St Catherine’s College will temporarily replace the dining hall and JCR lounge with marquees due to RAAC concerns. 152 student bedrooms, the Administration block, the Wolfson Library and the kitchen were also constructed with RAAC.
In an email to students on Tuesday, 19 September, the college stated that these areas and others in the same block built in the 1960s will be “restricted to access” as advisors investigate the construction and devise “remedial measures”.
The review will “likely” carry into the new academic year and the college has consequently erected two marquees to serve as a temporary dining hall and JCR lounge. The college also has plans to implement a “mobile bar” in the JCR Garden to serve as a temporary bar, as has been done in the best, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The affected student bedrooms are found on the top floors of staircases 1-16, mainly reserved for 1st and 3rd years. The College added that the Accommodation Officer “is currently securing alternative accommodation for those students who will be affected”. Students will be advised “shortly” if these changes will affect them. In an email to the Fresher’s Rep, the College clarified that freshers will be prioritised.
Students from the college were taken by surprise when the use of RAAC was first revealed last week and the JCR has continued to push for updates. The college notes in their most recent email that they are “doing everything [they] can to return College life to normal and to minimise the impact of the changes on student in the meantime”.
The college has stated that they have “no further comment at this stage”.
Following the college’s announcement that restricted access would continue into Michaelmas, St Catherine’s JCR president, Axel Roy Lee, emailed the students, noting that the update was “contrary to the initial expectation that full access would be restored before the start of term.”
Sharing a response to a previous request for clarification, the college told him: “I understand that students are wanting to know, but I’m afraid that we cannot say more until we have the assessment.”
Lee’s email further said: “It is completely understandable that the College needs time to formulate a strategy and wait for professional advice. However, at the same time, it is crucial that the College provides the reasoning behind its decision making ahead of time and delivers prompt, detailed updates.”
He added that the student body “must be allowed to contribute to addressing the situation as it unfolds, rather than simply react.”
This is a developing story which will be updated with further comment. This story was updated at 18:05 19th September 2023 to include the email from St Catherine’s JCR President.