Exeter kitchen closed amidst hall boycott

College News News

Exeter’s sole JCR kitchen has been closed “indefinitely” due to mess found this morning, in the midst of a hall boycott.

A scout cleared the mess this morning with the help of a student who wished to make a meal.

The move by the college comes after Exeter launched a boycott of Hall over an £840 per person annual catering charge, described by some students as “extortionate”.

When contacted about the hall strike in the past, Cairncross has commented that: “The College has offered to discuss the costs of Hall with students, but these discussions have not yet taken place.”

JCR sources said the kitchen was one of the only ways students can cook while the boycott is ongoing.

Exeter’s Junior Dean, Dr Rina Ariga, said in an email to undergraduates that students had received two warnings about mess in the JCR kitchen.

She imposed both a fine and the cost of cleaning on the JCR, as well as the indefinite ban. “I have not locked the JCR this time. Should this recur, the fine will be doubled and the JCR will be locked,” she said.

“Sending this email gives me no pleasure and I apologise to those of you who do keep the JCR tidy. I hope those responsible will contact the JCR committee and offer to help pay the fine,” she added.

In a follow up email, Ariga requested that “the JCR Exec sends (me) a written proposal of how the issue of cleanliness will be addressed in the kitchen and common room […] once I receive a written plan of your solution, I will re-open the kitchen”.

On a conciliatory note, she added: “I realise that this is a stressful time for all during the Hall boycott.”

Ariga declined to comment further on the incident.

Richard Collett-White, JCR President at Exeter, said that those behind the mess “are extremely apologetic”.

“There are plans to draw up a rota of student kitchen-cleaners to ensure this does not happen again.” He pointed out that the Junior Dean who made the decision to close the kitchen may support the boycott herself.

“Students have been quick to condemn this as a cynical attempt to break the boycott – unsurprisingly, I think. At first glance, it does look that way. Especially when you take into account the forcible removal of a #CTCC banner hanging from a student’s bedroom window yesterday. I have yet to see photographic proof of the ‘almighty mess’ in which the JCR was found this morning,” he said.

“But we should remember that the Junior Dean, who ostensibly decides how to discipline students, is an MCR member herself and in all probability supports the student action currently underway at Exeter.

He added that the decision may have a negative impact on those who have health problems: “Locking students out of the only on-site kitchen indefinitely is especially worrying to those who need to use it for health reasons.”

Another student agreed with Colette-White’s assessment of the Junior Dean’s position: “She’s in a tough position being a member of the MCR and working for college. She’s a really nice person and very popular around the JCR so in our annoyance over the kitchen we don’t want to ostracize her.”

An Exeter student who wished to remain anonymous, commented: “I use the JCR kitchen regularly and it was in a bit of a mess this weekend. It’s never been exactly clean, we’re students and we leave mess […] we had problems last term keeping the JCR clean”.

Another student said: “the kitchen was a mess but at the end of the day we’re on boycott and so it’s necessarily being heavily used at the moment.”

The move follows unconfirmed claims published on Twitter by Exeter JCR that college authorities were forcibly removing banners protesting the charge from students’ windows.

“College break into student’s room, rip down a #CTCC banner, and chuck it in the bin. Kitchen’s been locked indefinitely. Way to go, Exeter!” the tweet said.

Lucy McCann, an Exeter student who is campaigning against the charge, said the kitchen is inevitably “going to be more messy than usual”.

“It’s hard to know what state the kitchen was left in last night as I didn’t see it. Rina has charged the JCR for cleaning costs so I’m assuming that it’s now been cleaned so we’ll never really know. From the start of the boycott the kitchen has been used by students living in as an alternative to going to hall; inevitably it’s going to be more messy than usual,” she said.