Notes from session held 25 September (Ursula Hall)
Why have 500 beds in the new SA5 accommodation?
Vice-Chancellor – It’s really to do with finances, the larger the residence, the greater the financial viability. However, you don’t want to build too big as you need the opportunity to develop a community within a residence.
One of the regular complaints about Ursula Hall is that the floors don’t have gathering areas. What sort of spaces will there be in the SA5 accommodation?
Lynda Mathey -There will be big spaces and small spaces.
One thing I like about Ursula Hall is it allows everywhere to be connected so you’re not limited to the one community.
Lynda Mathey – You have to have a space where everyone is included in a smaller and wider community. The position of the spaces like kitchens all comes into play.
Open Question – If you were to rebuild Ursula Hall what would you like included?
Accessibility – not just thinking about stairs but how you can get into other rooms if you’re in a wheelchair.
Lynda Mathey – Buildings of this age don’t have good disabled access and it is very expensive to subsequently add such access.
Student comment – Because Ursula Hall is small, the floors flow into each other.
Student comment – One very nice feature of Ursula Hall is being able to access everyone’s rooms indoors.
Most students agreed that access to WiFi is an issue.
Discussion on catering
I wouldn’t like to see the flexi catering option where they have giant dining halls as there’s no real community. It’s interesting to learn lots from other students from different disciplines. The problem with the larger dining halls are they’re too big and you’re never sure you’ll know someone.
A question was asked if the students would be open to dining options that included overflow from other residential halls.
Student comment – I think it’s great we have some of that with Laurus Wing – it brings people into the community
Student comment – It would be good if catered Halls had rentable kitchens where you could bake or make a special dinner in a common area.
A comment was made about the small dining room in Burton and Garran and students agreed it would be nice to have an area to sit down around a dining table.
Will there be double beds in the SA5 accommodation and does this mean the rooms will be larger or will they take up more room size?
Lynda Mathey – The room size proportion will be the same.
Will that make those rooms more expensive?
Lynda Mathey – We haven’t determined the price yet but we think it will be around the same as Burton and Garran rates.
Vice-Chancellor – We’re trying to find a middle ground with student expense in mind.
The discussion then moved to the trade-offs that were discussed with students when the SA5 building was being developed.
Lynda Mathey – There absolutely has to be heating but we could trade off on AC. With a modern building you get a lot of passive cooling and with a modern building the operating costs lower due to better energy efficiency. That all helps to keep the price down.
Returner’s policy – there are issues people have with the stress it causes them trying to get replaced in accommodation.
Lynda Mathey – We have a high demand for the first year guarantee. The Residential Committee President can give you a fair idea of what we’re looking for in the application process. We are looking for how we can facilitate accommodation for returners off campus. For example, we are setting up a Facebook page and website for students that need extra boarders. Keep on communicating – sessions on shared communications are good opportunities.
Vice-Chancellor – The First Year Guarantee has implications for returners. One of the reasons we need more accommodation is it is the only way to relieve the stress.
Lynda Mathey advised students that if they have any concerns about the noise coming from the building of SA5 to report it to their Head of Hall.
When you are developing the plans for this new building how much of a focus is there on the EER?
Lynda Mathey – Huge! We want them to be economic and sustainability is a big part of this.
How close are we getting to buildings that are energy sustainable?
Vice-Chancellor – The SA5 building is not intended to be self-sustainable but we can look at that. Renewables are getting closer and closer to the cost of fossil fuels and it is my view it is only a matter of time before that occurs. We’ve tried to make the SA5 accommodation as energy efficient and economic as possible. It’s certainly a reasonably energy efficient building.
Is there a plan to bring in student leadership when the new building opens up?
Lynda Mathey – We’ll be recruiting from other Halls, the selection will be done carefully to make sure we have a good balance opening up to older students for senior positions in the Halls. We’re starting work on that program in January. We will be consulting with students soon.
The Vice-Chancellor briefly mentioned the plans for the development of Union Court and the proposal to include 700 beds of accommodation to establish a residential community. He also mentioned the importance of communities needing critical mass.