Hawkridge House Displacement Strike

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Tyler Leli
Tyler Leli signed this petition

Situation at Hawkridge House

    On Wednesday, February 26th, UCL Accommodation notified Hawkridge Hall residents that they will be forced to relocate from their residence between Wednesday, March 18th, and Friday, March 20th. This move will take place mid-week, mid-term, and Hawkridge Hall residents were initially told that they would have to decide whether to accept the move by March 1st. Now, that date has been pushed back to the date of entry to their new hall. Still, this leaves very little time to pack up our belongings, attempt to find new private accommodation, and imposes a serious mental, physical, and economic burden on students. As things currently stand, there will be no compensation for our forced movement nor the burdens it places on us collectively.

    As a home of international students coming from every hospitable continent in the world, finding new accommodation on short notice is especially difficult for Hawkridge Hall residents. Additionally, many students are required to register with the local police every time that they move, an added burden that UCL has said they will not help in assisting students fix. In fact, UCL’s response can be summed up as saying (1) you must move, (2) we will not, or can not to save our face, tell you why, and (3) you must do it on our terms (regardless of how this affects you). This is unacceptable.

    The contracts signed by Hawkridge Hall residents say we can be forced to move in the case of “catastrophic failure of services or the destruction/inoperability of part of your building necessitating closure”. UCL Accommodation and Hawkridge Hall staff have claimed that the building is safe to live in and meets all regulatory safety requirements, undermining their claims that our move mid-week, mid-term is vital. In light of the blatant lack of a rationale for moving us, Hawkridge Hall residents have a list of demands and a course of action we will take if these demands are not met.   


Demands

  1. An explanation of why our movement from Hawkridge Hall must be done imminently if there is no danger posed (present or potential) to our health from living in the building.
    1. UCL Accommodation has quoted UCL General Regulations as saying “UCL reserves the right to relocate you to the equivalent standard accommodation if your room becomes uninhabitable or for welfare issues”. As has been previously noted, UCL Accommodation has also stated “Hawkridge House is safe to live in and meets all regulatory safety requirements, with robust safety measures in place”. UCL is either lying about our buildings becoming a safety risk immediately or is attempting to renovate our rooms so they can move new students in and charge higher rents as soon as possible. If the former is true, we deserve to be compensated financially for living in a dangerous building, and if the latter is true then UCL does not hold the right to make our building inhospitable through renovations that are not vital and forcing our movement.
  2. In the event that UCL Accommodation and Hawkridge Hall can prove that there is a vital necessity for our movement from the building, we request the ability for students to choose groups of three that can be guaranteed that they will be moved into a new residence with this.
    1. We are not requesting that groups of four be moved into the same flats; that is not reasonable. Our request is that, if the move is proved to be warranted, then students can be allowed to move into a residence with the micro-community that they have formed while living at Hawkridge Hall. Many students go grocery shopping in pairs, share silverware, share books and school utensils, have study groups in the hall, and have formed bonds that are now forcibly being broken. We understand that accommodating this request will take time, and thus request that UCL Accommodation move the new room assignments to a date later than March 4th.
  3. Financial compensation of a minimum of ⅓ of our Term 3 rent for the mental, educational, and physical strain of moving to a new location, or changing the move date to the end of term if it is not vital to the structural integrity of the building that renovations occur before the end of term.
    1. As a hall of graduate students, most Hawkridge Hall residents are actually busiest in Term 2, as they are in the midst of intensive modules, are forming their dissertation research proposals and engaging in research, and are dealing with the other duties of being broke graduate students. The proposed move will take place mid-week, mid-term. Some students work part-time jobs, are involved in clubs, take many modules every week, and must spend time studying. If this move is not vital before March 20th, and UCL Accommodation has provided no evidence that it is, then the move should either be moved back until it is vital or students should be compensated for the strain associated with taking off from their responsibilities mid-week, mid-term. If the move will become vital, we must know that.
  4. If shown that Hawkridge Hall is unlivable, then residents should receive compensation for living in a building that is dangerous, and UCL Accommodation management in should be held responsible for avoiding a possibility to talk about this publicly.
    1. If Hawkridge Hall is unlivable or is in any way dangerous, we have a right to know about this. Furthermore, we should be compensated financially for living in a building that is a threat to our health. 
      UCL Accommodation Director of Campus and Accommodation Services Duncan Palmer and Communications Manager Sarah West were at a public forum on Tuesday, February 25th, and asked UCL Accommodation hall resident representatives if they had any questions regarding their residences. Both surely knew that UCL Accommodation would be sending out an email the next morning to Hawkridge Hall residents regarding our forced displacement. This shows a blatant lack of accountability and transparency, and a lack of respect for the students that they are supposed to serve. Universities are formed on the basis of accountability and transparency, so this intentional avoiding of public scrutiny is especially concerning. We request that they are either reprimanded in a publicly verifiable manner, demoted, or outright fired if this represents a consistent lack of respect for UCL Accommodation residents.
  5. If UCL can prove that there is a vital necessity for moving, then Hawkridge Hall residents must have an ability to look at their new housing accommodations before committing to completing their lease.
    1. UCL Accommodation has asked Hawkridge Hall residents to accept new housing arrangements without having the opportunity to go inside the residence where they will be living. This is unacceptable and shows a lack of respect for us. UCL has dedicated staff in most, if not all, accommodation buildings at all times of the day, and the rooms they are proposing to move Hawkridge Hall residents in are already empty. Students should be given a list of roughly five time slots, spread across a minimum of three days, where they can go to tour their proposed new living facility.

 

Our Course of Action

  1. We will refuse to move out of our residences until given evidence that our building is inhospitable.
  2. We will commence a rent strike on all remaining fees due to UCL Accommodation.