Students offered rent rebates as delayed construction work stretches into exam period

By and Waseem Mohamed

First-year students living in St Cuthbert’s Society’s Parson Field accommodation have raised concerns regarding disruptive construction work going on at the site, which started in November 2021 and has now been extended to continue during exam season.

Students have requested rent rebates in emails to the College complaining about the “relentless” disturbances on multiple occasions. At first these demands were met with little response, but residents were informed this week by Principal Professor Tammi Walker that a rebate agreement had been organised with the Pro-Vice Chancellor last year but that this had not been communicated to students or put into action “due to an administrative error”.

The building work is taking place next to Brooks House in order to extend current reception and social spaces, including constructing a new JCR and gym.

One student told Palatinate , “To our dismay and frustration, construction has been delayed to finish mid-May when most of our exams have finished. Students are worried about the noise affecting concentration and increasing the already high-stress levels of exams.” The student, who suffers from chronic pain, highlighted the problems caused for students with health conditions, explaining that going to study spaces like the library to sit exams, which are mostly online this year, is “not always feasible” due to their condition.

A University spokesperson told Palatinate, that “strategies for pausing noisy construction work during the exam period” are being explored, but affected students are yet to have these measures confirmed to them.

Often, the construction will make my dorm walls vibrate.

St Cuthbert’s society student

According to one first-year, there has been “constant construction and loud noise with merely a warning email and a heads up before term that there was going to be work done”. Another said that “the noise has been startling as well as relentless, often waking me up outside of the typical work hours. Often, the construction will make my dorm walls vibrate.”

There have also been reports of students being hit with sparks from unnetted metal grinding “flying over the construction borders” and onto a walkway designated for students”.

Walker responded to these complaints, saying “the area is well managed and segregated”, and that there would be “no more cutting and there should be no further issues of this nature”. According to the University these concerns were investigated promptly after the College was informed of the incidents and the site was “deemed to be operating safely” addressed with the building contractor’s health and safety teams the day after the College was informed of the incident.

Walker told Palatinate that the construction work would result in “significant improvements for students with new accommodation and facilities” and stressed that the College has “sought to minimise the impact on students” and will continue to do so. She went on to apologise for “any disruption caused” and welcome discussion between staff and students in the College’s weekly feedback sessions on Teams.

A University spokesperson offered further comment: “We recognise the concerns of students and appreciate the understanding they have shown towards the fact that construction work was delayed, and we can only apologise for this. Any students with concerns about potential disruption due to the construction work should continue to discuss these with the College.”

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