New College are trialling a new household system whereby students are grouped in households of between 6 and 7 people, based on their group of friends rather than the location that they are living in within the College. 

The household groups are now based on “who people are friends with and who they would usually spend time with, rather than who they live near on site.” Each student involved has been issued a household card by the JCR, detailing their household number and household members, that they will be required to keep with them while on-site to be checked by Porters and the decanal team. The trial is currently planned to run over the next 2 weeks, until the end of Hilary term.

The trial was initially proposed by the New College JCR as a welfare initiative, which surveyed the students current living on college about their preferred household arrangement. The data from the survey found that nearly 90% of participants would prefer a friendship-based household system. Isobel Cook, JCR President at New College, told Cherwell that “the structure of our on-site accommodation is such that there were very few problems with shared bathrooms or kitchens, but where these did arise they were easily dealt with by the JCR Committee.” She continued: “Mental health is undoubtedly one of the most pressing issues faced by students today. This new system is a fantastic opportunity to bolster student wellbeing, whilst also reducing the risk of Covid through better rule compliance.”

A spokesperson for New College told Cherwell: “The aim of this new model is to ensure that students are able to spend time with their friends and access their established support systems, whilst also reducing the risk of Covid in College. Research conducted by the JCR showed that an overwhelming majority of students have said they will be more likely to comply with Covid rules in this new system.” 

“Many of the students living in College at the moment are here on the basis of mental health exemptions, and have expressed that this new system will positively impact both their wellbeing and their ability to carry out their academic studies.”

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