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Responses to your questions

Last updated 25/10/2019

ACADEMIC AFFAIRS

Q: I was just wondering if there was a reason that freshers needed to send in our transcripts/certificates by post, instead of an online form certified by our school and maybe giving a physical copy in person on arrival day? I’m just asking because as an international I remember it costing me a lot of money to send my transcripts, and then resend them after being told by tutorial never received them. The whole process also caused a lot of stress.

A: Miranda (HUS President 2018/2019) and Eugenie (HUS International Officer 2018/2019) brought this issue up with the Tutorial Office last term. They are currently re-evaluating how to deal with transcripts and are now planning to ask to receive transcripts online/via email, to save on postage and time.

 

Q: Can we have the bar opened during the day to revise in? And open on the weekends as well?

A: The bar should be open to revise in during the day and over the weekend. The opening times are posted outside the buttery. Catering said that there were a few occasions where the cleaning staff locked the bar after cleaning it in the morning, as they weren’t aware that it should be open. They have now been made aware and if you find that the bar is shut when it should be open, please let a member of the Catering Team know.

 

Q: Is it possible to get the LCR printer back in the LCR instead of the library?

A: We have spoken to IT and they have said they do intend to move the printer back to the Lower Computer Room, however they haven’t been able to get round to it yet.

 

ACCOMMODATION                 

Q: Are there any insurance services offered with the university or college for protection for the valuables in my room?

A: The College does not currently offer insurance to cover items in student bedrooms. In the past, it was deemed unnecessary in consultations between the Bursar and the HUS. However, since this question has been raised, the HUS President (2018/2019) has met with the Bursar to discuss the issue, after asking for further feedback from students during our Open Meeting and via a questionnaire. When there is an update, we will make sure to let students know.

 

Q: Is it possible for college to provide better desk lighting in South Court? Seeing that there is no main light in the room, it’s just too dark to work.

A: If you would like a lamp in your South Court room, please email hus-internal@homerton.cam.ac.uk and they will sort it for you.

 

Q: Since college has a composting system in place for hall food, could we maybe get compost bins for kitchens or some kind of central bin per building?

A: Sarah Culhane, Estates Secretary, has provided the following response:

‘Following an earlier request from the Environmental Committee, we trialled putting compostable bins in kitchens.  It was agreed that for each kitchen in a particular accommodation block, there would be one student responsible for emptying the bin.  Unfortunately once the bins were in place, they were not emptied and the compost bins were full of fruit flies. There are compostable bins in the bin area outside the Buttery and another compostable bin by Harrison House for those who wish to compost their food’.

 

Q: Why can we only have guests for three nights a term? 

A: The HUS has consulted with the Accommodation Officer and Assistant Bursar regarding this question, and we have received the following information in response:

In the Student Handbook (available on Nexus), it states that “All overnight guests are to be signed in at the Lodge and in the relevant section of the Signing Out book. This is for fire regulations.  […] The length of stay of occasional guests must not exceed three successive nights. Lengths of stay beyond this time will be considered exceptional, and must be paid for. Students are wholly responsible for the behaviour of their guests at all times.” This is the agreed Homerton College Policy for students staying in College accommodation. Virtually all rooms are are designed for single occupancy use and specifically for students, which is why they are exempt from Council Tax. Fees for accommodation are calculated for one person occupying the room for the year (water, electricity, heating, lighting). Also, additional residents put wear and tear on other facilities such as kitchens.

So while students may only have guests for up to three nights in a row, this is not limited to just three nights per term. There are various legal and practical reasons why three successive nights is the limit for having overnight guests. However, students can very often book a temporary additional room for a guest by contacting the Accommodation Officer directly by emailing accommodation@homerton.cam.ac.uk.

 

Q: Could we get notifications if an event under the D&E accommodation is booked?

A: Liv (Vice-President Internal 2018/2019) passed this message onto Paul Coleman (Catering and Conferencing Manager), who would like to apologise for the noise the recent event in the Fellows’ Dining Room caused. He assured her that this event was a very last minute, and that such events would not normally be held during term time. This should not happen again.

 

Q: Is there anyway we could please have a sign, similar to the one asking whether we want our towels changed, that indicates whether we want our room cleaned? 

A: Miranda (HUS President 2018/2019) has met with Penny and Donna to discuss this issue. The reason why students are not given a sign is that it should not be a regular occurrence for a bedroom to not be cleaned. The College has cleanliness and hygiene levels to maintain throughout the year, which is why your room must be cleaned at least once a fortnight. This means that if one week you ask for your room to not be cleaned, the next week the housekeeping staff will have to clean your room. If you would prefer for one week that your room is not cleaned, you can write a note to your cleaner and put it on your door. However, for the reasons stated above you may not do this for two weeks in a row.

 

Q: Is there any way we could get a text/email system for informing porters of noisy corridors so that its anonymous as people can hear phone calls through our doors/walls.

A: The porters currently don’t have a text system, but they can be reached via email at porters@homerton.cam.ac.uk.

 

CATERING

Q: Please could there be individual price signs in the Buttery in front of things like crisps, cakes, yoghurts, snack bars etc.?

A: The Catering Manager will endeavour to organise this for the beginning of Easter Term 2019.

 

Q: Can we have calamari in hall?

A: The Catering Team have said they will look into this, but that calamari is a difficult food to provide to a high quality in larger scale catering operations like ours.

 

Q: Could the radio station in the Buttery be Cam FM during rowing bumps season so that students can follow it?

A: Paul Coleman (Catering Manager) is happy to do this but will need informing of the dates nearer the time.

 

Q: For self-service breakfast in the Buttery, are we allowed to use our own plates?

A: Unfortunately this is not possible for health and safety reasons, but the buttery does provide takeaway boxes so that you can take the food back to your room to eat.

 

Q: I was wondering where can we find the nutritional information for Hall food. It would be amazing if it could be published somewhere/made easily accessible(without having to ask catering staff) for people who want to make more informed food choices. Thank you 🙂  

A: Paul Coleman has said ‘We are currently working on how we can accurately work out nutritional information and display on  menus. We are looking at the necessary software to make this possible . It is something that I feel is important and we will sort out over the next few months’.

 

Q: Can we get Guinness on tap in the buttery & new bar?

A: Catering have written the following response: ‘Guinness is a challenging product to have on draught and the volume that we would sell would mean that we would end up serving an inferior product as we would not sell sufficient and would result in large amounts of waste . Selling draught Guinness is not something that we intend to sell in either bar’.

 

Q: I don’t know if you have any say over this, but  20 pounds for formal is ridiculous, especially considering that 3 years ago they cost 13 and there has been no obvious improvement in quality of food or other change that could justify this. Can you please explain the formal price increase?

A: Catering have responded that the formal prices have gone up with the standard increase that we use for food inflation. Most formals aren’t £20.00, this was an exception for the Harry Potter Formal.

 

Q: Is there any chance of changing the coffee beans in the buttery?

A: Paul Coleman has said that he would be very happy to look at changing the coffee beans. The beans that they use at the moment are triple certified (Rainforest alliance Ethical and FairTrade). They have also chosen a bean that gives a strong flavour and can be drunk across the whole day and for many different tastes.

 

Q: Could we please get some more dairy-free cake options in the buttery and also have a jug of soya milk next to the jug of normal milk on the table where the sauces are?

A: Vegan cakes should be available in the buttery from the end of the week (week commencing 21st January) and soy milk is now available, alongside cows’ milk. Catering are concerned about the potential waste of the soy milk, and will only continue to be offered if enough of it is being drunk.

 

Q: Why are potatoes more expensive than other veg? In general, can hall prices be reduced? To spend £8 on a main, one veg and a dessert is so bad! Other colleges hall is so cheap (e.g. £3 for a main and a side)

A: Paul Coleman (Catering and Conferencing Manager) has said the following:

‘Potatoes cost more than vegetables, hence the difference in price. I’m not sure where the £8.00 has come from, as the average meal costs £6.19 for a main, side and dessert. With regards to Homerton hall being more expensive than at other colleges, this is not necessarily the case. Food might seem cheaper at other colleges, but this is partially because most of them have a KFC (Kitchen Fixed Charge), where students pay an upfront fee before they can use the catering facilities. This means that the food is cheaper when bought, but not necessarily cheaper when KFC is included. Homerton has asked the student body if it prefers KFC to the MMC system we operate (where you pay a smaller amount which can be used to actually buy food), and the student body opted to stick with the MMC system.’

 

Q: Can we get advanced notice when hall will shut early?

A: Dinner service in hall will end early, at 18:30, on nights when there is formal hall. Formal halls occur every Tuesday night during term time, and some Fridays and Wednesdays. The formal halls that do not fall on a Tuesday this year are: Wed 28th Nov, Friday 30th Nov, Fri 18th Jan, Wed 6th Feb, Fri 8th Feb, Thurs 14th Feb (Halfway Hall), Monday 18th Feb, Friday 1st March, Friday 12th April, Friday 10th May, Friday 31st May, Friday 14th June, Wednesday 19th June. These dates do not include subject formals.

 

Q: Can we have times the new bar is open somewhere visible please?

A: Liv (Vice President Internal 2018/2019) emailed Rob Gamble and Paul Coleman asking for bar times to be displayed more clearly. The Griffin’s and buttery’s opening times are now displayed outside the JCR.

Q: Where are the hall/formal hall menus?

A: The hall and formal hall menus can be found here.

Q: Does Homerton College have Halloween Formal Hall?

A: We don’t as it would clash with the Foundation Formal (29/10). We do, however, have many Halloween events surrounding the 31st. This year (2019/20) this includes: Halloween Cocktail Menu Launch Party (for the week-long Halloween-themed cocktail menu), Frankenstein’s Lab Art & Chill Event, Halloween Film Night, and of course the Halloween Bop. Further dates and details for these events can be found on the HUS JCR Facebook Page!

ESTATES

Q: Could we please get a sign in the CAV corridor near HUS that more clearly sign posts the Leah Manning rooms? The only signs for it are above the finance office and aren’t visible from the corridor.

A: The Tutorial Office have now updated their digital screens to sign post the Leah Manning Rooms, and laminated signs are to be put up around college. They are also looking for a more permanent means of sign posting. If you have any ideas about this, please email hus-internal@homerton.cam.ac.uk and he will pass on your ideas.

 

Q: Why is the gate that gives access to Paupers Walk from Harrison Drive always locked?

A: The gate opposite the D&E entrance was padlocked as a temporary measure due to the “Swinging Arm” that manages the closure being removed as it was broken. Estates have said that they are about begin works to the North wing project, so this pedestrian gate will become enclosed within Barnes site set up. The college, together with the main contractor are considering the best access/exit routes. Once this plan is formulated, information on the new pedestrian route will be advertised.

 

Q: Please could we move the ironing board from the Paupers Walk launderette to the new one since it has been closed down? There is currently no iron in the new room!

A: Housekeeping have now done this!

 

Q: Will the washing machines/ dryers in the launderette on Paupers Walk also be updated and made cashless?

A: They are being updated right now!

 

Q: Can we please get some actually functioning dryers? They all either swallow all of the coins or don’t dry anything.

A: If the dryers swallow your coins, please go to the Porters’ Lodge and they can issue you a refund. Unfortunately the dryers can’t be replaced at this time, but the Cav laundrette is being rebuilt during D&E’s renovations. New dryers will be installed then, and the college are looking to introduce a system that does not involve coins.

 

Q: Is there anyway the black gate (near Harrison Drive) can have carded access, being locked after 8pm is super inconvenient?

A: The HUS brought this up with ex Head Porter Gordon Murray last year, as students made the last request. Gordon said that this would not be possible. However, if you would like to see this happen, please send an email to hus-internal@homerton.cam.ac.uk with the reasons you would like to see this change, and he will bring it up with Senior staff again.

 

Q: Could you please make bicycle racks with roofs near the back gate (near ABC)? The closest one is currently next to plodge (which is relatively far in the mornings) and I really don’t fancy my bike getting drenched.

A: This a question for the Maintenance and Estates department, rather than the HUS, as we do not have control over the College budget. However, Miranda (HUS President 2018/2019) fought for covered bike racks to be introduced last year. College agreed to include this in the budget for upcoming building work, but we can’t be sure when this will be. It is likely that any new shelters over bike racks will be installed outside the Porters’ Lodge, rather than by ABC. Miranda (HUS President 2018/2019) will mention this again next time she meets with the relevant College staff.

 

 

Q: Would D&E residents be able to get a prospective timeline and other information on building works going on around us?

A: The Bursar is currently in the process of putting together a timeline for these renovations. Liv (Vice President Internal 2018/2019) has emailed her to find out when and where this will be published.

 

Q: Would it be at all possible to get fire alarm testing moved later in the day? 

A: The HUS address this with Heads of Department every year and have received the following answer. The fire alarm tests are programmed to occur on Thursday mornings, as this is the most convenient time for the college for them to occur. They can’t take place any later in the day, as the alarms would interrupt the general working of the college, including supervisions and meetings. Alarms can’t occur in the evening as this would be outside of hours. An extra Porter is timetabled to work every Thursday morning, as it takes two Porters to conduct the fire drills. Furthermore, the printed conferencing booklets say that the drills take place on Thursday mornings. Last year, Miranda (HUS President 2018/2019) asked staff whether the fire alarm could be moved to a different morning. This request was denied.

Q: Would it be possible to convert some of the current fire escape doors into proper access points with card readers? This would make access to certain parts of college simpler and smoother. For example the end of the South Court long corridor or the Door at the back of the West House laundry room.

A: Unfortunately, this is not possible as it would violate the fire codes that each accommodation block adheres to.

Q: Why doesn’t South Court have a launderette? And would it be possible to install a washing machine or two in the building? Or at least put more in West House? 4 machines really isn’t enough for the 150+ people living in south court PLUS all those in West House!

A: Frank (VPI 2019/2020) emailed Gary Sharp, Assistant Bursar, for information on this, and received the following response:

“The issue with South Court is that there isn’t the space to put in a launderette. With regard to West House, when the issue of the amount of machines has been investigated further, it has been found that students seem to want to do their washing at the same time on the same day, which is often on a Saturday, rather than on a weekday (evening) when the machines are often unused. The issue is not a lack of machines but a lack of machine use during the week and sensible planning of laundry timings. We have implemented new machines, which are also cashless, to try and improve the facilities but don’t feel there is a need to increase the amount of machines.”

 Q: Can we have a water dispenser in the foyer of West House? (not everyone likes the tap water!)

A: As is, the only filtered water in College is outside of Geoff’s office. This is because of the space it takes to store the full and empty water butts that fit on top of the dispenser, space which unfortunately does not exist in West House. In terms of having a dispenser like the one in the Buttery, it would have to be plumbed into the mains water supply which is again not possible in the West House foyer.

EVENTS

Q: Hi HUS, I’m just wondering why the BOPS are £4/£5? Hughes Hall bops, for example, always have free entry and two free drinks per person, as well as getting discounted club tickets.

A: Three years ago (2015-16), Lent term bops were cancelled due to disruptive and antisocial behaviour from students. The student population expressed a strong dissatisfaction about this. Last year (2017-18) the bops caused a lot of disruption to the college as well, and staff wanted the bops to be cancelled again for the foreseeable future. In order to prevent this from happening again, Miranda (HUS President 2018/2019) worked with the college to create a bop procedures documents, which outlines a set of conditions which, if met by the HUS, means that we can continue to organise bops. Below is a list of some of the conditions that the HUS must meet, and the relevant cost charged to the HUS:

Bottled water & Donuts – £310

Door Staff – £300

St John Ambulance- £115

On top of this, the DJ and equipment hire cost £280, and we spend approximately £50 on decorations per bop. As much as we would love to provide students with free entry to the bop and free drinks, this unfortunately is not possible due to this large expense.

 

HUS SERVICES

Q: Why is storage only open before travel day? I am an international student interning at the start the holidays and I don’t know what to do about my stuff.

A: Storage is a service provided by the HUS and is therefore student lead. Once storage is open and running, the Services officer and Services and Green Co-opt are the only people who have access to the changing rooms – this is done due to security reasons. Thus, storage cannot be opened outside term time as the students go home.If you get in touch with the Services Officer, or Emma (the HUS Office Manager ), we can direct you to some external storage companies!

 

Q: How does the camp bed system work? Do i need to ask far in advance and what is the cost?

A: To book a HUS camp bed, please come into the HUS Office during Office hours (Monday – Friday, 10am-2pm, 5pm-7pm). Please do not message a member of the HUS or the HUS JCR page to book a camp bed. We will then see if the beds are available, and if so we will book you in. Please bring the appropriate amount of cash with you (camp bed: £2 a night, £4 over the weekend, air bed: £1 a night, £2 over the weekend). You can then come and collect your bed during the evening office hours of the night(s) that you need it. You must return the bed in the office hours the day that you have finished using the bed. If you do not do so, you will be charged for the extra nights, and this will also mean that another student won’t have access to the bed that they have booked.

 

Q: Could the HUS stock graph paper?

A: Yes, we now stock graph paper!

 

Q: When is the college stash arriving?

A: The stash that is sold in the HUS office will be restocked after the stock has depleted. This will depend on how quickly the it sells. If you have order stash from Xtream and are wondering when it will arrive, check the order dates it gives on the website (at time of writing it says order by October 21st receive by November 2nd).

 

 

SOCIETIES

Q: Is there an active Arts Society (focused on drawing, painting, craft work etc) at Homerton?

A: Homerton does not have an arts society, however the Welfare Team do run ‘Art and Chill’ sessions in the buttery intermittently. If you would be interested in starting a new society, please email the HUS Treasurer (hus-treasurer@homerton.cam.ac.uk) and they will help you to set it up!

 

 

SPORTS & GYM

Q: Could we get some TRX bands in the gym?

A: There should be some TRX bands in the gym already in the green box next to the bikes. However, because they are quite old, Miranda (HUS President 2018/2019) has ordered some new ones which are now in the gym.

 

Q: When will the treadmill in the gym be fixed?

A: Sarah Culhane, Head of Estates, has said that she has put in a purchase order to Precor for the machine to be fixed.  They have not said when they will be here to fix the machine but if they have not been out in the next couple of days she will chase it up.

 

Q: Is it possible for the Sports Officer to publish the upcoming sports matches each week and foster an encouragement for people to go and support their friends playing? It’s a nice break from work, the football pitch is on site too! It would be fun and I’m sure boost college morale if people turned up to support our teams!And I don’t just mean an ad hoc sports officer advertises only when captains message her. I’d love to see her taking the initiative to message them and do a weekly schedule just like she does the results 🙂

A: The HUS Sports Officer has liaised with the college Captains, and from now on they will be responsible for creating Facebook events for their matches, which he will then share on the JCR page. A lot of matches are arranged/ cancelled last minute, and there are lots of teams in college, so the responsibility needs to somewhat lie with the Captains.

 

Q: Can the college gym be supplied with antibacterial gym wipes that students can use to wipe down the equipment before/after they use it?

A: Antibacterial wipes can now be found on the window ledge of the gym with the cardio equipment in it!

 

Q: Have the sports representation award sign up sheets already gone out?

A: You can pick up a Sports Representation Award form from the HUS Office. Just pop along during office hours and we’ll help you out!

 

 

WELFARE

Q: Dear HUS team, is there any chance the free sanitary products could be made available in the public toilets around college? It was great when you did it last year, and I find it awkward to drop into to the office when I run out of supplies. <3

A: The HUS Welfare Team have started this service again, and there should be sanitary trays stocked in the women’s, men’s, disabled and gender neutral toilets in Plodge, Cav (outside hall), next to the entrance to D&E (once building work has finished)and Conferences. If you notice that any of these trays are empty, please email the Welfare Team at hus-welfare@homerton.cam.ac.uk and let them know. Alternatively, pop into the HUS Office to collect some, text the welfare phone, make a request on the HUS JCR website or message the welfare Facebook page.

 

Q: Is there anyway we could please have a sign, similar to the one asking whether we want our towels changed, that indicates whether we want our room cleaned?

A: Miranda (HUS President 2018/2019) has met with Penny and Donna to discuss this issue. The reason why students are not given a sign is that it should not be a regular occurrence for a bedroom to not be cleaned. The College has cleanliness and hygiene levels to maintain throughout the year, which is why your room must be cleaned at least once a fortnight. This means that if one week you ask for your room to not be cleaned, the next week the housekeeping staff will have to clean your room. If you would prefer for one week that your room is not cleaned, you can write a note to your cleaner and put it on your door. However, for the reasons stated above you may not do this for two weeks in a row.

 

Q: The single most beneficial thing this college could do for my experience here is to get a college cat. John’s, Girton, Pembroke all have cats. Where’s our cat?

A: The HUS have tried in the past to persuade the college to introduce a college pet. Senior Staff have listed the following reasons as to why this cannot happen:

  1. It would require a member of staff to be available all year round to look after the pet. The HUS cannot be responsible for its welfare, as students return home during vacations. Similarly, members of staff take leave.
  2. College would be concerned that the pet might get into a room in college, and then be locked in there over the holidays, without any food or water.
  3. Not all of Homerton’s accommodation requires card access, and therefore the pet would be able to enter students’ rooms. This would be a problem for anyone with allergies.
  4. Some pets, particularly a cat, would pose a danger to the College ducks
  5. Foxes roam Homerton’s grounds, which might threaten the safety of the college pet.

However, keep an eye out for George the cat, who is a resident of Blinco Grove but likes to make day trips to Homerton!

 

Q: Why are vomit charges at least £50? Why are these charges not included on the bulletins for the bop? I am also wondering how the college is able to differentiate between being sick because of alcohol or genuine illness?

A: The charge referred to here is the clean-up charge imposed on students who vomit somewhere in College other than in a toilet/sick bag as a direct result of alcohol consumption. The charge is £80, which is in line with Cambridge taxi companies’ clean-up fees. This charge is imposed because a Housekeeper, Porter or (at BOPs) HUS team member has to clean up bodily fluids, which is not a pleasant job for anybody, and so they are compensated for doing this unpleasant job which falls outside of their role description. A list of the Dean’s Standard Student Welfare Charges can be found in the Porters’ Lodge and on nexus. For reference, you can also see them here. With regard to differentiating between vomiting because of alcohol or genuine illness, this is assessed on a case-by-case basis. A student who vomits due to illness would not be charged a clean-up fee.

If your friend has vomited somewhere due to excessive alcohol consumption and you want to prevent them from being charged, we suggest you try to clean it up as quickly and hygienically as possible.