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Matteo Everett: “Maybe campus changes are justified”

Let’s be honest, we all loved open days, don’t we? Sure, the long car – or even worse train – journeys sucked, that sickening mixed feeling of uncertainty and excitement driving us crazy on the way home, but it was worth it for seeing a new part of the country, the free buffet (a reason enough to attend post-grad open days, final years), and the small glimpse of what your future might hold.

Well, the future your pre-university selves had long anticipated has been a reality for a while now, even for the freshers who, almost half way into third year, aren’t so fresh anymore. When you think of University Park Campus, your thoughts naturally drift to Science City rather than the Portland Building; you have finally got over the fact that the mystical-sounding ‘Mooch’ and the hipster ‘The Studio’ aren’t clubs, after all and the only exciting thing on campus is that fresh-from-the-print new Impact magazine which hits the shelves twice a term.

But wait! What’s this? A new screen, and terraced gardens? A pretty if unpractical, and downright – let’s be honest – useless giant chess set? And, most pressingly, a petition for a GREGGS, of all places, on campus!?

“Isn’t this practically Ancient Egyptian-styled self-indulgence, the university building monuments to themselves?”

Wait a minute. Didn’t I recently read an article that the university is under-funding its staff? How DARE they invest [insert large sums of money here] on campus when lectures aren’t even getting a minimum wage? Isn’t this practically Ancient Egyptian-styled self-indulgence, the university building monuments to themselves while other people go underpaid?

The critics need to slow down. Yes, the new campus projects might cost lots of money but there is a defence there, in a key word I used earlier: ‘invest’ment. All of these things are to make the campus more appealing, increasing chances of gaining extra investment from external sources, as well as attracting more world-class students from over the globe to attend UoN (trickle-down economics anyone?).

Furthermore, it is unfair to say that the university is sacrificing its staff pay for these apparent vanity projects. Abandoning these projects, and therefore avoiding these one-off payments, would not lead to sudden sustainable stability of pay for staff for all of eternity. Much like people need to balance money for the bills and the food, as 2nd year students might have just got their heads around, UoN, like most institutions, has a certain amount of cash it can allocate to investment, regardless of the current pay rate of the lecturers.

The Studio, which opened earlier in the year, has hosted a number of events which might have otherwise struggled to find a suitable space, such as the fabulous interactive musical Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, as well as a number of music and poetry nights since.

“We could all do with more sausage rolls in our lives”

The University of Warwick’s campus boasts a fabulous plaza and outdoor screen which nearly won me over, and Portland’s new changes are likely to have a similar effect on many prospective students. And as for the Greggs petition, our fabulous Comment Editor Ben Baruch asked me to do a piece on my opinion on that but I figured there’d be little point writing a 500-word article on something that can be summed up in eleven: we could all do with more sausage rolls in our lives.

Do I think UoN could invest their money more wisely, or, more accurately, more to my preferred taste? Absolutely. Quite frankly, the food court gets ridiculously packed and the fact that we don’t have a club on campus is a stain on the otherwise pristine white of our SU building (although preferably this would be on Jubilee, for ease of access for non-Freshers).

Seriously, the campus architects really need to see how it’s done at University of Birmingham. And also, is the gym in David Ross a joke?

But do I think that the university is perfectly justified in self-investing in enhancing its image? Absolutely. As the prettiest campus in the country, we’ve got a reputation to uphold, after all.

Matteo Everett

Image: Char via Flickr

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  • Boris
    30 December 2016 at 17:01
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    May I point out that the Den was a much more suitable venue for everything mentioned in terms of The Studio? The money would have been much better spent fully refurbishing that rather than creating a brand new space, which has been horrendously thought out in every way – tell me how we are to fit an entire band and gear on the stage? Impossible. Or plug in all the gear needed in a safe way? Also impossible. In terms of acoustics, the ceiling is far too low, and lighting is ridiculous as well – there are no stage lights? It’s a terribly thought out space, and if they had bothered to consult those society’s that rely on a space like that they may actually have been able to design a fully functional and usable space.
    The David Ross gym is something of a joke too. There are less or none of certain things that were provided even in the temp tent. The Dojo is excellent but that’s about it – the raise of price is wholly unwarranted also, an extra £80 is unaffordable for many. With a £25million surplus made last year they can more than afford to pay staff correctly and adjust the rest of their budgets accordingly and not to sack the staff that they did, regardless of building the screens, chess etc. It’s all superficial and considering we pay £9000/year it would be nice to see some of that going towards improving courses, teaching resources, libraries, and things that cater to the entire student body rather than towards the random and seemingly foyables, and ill thought out spaces.

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