Since the beginning of term, I have had countless complaints from students about the state of their Halls of Residences, from break-ins to not having hot water for weeks on end, it was abundantly clear that the College’s promise of improved Halls was far from a reality.
I voiced these concerns to countless people in the College, ringing up on behalf of students in a bid to get them running water and heating - a job that shouldn’t be necessary, but I will continue to do until every student in Halls feels safe and comfortable in their homes - because without knowing your home is safe and secure how can you even start to worry about university work?
After the brilliant work of students in both Raymont Hall and Surrey House/Annexe, over 100 students signed a letter demanding a 50 percent cut in their rent, due to a whole handful of issues that they were facing, but mainly due to the fact that their homes had been turned into building sites without any prior warning.
I think we can all agree that if someone was going to build a four story building in your garden you’d want to know before agreeing to move in so you could firmly reject such a ridiculous offer. This letter gave management the shock they needed to finally start addressing these issues.
A question and answer session was held by the College and Campus Living Village (CLV, the company who now own the Halls), open to those students to attend. Students turned out in their masses to complain about the state of their over priced building site homes.
I attended every session to minute them for the students. However, unlike management, it was not the first time I heard these stories and I’m sure it won’t be the last. We’ve been lobbying the University about these issues since September and the whole of last year the Cut the Rent Campaign has constantly told the College that the privatisation of their Halls would be disastrous for their students.
Whenever talking about their decision to privatise these Halls, the College always try to drag the Students’ Union with them. They say the Students’ Union was involved in the process, however they also seem to ‘forget’ to add that the Students Union actively spoke out against this.
The Students’ Union asked for wider consultation with the student body, however this never happened.
The Students’ Union’s Officers have never and will never agree to rent increases for Goldsmiths students.
Having been students ourselves at Goldsmiths we have seen the detrimental effect increases in rent has on students, who often have to work more than two jobs just to afford to pay rent. We are here to represent the student voice and we will continue to do so.
Following consultation between the Students’ Union, student residents, Goldsmiths College, and CLV, an important win has been achieved for Goldsmiths CUT THE RENT and long-suffering students living in substandard halls of residence.
For the entirety of the academic year, students living in Raymont and Surrey House Halls of Residences have been facing a myriad of housing horror stories, including exploding toilets, infestations, invasions of privacy and excessive noise, whilst paying up to £170 a week in rent.
Following open meetings this week at Raymont Hall and Surrey House, I can confirm that student residents in these Halls will be offered:
A 35 percent reduction in their rent tariff, backdated to the start of their current tenancy agreement to all students at Raymont and Surrey.
To move to another Goldsmiths hall of residence, subject to availability, although this option will potentially mean the breaking up of communities and friendship grounds established within Raymont and Surrey House halls.
An option for residents to terminate their current contract, without penalty, and find alternative accommodation.
The compensation achieved by the campaign could amount to a rebate of over £650,000 pounds, returned to student pockets, for the duration of this academic year.
But the fight is not over.
Due to the length and impact of the disruption, student residents are calling on the College to increase the rent reduction to 50 percent, signifying their recognition of the severity of the conditions that student residents have had to live through over the past three months, as well as the fact that once again no one can tell them just how bad this building work is going to get.
Students cannot make decisions between these choices without this information so it is imperative that the College and CLV supply it urgently. The University also do not have enough rooms to move everyone to other Goldsmiths run halls which will leave many students without the option.
The Students Union stands with the Cut The Rent Campaign and the students who feel that this offer is not sufficient and will continue to fight for a better deal for students.