Sam Fearnley reports on the recently announced rent strike hearing, which will see last year’s Campbell House residents given a platform for their complaints
The ongoing Campbell House rent strike dispute may be on the verge of conclusion, after UCL agreed to a hearing on Monday 12th October. The hearing should settle UCL’s position on the matter. If there is still notable disparity between UCL and the complainants, then an appeal to an external regulator will be made.
Former student tenants of the Taviton Street Hall of Residence have said that they were unable to study because of the major construction works on the neighbouring Wates House during the 14/15 academic year. The residents are demanding to be refunded the equivalent of one term’s rent.
The hearing will be chaired by Professor Anthony Smith, Vice Provost of Education and Student Affairs, and there will be two other panel members present: Donna Williamson, Faculty Manager for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Amina Lunat, UCLU Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer.
Nikki Carter, Student Complaints Coordinator, will act as the secretary to the Complaints Panel, while Andy Saffery, Deputy Registrar, will act as the panel advisor.
Colin Plank, Director of Property and Accommodation, UCL Estates, and William Wilson, Head of Residential Accommodation, UCL Student Residences, will also be in attendance at the hearing.
Former Campbell House residents have been made aware of the meeting, which will take place between 9.30am and 12.30pm in the Provost’s Dining Room.
This hearing is solely for those who resided in Campbell House last year, not for current residents or former residents of Hawkridge House who may have similar issues and complaints.
Campbell House residents have been encouraged to submit their complaints via documentation sent to them along with the invitation to attend the hearing.
David Dahlborn, who was last year’s UCLU Halls and Accommodation representative, will be acting on behalf of the complainants. He says of this hearing:
This is a dispute that has been going on since February and UCL could easily have taken steps to prevent things from getting worse six months ago. Not only has management breached the most basic term in the licence agreement – the right to use our study bedrooms for study and relaxation – but it has also caused harm to residents and to their degrees, well into the exam period. I have been contacted by many former residents for whom the poor conditions have caused both mental and physical health problems and who have been flatly unable to study in their rooms, before and during exams […]
I sincerely hope that this hearing will result in UCL meeting the full demands made by students in their complaints. This would not undo the unacceptable pain and disruption that this management neglect has caused, but it would at least provide a slimmer of justice that students have been demanding since May.
Dahlborn also described his doubts over UCL’s cooperation with the complainants:
Unfortunately, although I expect that the UCLU representatives on the panel will argue for the demands to be met unconditionally, it is probable that UCL’s final position will not reflect this desire for a fair settlement and there is a risk that this drawn-out and painful procedure will drag on to a review or an appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
The same goes for the dispute over Hawkridge House, where hundreds of former residents are still waiting for the announcement of their Complaints Panel hearing.
Featured Image Credit: Sam Fearnley