The ANU has had to place first-year students into postgraduate housing in order to meet the university’s accommodation guarantee. It is alleged that the university guaranteed 60 places more than what was available, despite cuts to the percentage of returning residents accepted by halls and colleges.
Manager of ANU Accommodation Services, Dale Brosnahan, has told Woroni that ‘it was very tight with the guarantee this year because we did have a reasonably high rate of people accepting their accommodation offer but we certainly did make the guarantee.’
Nine days before O-Week commenced, an email from ANU Accommodation was sent to new students who were yet to be placed in guaranteed accommodation.
It read ‘…we are in a very tight situation with almost all of our accommodation locations being full.’
Students were given the option to share a double room with another person in either Davey Lodge or Kinloch Lodge at an additional discount of $100 per week to overcome the problem.
First year resident Cat Muggeridge had applied to Unilodge in the hope of securing a single room. “I really wanted my own place where I could cook my own food… I wasn’t happy about [being placed in a share apartment]”.
Muggeridge, along with other students who requested self-catered accommodation, was given the option to be placed in a self-catered room in either Packard Wing in Bruce Hall or Laurus Wing in Ursula Hall.
First-year resident in Laurus Wing, Shelley Zhou, said, ‘my first choice was actually Burton and Garran, I wanted self-catered accommodation and I expected that if I didn’t get B&G I would get Fenner or another undergraduate hall. Instead I have Laurus Wing, which is self-catered, so that bit is fulfilled, it’s just a matter of being very separate.’
The ANU Accommodation Services Manager justified these placements by saying ‘we use all the available beds out of our accommodation range to make sure we meet the guarantee; nobody was displaced. We have postgraduate and undergraduate students scattered throughout all of our accommodation, more graduate focussed locations such as Toad Hall even has undergraduate students in it.’
However, concern has been raised about first-year students living in postgraduate housing with some attributing the problem to ANU’s guarantee accommodation.
Jacqueline Lange, a third-year Bruce Hall resident, said, ‘If ANU didn’t make a blanket guarantee when they don’t have the beds to uphold that guarantee then this wouldn’t have happened; and this is in spite them saying “we’re going to make all the halls and colleges take in less returning students this year to cope with the rising number of first years”…’
Roshan Dalpadado, a fourth-year resident in Packard Wing Bruce Hall, believes that these first-year students will miss out on experiencing college life due to placement in a room separate to the undergraduate community.
‘When you’re in Bruce Hall catered you get to mingle with people during meal times because meal times are set and people get to meet each other on a constant basis so can socialise on a more personal level and get to be more involved in Bruce Hall community,’ said Dalpadado.
While living in postgraduate housing, Zhou has had to be especially proactive so as to meet people and be included in sports and other social events.
‘Because I am not in main wing, there is a bit of a problem with me nominating to go for first year rep… so I didn’t put in a nomination because it was just too difficult,’ said Zhou.
But not all first-year residents share the same experience of living in ‘postgraduate’ areas of residential halls.
‘I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and be like “it’s so sad that you’ve been put in Packard, how do you feel not being in catered” and I’m like “this is way better” because I couldn’t get down to the dining hall by seven to nine every morning… so it has worked out really well,’ said Muggeridge.
The Registrar Student Life, Ms Lynda Mathey has advised ‘the University is conscious of housing pressure for students, and is seeking to juggle the demands of a high rate of returners with the needs of incoming students. There is a need to build more accommodation, an option the University is currently actively exploring.’
ANU Accommodation were able to place all students who were guaranteed accommodation on-campus and have not received any complaints or negative feedback regarding the allocation of rooms.