Image Credit: Peter Dean
In a major win for students, the University of York has paid out £16760 in the form of £10 Amazon vouchers, “in recognition of the inconvenience and disruption caused” by wide-spread Circuit Laundry failures.
Between the 3 May and the 9 May, widespread disruption at Halifax College’s laundry forced Halifax students to take their washing half a mile away to James college. The situation was worsened by the fact that James College already shares its washers with students in Vanbrugh Eric Milner. During this time five of those washers were also broken, leaving 1700 students with just 17 operational washers for an entire week. This was possibly the worst time to have 100 students per washer as this coincided with York Roses week, when there is additional demand on the University laundry services.
The University said that an electrical problem was first detected on the 3 May but after inspection it was deemed that there was nothing faulty with the laundry. After further complaints it was deemed that the issue could be related to low water pressure, by the 8 it was identified that the actual cause was a broken water pump supplying the laundry. The Accommodation Team did concede that there were lessons that needed to be learnt, including “for Circuit and the University to identify faults and fix them more quickly… the necessity to store spare parts such as pumps… and to plan better for such scenarios.” While the University has taken consequential action, such as storing spare pumps and compensating students, it raises questions over why the decision over compensation took so long.
It wasn’t until the YUSU Community and Wellbeing Officer, Steph Hayle, the HCSA (Halifax College Student Association), Vanbrugh and James College collected a petition of over 500 affected students that the University offered compensation. YUSU then had to convince the University not to just give students £5 worth of Circuit credit, but a £10 Amazon voucher. Giving affected students the choice over what to spend their compensation on. Speaking to Nouse the HCSA stated that they were “very pleased with the result of Steph’s campaign… The students deserve to get their money’s worth when it comes to laundry services. This compensation goes some way to acknowledging that.” Rachel Evans a student who lives in Halifax told us that while there were frustrations over broken washers, because “we didn’t know how long it would be like that for”, she was “grateful that they gave us compensation for the inconvenience.”
While this is not the first time students have had reason to complain about Circuit Laundry, it does demonstrate the importance of a Student Union and college style system in giving students a louder voice. The outcome of this campaign ultimately seems to have been satisfactory for both students and the University.
If you have ever been affected by what you deem to be poor service while using University utilities, or you experience such a situation in the future please get in touch with Nouse atNews@Nouse.co.uk