The familiar banter of “Griffin ain’t a real Hall!” on the sports field may falter in 2013 as Fenner Hall pilots a program to take on 180 Associate Members. It aims to allow students of the ANU who do not live on campus to benefit from the mentoring support and social scene of ANU’s Halls of Residence and participate in the Inter-Hall Sports and Arts shields. In 2013, applications will be submitted online on a first come, first served basis – with first years taking preference due to greater need for personal and academic support. The goal of 180 sign ups by the end of 2013 would boost the population of Fenner Hall close to 700. This new aspect of the ANU’s strategic vision was motivated by the success of Griffin Hall – an initiative begun by students.
Although Griffin Hall has met with success after being established by ANUSA in 2010, there it faces challenges which stem from its members not living with each other. Community Assistants can find it difficult to keep in contact with students they are assigned to mentor. Coordinating sports and arts teams and supporters becomes difficult when members do not all live in a single place. Although Griffin has managed to compete with a degree of success in the Inter-Hall competition, it has not yet won either the Sports or Arts Shield. These difficulties contribute to and are compounded by the perception that Griffin is ‘not a real Hall’. The pilot program, in contrast, is based at a Hall with permanent residents. Will this difference eliminate the issues faced by Griffin? Perhaps not. What it will provide is an established community to encourage Associates to become active members of the ANU’s Halls of Residence.
The 2013 pilot program denotes a significant shift in the strategic platform of the ANU while validating the importance of the support provided by a College. The pilot program suggests that a Residential Hall can adequately provide personal and academic support for all students, whether or not they reside at the Hall. Although it appears that the ANU deems Fenner Hall to be up to the task of fulfilling this role, there are significant challenges to be faced. Potential resistance from residents may lead to the emergence of a clear resident/associate barrier. The Inter-Hall Sports Organisation has already voiced concerns that the program will merely allow for ex-Fenner residents to join sporting teams, undermining fair competition. In their pilot year, the Associates will not have a member on the Fenner Representatives Committee, even though they pay a fee to participate in its events. These problems are dissimilar to those faced by Griffin Hall, affirming that the program cannot simply be modeled on its predecessor.
Is Griffin a pioneer in the future of student services? Yes. Will other non-residential Halls be copies of the Griffin model? Unlikely. By using the already established services of a residential Hall, the ANU can begin to offer the benefits of living on campus to students who do not. Watch out Daley Road, for the times are a changing.