Newest Review: ... but I'll give you as best as I can insight to those I did do and those my friends did. I wont bother telling you about ones you are... more
Thinking about a hall of residence?
Halls Of Residence in general
Member Name: JOHNDMR
Halls Of Residence in general
Date: 21/05/02, updated on 21/05/02 (208 review reads)
Disadvantages: um.. (oh go on, just read!)
I approached writing this with some trepidation. Having spent both years of my Librarianship course at Ealing Technical College (now Thames Valley University), in the official college hall of residence, I felt fairly qualified to offer a few hundred words on the pros and cons. However, it was some time ago – in the 70s, to be exact. No internet, no CDs, no Channel 4; Jim Callaghan was in No. 10; and the Bay City Rollers were at their peak.
But students haven’t changed that much in the intervening years, and I’m assured that the benefit of my experience will mean something. Obviously prices then are of no more than historical interest, so I’ll forget those (in fact, I think I have). Hence zeros in the price box at the end.
The hall of residence occupied two adjoining houses at Hamilton Road, Ealing, W5, about 15 minutes walk from both of the college sites. There was provision for around 50 students and live-in wardens, a married semi-retired couple. Fees were payable termly in advance, and covered by the local education authority grant. Breakfast and evening meals all week, plus lunch at weekends [see below], electricity, heating, change of bed linen once a week, and use of communal TV were all included. Any electrical items you wanted to use had to be approved by the warden, partly as a safety precaution, partly to ensure that the local grid would not be overloaded.
There was mixed provision with one, two or three to a room, according to preference and allocated on a first come first served basis. Each had its own wash basin, and there were six bathrooms altogether. In my first term I shared a room for two. The other guy and I had little in common, but as luck would have it, the single room next to ours had been vacated within a few weeks by someone who had had a nervous breakdown and left his course, so on returning in January I was given that instead.
As far as I’m aware, there were
few if any cases of major personality conflicts, and people wanting to change rooms during the two years that I was there. However, the chances are that you wouldn’t meet except last thing at night and while getting up, maybe at breakfast and evening meal if you were at the same table, so if you didn’t get on with your room-mate, the potential for conflict was minimal.
Breakfast was at 7.45 on weekdays, 8.15 at weekends, with evening meal at 5.45 weekdays, 6.00 weekends, and lunch (weekends only) at 1.00. If you preferred to take your evening meal at the college refectory, you could apply in advance for a voucher to be redeemed up to a given price. Packed lunches could be booked at weekends and collected after breakfast. As I always used to take myself off into the city to explore museums, art galleries and shops on Saturday, this was more than welcome.
One or two people used to moan sometimes about the fixed meal hours, on the grounds that it was ‘like boarding school’. However, some degree of routine was necessary for the place to function smoothly. Someone had a row with the warden one hot summer afternoon because he wasn’t allowed to come in for the evening meal without his shirt on, but it was an isolated incident. (Eventually he walked out muttering and came back properly dressed).
We had a common room next to the dining room with a couple of daily papers, and where you could hang out, play cards or whatever. There was also a TV lounge, which could occasionally produce a difference of opinion if you came in while it was empty and settled down to watch an eagerly-anticipated drama, only to have to yield to a party of a dozen other residents who’d set their heart on sport or a film on one of the other channels. At least there was only a choice of three channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV) back then.
Twice a term we had an official party in the lounge. All of us chipped in, brought a bottle,
and were allowed to bring a guest, with one of the official college DJs providing a disco and full light show.
Both houses had a laundry room for washing clothes (by hand, supply your own powder) and hanging up to dry. Looking back on it, I’m surprised that there never seemed to be any cases of clothes being pinched (cue fetish jokes, if you must) or removed accidentally, so the system was down to trust and worked pretty smoothly. A kettle was also supplied for making tea and coffee.
All of us had a front door key as well as the key to our room, to be handed in at the end of each term and collected on returning. During my two years, as far as I know, we never had any breaches in security, break-ins or the like.
There was no pressure to hang around with the other residents. Obviously friendships were made, but we had a mix of students from all courses. I tended to hang around (and [hic!] drink) more with other students from my course in college after hours, particularly in my second year when I was Social Secretary on one of the site committees. (Which meant ready access to the SU office stereo, among other things).
Some of the conditions might seem restrictive, though they were for everyone’s good. No baths could be taken between 10.30 p.m. and 7 a.m., in order to avoid disturbance to others, and to ensure there was enough hot water to go round. Visitors were allowed without signing-in or any formality but, unless special permission had been obtained first, had to leave by 10.30 p.m.
Ironically I was given a single room close to the wardens in the second year, as they had marked me down as the quietest returning student there. You’ve guessed – one evening (in my last term, fortunately) I’d been out with some of the other library students and we all got somewhat drunk. They came and brought me back late, we made rather a noise going up to my room, to be met by the warden with a st
ern “Sssssh!” followed by an angry “You’re visitors! Be off these premises!” (One of the helpful ‘intruders’ found this hysterically funny and apparently spent the next few days telling us how proud he was to have been thrown out!)
Nearly everyone else respected the ‘no noise too late’ rule. Once in the second term I was woken up after midnight by three or four residents who had come back from the pub and couldn’t resist a bit of accapella “bop-bop, showaddy-waddy-bop-bop”. Thanks, guys - not. Ironically one of them, who had the next room and was a mate of mine (most of the time), asked me a few evenings later if I could keep my voice and (acoustic) guitar a bit quieter while he was finishing his essay.
One of the most obvious advantages of being in a community like this became apparent about three weeks into my first term. I’ll keep the details to a minimum. But suffice to say I was knocked down on a pedestrian crossing on the North Circular Road by an articulated lorry one morning (I was sober at the time, honest), and fortunate to end up in hospital with not much more than a broken collarbone and a certain amount of bruising. I discharged myself from hospital within just over 24 hours, which was long enough. Having plenty of people around at the hall during the next fortnight or so when I had my arm in a sling helped, particularly for the first couple of days when I could only dress myself with difficulty.
From my own experience, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. All us prospective residents were required to attend a short interview with the warden before their application was accepted, so we knew exactly what was expected of us. He admitted that the regime, while not totally Liberty Hall, was more liberal than most of the private accommodation. Students of 19-20 aren’t expected to be total angels.
preparing for university and think a hall of residence would suit you, apply in good time. Basic conditions, deadlines and the like should be in the prospectus and on the website. I was interested to note from the current prospectus that Plymouth Uni, very close to where I work, has 1800 rooms in halls guaranteed for first-year students, subject to certain criteria being met. How this compares with others up and down the country I can’t say, but if that’s typical, it sounds like a fair chance for all.
Let’s face it, leaving home and going away 200 miles to college is quite an upheaval. In my case, I’d also been working full-time for two years after leaving school at 17 with A-levels, and returning to full-time study meant making a few adjustments. Having a hall of residence where more or less everything within reason is provided helps to cushion the big change. When you’re becoming a student again, you don’t really want to have to worry about insalubrious accommodation or unscrupulous landlords (cue memories of Leonard Rossiter as the seedy Rigsby in ‘Rising Damp’, one of our favourite sitcoms at the time) as well as everything else, do you?