As is tradition, the president normally writes out an end of term letter to the students. Instead of simply reminiscing on the last term (which has been really great!), I would rather update you all on what the GCR committee has been doing regarding our imminent move to Sheraton Park. We recognize that it has been a long time (since about September) since we’ve given any official updates on Sheraton Park and what exactly is going on. We apologize to you all for this as its always been one of our main goals to keep our students informed about any upcoming developments with the move. The main reason for the delay is simply that we have only started meeting with the university in the last month or so.
As many of you are aware, in September, University Council voted to relocate Ustinov to Sheraton Park. First and foremost, the GCR Committee would like to communicate its gratitude to all of those who helped to resist the move. From the point at which the decision was taken right up until this very moment, we have fought to uphold the standards that we believe are essential for a positive Ustinovian student experience. The move to Sheraton Park is not something that any of us wanted, but we have a duty to our future and current students. We will work to ensure that standards at Sheraton Park are as high as possible in order to maintain a sustainable GCR and a thriving postgraduate community. We are working with the university, college management, and the local residents in order to achieve this. We would like to update you with the information that we’ve gathered so far and invite you all to attend another Town Hall meeting (see below) with the university.
This is to take place in two stages. The first stage will be next year (2017-18), in which Ustinov College will operate across two sites: Sheraton Park and Howlands Farm. Josephine Butler will also increase and obtain what is now Redwood. By the following academic year (2018-19), Ustinov will fully vacate the Howlands Farm site and run solely from Sheraton Park. John Snow College and George Stephenson College will then share what was the Ustinov site at Howlands farm until one of them is permanently moved to a new site in the following academic year (2019-20).
Glenn McGregor and I sit on the Howlands Farm Working Group. This group consists of student and staff representatives from the two Queen’s campus colleges (Snow and Stephenson) and from Josephine Butler. Alice Dee, the DSU president and Siân Broadhurst, Executive officer to the Vice Chancellor also sit on the committee. Tim Burt, as acting pro-vice chancellor of Colleges and Student Experience, has acted as the chair for this working group. In our meetings we are drawing out plans for how each of the colleges will cope with and adjust to the move in both the 2017-18 academic year and, after Ustinov has fully vacated the site in the 2018-19 academic year. In addition, the GCR is currently drafting detailed plans for the academic year 2017-18. These plans will dictate how we will manage ourselves both as a committee but also within the larger Ustinov community in order to provide students both at Sheraton Park and Howlands Farm with the best possible student experience.
There is also a Sheraton Park Working Group which consists of members of the College Management Team, the university’s Estates and Buildings team, Siân Broadhurst, Tim Burt (chair), and representatives of the GCR executive committee (myself, Joe Farrow and Jamie Graham). This group sees to the development of Sheraton Park, its current and future facilities, and the future of our operational strategy as a college. As a result of these meetings, planning permission for the bar/café/social space is currently being sought. Shortly after, the college will be applying for a club premises license (what we currently have at Fisher House) for our new bar. The university seeks to consult the students on how the bar will look and address any new questions that have arisen since the decision has been taken.
There will be a Town Hall Meeting on 18 January at 5pm in Fisher House (café).
This is your chance to ask the university questions about the new site. Now that decisions have been made, the university can perhaps provide more clarity and insight as to the new changes to take place since September. There are now more developments in place for essential facilities such as a bar, MUGA, music room, etc. These were things that were faint possibilities only months ago and have now started to take form and your input is extremely important to make sure the university provides Ustinov with a world-class student experience.
That being said, whether you are returning home or remaining in Durham, I hope you have a fabulous holiday season & a big ‘Season’s Greetings’ to you all!