Exeter students boycotting Hall

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Students boycotting Hall at Exeter over an “extortionate” catering charge are calling for help from other colleges this week.

A Facebook page, “Exeter College Hallternatives”, had 491 likes at the time of writing and is designed to allow students at other colleges the chance to offer Exeter student places in their Hall.

The College’s catering charge currently stands at £840 a year, making it the second-most expensive college in Oxford according to OUSU statistics.

Sources at the campaign claim that when the Catering Charge is factored in, the cost of eating three meals a day in Hall for someone living in is around £13 a day.

It is understood that costs for someone living out, which most Exeter students do for at least one year, will be much higher. Such students still have to pay a “living out” catering charge.

Nathan Ellis, a second-year student English at Exeter who is involved in the campaign, said students at the college were “incredibly pissed off” about the charge.

“Exeter is the most expensive college in Oxford and has the worst student satisfaction for accommodation. All the students at Exeter are incredibly pissed off that college continue to ignore our requests to engage in discussion about the catering charge and this has forced us into action,” he said.

“We will be boycotting Hall until we can see that they are taking our concerns seriously and on Wednesday afternoon we will be having a peaceful protest in college. We are doing all of this to demonstrate to the College that we aren’t going to put up with them taking the piss any more.”

The £840 charge is a flat obligatory rate on all students, which does not entitle them to any food. Any meals purchased are paid for on top of this initial rate.

Last week, Exeter’s Rector Frances Cairncross said: “The College has offered to discuss the costs of Hall with students, but these discussions

Students boycotting Hall at Exeter over an “extortionate” catering charge have this week called for help from other colleges. The Facebook page, “Exeter College Hallternatives”, had 481 likes at the time of writing and is designed to allow students at other colleges the chance to offer Exeter students guest places in their Hall.

The College’s catering charge currently stands at £840 a year, making it the second-most expensive college in Oxford according to OUSU statistics. Sources at the campaign claim that when the catering charge is factored in, the cost of eating three meals a day in Hall for someone living in is around £13 a day.

It is understood that costs for someone living out, as most Exeter students do for at least one year, will be much higher. Such students still have to pay a “living out” catering charge.

Nathan Ellis, a second-year English student at Exeter who is involved in the campaign, said students at the college were “incredibly pissed off” about the charge.

“Exeter is the most expensive college in Oxford and has the worst student satisfaction for accommodation. All the students at Exeter are incredibly pissed off that College continue to ignore our requests to engage in discussion about the catering charge and this has forced us into action,” he said.

“We will be boycotting hall until we can see that they are taking our concerns seriously and on Wednesday afternoon we will be having a peaceful protest in college. We are doing all of this to demonstrate to the College that we aren’t going to put up with them taking the piss any more.”

The £840 charge is a flat obligatory rate on all students, which does not entitle them to any food. Any meals purchased are paid for on top of this initial rate.

Last week, Exeter Rector Frances Cairncross said: “The College has offered to discuss the costs of Hall with students, but these discussions have not yet taken place.”

A motion to boycott Hall passed an extraordinary meeting of the JCR in 4th week, with more than a hundred students in support. The boycott began on Monday of fifth week, with a launch party on Sunday.

During the extraordinary meeting, concerns were raised over the fact that there is only one JCR kitchen available for student use.  “During the meeting, students discussed the difficulties of the planned boycott at length. This included the problem of there being only one small JCR kitchen for such a large number of people, making it a challenge for students to prepare nutritious meals for an extended period of time,” JCR President Richard Collett-White stated in an email.

A similar hall boycott took place in Trinity last year, after which, according to a third-year leading the campaign, the Governing Body pledged to explore alternatives to the catering charge by Michaelmas Term, to potentially implement by Hilary Term.

A document produced by the campaign said students were looking for an “explanation” behind the charge: “Exeter students hope for an explanation of why the Fellows have set charges at Exeter far higher than other colleges. We would like College to provide greater transparency and some concrete proposals to reduce student dissatisfaction. We will be significantly decreasing Hall attendance until the JCR are persuaded to end the boycott,” it said.

“Yet despite these concerns, 90% voted in favour of the boycott. Students also emphasised their readiness to protest the catering charge actively and visibly in the coming weeks.”

The charge has caused anger across Oxford. Tom Rutland, OUSU President, used Exeter as an example of unreasonable living costs when he wrote to the Vice-Chancellor last year about his comments regarding £18k tuition fees.

 

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