STUDENTS AT SOMERVILLE and New Colleges have been angered by accommodation problems at their respective colleges due to extensive renovations.

New College’s kitchens, buttery and beer cellar are being refurbished from the end of Hilary Term 2013 to the end of Michaelmas Term 2014. 

The bursar of New College told Cherwell, “There will be temporary kitchens and hall seating for around 150 students and the SCR in Holywell Quad.”

These are the first major refurbishments at New College since the 1960s and the loss of space means the college’s commemoration ball this year has been reduced from 1000 tickets to 925.

One student at New described the work as a “necessary evil.”

New College students are also facing a separate accommodation crisis, as more third year students than ever will be forced to live out of college in their final year. The current housing system arranged by the JCR guarantees rooms for first, second and fourth years. Those students who do poorly in their second year ballot are eligible to remain in college as finalists.

According to the bursar, “The whole student accommodation policy is to be reviewed. Fewer third years can be accommodated next year since more fourth years seem to want to live in.”

JCR President Ellie Davidson has called for an emergency meeting on Friday evening in which students will decide whether to maintain the current ballot system, which the JCR claims is “basically defunct”. A motion to change the system, making second years live out of college, instead of third years, will also be discussed.

At Somerville, the renovation works taking place at the Wolfson Building are coming to an end, having been extended beyond their initial deadline, causing serious problems for a number of students. There have been numerous complaints over noise issues, as well as concerns that the renovation was taking far longer than expected.

Somerville JCR President Marsha Sudar was supportive of the actions taken by her college in order to minimise the impact on student life. “There have been some problems with the length of the Wolfson project and disruption that it has caused to some students. However, college has been most helpful in efforts to improve communication regarding the works. The need for this project has been balanced with the importance of providing students with an effective working environment. Students were presented with the option of changing rooms and those most affected have been offered a rent rebate.”

Andrew Parker, a spokesperson for the college, told Cherwell, “A rent rebate was given to those affected in the final two weeks of last term, and last week and this weekend we have offered alternative accommodation to those directly affected. Nobody chose to take that up. We have been sending out regular updates to everybody affected so that they knew about what was happening, when and why.” He added that, “The investment is to increase and enhance facilities within the college, and just to make the point the first event in the new extension will be a student bop, this Saturday.” 

However, one student pointed out that, “We haven’t had a bop in there since last Trinity, it’s been extremely upsetting.” The same student added, “There was a lot of anger over the noise and disruption, for students living in Wolfson, as well as in Park and Penrose, the buildings on either side.

“We were being told that the works would be mostly done over the summer – but they were nowhere near done at the beginning of Michaelmas. People have had workmen walking around on the roof outside their first floor window all year. College said they would definitely be finished by this term but when I arrived back in 0th week, they weren’t done.”