights.

“I had problems with storing my stuff as well, as my parents couldn’t take time off on the Thursday to help me move in.”

Another third-year student added: “The general feeling in college in the past has been the administration does not prioritise its undergraduate students.

“It was this discontent that meant the inconsiderate emails and delay in our return to college was disappointing, but not surprising, confirming what we’ve suspected all along.”