Mansfield
students have expressed anger after it was revealed that their college has
agreed to host conference guests in a new accommodation block during term time.
It was felt that the JCR was not consulted on the decision, and had thought
that students would be able to move into the new accommodation next term. JCR
Vice president Andy Mitchell told a JCR meeting last Sunday, “College plans to
book [the new accommodation] out exclusively to conferences in Hilary term, and
almost exclusively in trinity term.” Mitchell
claims that a “verbal agree­ment” had been arranged with the College that
students would be able to occupy the twenty-four new rooms in the Garden Building
accommodation block when it was completed. JCR president Ed Mayne described the
news as a “breakdown of communications” and said that decisions had been made
“over our heads.” Mayne
added, “it’s fine conferences being here when we’re not, but this sets a
dangerous precedent for conferences being here at the same time as students.”
Mansfield Bursar Steve waterman defended the decision saying that the
conferences were necessary as “for very strong financial reasons the building
would need to generate income” until it is used by students next Michaelmas. Part
of the students’ anger at the deci­sion was caused by their participation in a
fund-raising telephone campaign to finance the new building. a number of
students felt that these jobs had been taken, and donations asked for, on a
false premise. Waterman
said in response to the allegations, “The telethon callers were fully briefed
that the new building would be used for income generating purposes, until the
beginning of the new academic year." First
year Alex craven, who had been promised a new room for the next two terms,
said, “I had been told by Andy that i would be able to move into the Garden Building
in Hilary term. I brought the issue up when i met the Principal at the start of
this term, and she gave the impression that there would be no problems.” Waterman
denies the verbal agree­ment and said, “it did not occur to me that there would
be any strong wish on the part of students who had already got college accommodation
elsewhere to want to move part way through the year.” he added that it would
not be feasible to break contracts for off-site accommodation mid-way through
the year. Waterman
dismissed the fears, saying, “The new building is separate and has its own key
arrangements. There will be the usual Junior dean and porter presence.”
waterman refuted concerns that the conference guests would have preferential
access to student facilities. Mansfield principal Diana
Walford, said of students being mislead about be­ing allocated new rooms, “I
tend to talk enthusiastically about the new building, which is immediately
opposite my study windows, because that’s the way I feel about it. I am sure,
in due time, that is how the entire student body will come to feel about this
splendid new addition to our student facilities. ARCHIVE: 6th week MT 2005