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St Catz may ask students to share rooms amidst RAAC crisis

Sharing rooms between two students with a mattress on the floor is being considered by St Catherine’s College as an option of last resort to make up for accommodation affected by RAAC.

An email from the St Catz JCR president revealed that the college is looking to secure additional on-site accommodation and spare rooms in other colleges, after 152 bedrooms were previously found to be affected by RAAC. The college is also exploring a room-sharing option. Students volunteering for this would opt to share a room, where a mattress on the floor would function as a second bed, which could be “moved during the day to provide more space.” Students choosing this option would be required to pay 50% of rent (£13.56) each. 

The email also revealed that the college began investigations into RAAC earlier this year in May. After hiring an independent consultant for an initial assessment, they had received a report in early July, which advised them to conduct a Risk Assessment for buildings where RAAC was present. 

After concerns over RAAC in the school-sector were then expressed in late August, the college restricted the affected areas “until surveys and remediation works could be undertaken” and informed students of these developments. Surveying of affected areas is still in progress. 

St Catherine’s is currently focusing its efforts on staircases 1 to 16, where 152 bedrooms are located. Contractors for this are on-site but it is possible that the rooms will not be finished for the upcoming term. 

If this occurs, accommodation will be prioritised for incoming first-years, to “facilitate their induction”, and third and fourth-years, to prevent disruption to their final year assessments. Students with accessibility requirements will also receive housing in college, whilst ballot groupings will be maintained where possible. 

The email states that the college explained that it is “making every effort to secure additional on-site accommodation (eg. Guest Rooms/Catz House) and reach out to other Colleges for spare accommodation space. However, it is possible that for a short period, the rooms may not all be available, and so the College may need alternative arrangements, including off-site to the College.”

Those who may need to be housed off-site in alternative accommodation will be selected randomly. 

The JCR president explained that the “plan is to return students housed in alternative accommodation to on-site accommodation as works in affected rooms are completed. 

“The College said it is not yet possible to estimate exactly how long alternative arrangements will last, but the College is currently expecting that for the majority of students it might be a week to two weeks at most, and for a small number of students possibly a bit longer. Again, the best-case scenario is for a shorter period.”

Students who volunteer to share a room will also receive an additional seven days of single accommodation at 50% of the price, as a “gesture of goodwill” for the inconvenience, the president stated. 

He added that room-sharing would be a “short-term arrangement” and that this “will only be asked for if it becomes necessary.” 

The accommodation charge will also remain unchanged, as this is unrelated to on-site provisions, and only includes the student rooms and the servicing of these. Additional arrangements, including a marquee as a dining hall, a temporary kitchen, and a marquee in the JCR garden as a social space for undergraduates, will be organised by the college. 

The president reassured students that “[t]he JCR Committee continues to advocate students’ interests on the matters discussed and will circulate more concrete details as soon as they are provided to us.”

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