Hundreds of UCL students have become that little bit more disillusioned with university after losing access to hot water in Max Rayne House and Ifor Evans Hall
Despite paying over £130 to be an inmate in Max Rayne and nearly £170 per week for the privilege of a place in Ifor Evans, students have been forced to go from cold rooms, to cold showers, and back to cold rooms. While it’s not entirely clear when the problems began, some students reported not having had hot water for two days now – raising questions on why UCL still hasn’t acted.
David Dahlborn, UCLU’s Halls and Accomodations Representative, said that the situation was a “fiasco”, indicative of UCL not properly investing in its accommodation. He went on to say that the crisis symbolises UCL’s failure to live up to its basic promise to students. His full statement can be read below.
Unfortunately, the victims are long-suffering, with one student expressing shock that the radiators in his halls were functional at all. What only adds to the nightmare is that Max Rayne and Ifor Evans are notorious for their alleged cockroach and mice problems.
That said, it does somewhat explain why they are UCL’s cheapest ‘house’ (non-catered) and ‘hall’ (catered), although doesn’t quite go so far as to explain why they haven’t been shut down.
One student/victim, Pascal LeTendre-Hanns, told Pi that “following this morning’s ice cold shower, I’ve had to get on with work in my cold room and now look forward to a cold night,” which sounds just about as icy cold as his tone.
Dissatisfaction with UCL-operated halls is on the rise within the student communities, with several of this year’s sabbatical officers having promised to make lowering rent and improving conditions in halls a priority for the year. With UCL charging up to £254.80 for a room (Ramsey Hall, en-suite), it’s unclear why rent increases every year and student accommodation is becoming more expensive than private rental properties.
Indeed, anger at the conditions of UCL student accommodation has resulted in an increasingly activist student population, with students in halls having held an assembly in which they made several demands, including the lowering of rent and transparency on where rent money goes.
While it’s traditionally been the hot, summer months that have incited riots, UCL may find it has trouble on its hands if it continues to leave its students in the cold this winter.
Read Dahlborn’s statement in full here:
“The breakdown of heating and hot water at the Camden Halls site is a fiasco and the last in a long line of disasters to befall the exploited students in Max Rayne House and the other halls in the area. Students have been without hot water for over 24 hours. This should never have happened. To me this is symptomatic of UCL’s lack of proper investment in halls and of an accommodation system that is run for profit and not the well-being of students. A functioning heating system, or at the very least emergency repair services, should be a given part of the standard of UCL halls.
The increase in rent that has been piled into UCL student tenants this year is in itself outrageous, but when emergencies like this occur it makes me even more disappointed. Breakdowns like this constitute not only a health and safety issue, but a failure of the university to live up to its basic promises to its tenants, while all the time raising the rent and running Halls with a massive surplus. This embarrassing trend has to stop.
UCLU has, as of Tuesday, in planning to run a campus-wide campaign to bring down the rent in student halls. I will also be working as hard as I can to get to the bottom of this latest crisis to ensure that those responsible can be held to account. Student participation at a grass-roots level is already active to take on the university bosses over rent and poor maintenance and their activism will be key in securing justice for the tenets at the Max Rayne/Ifor Evans site.
On a final note, I might add that my own boiler has just been taken out by the landlord, so I am in total solidarity with my fellow students who are suffering from UCL’s profit-focused policy in Camden.”
UCL Residences and Ifor Evans Hall haven’t, at time of publishing, replied to requests for comment.
Featured image credit: UCL