It’s 4:52pm and I am frantically searching for an available computer room to access my files and submit my assignment. It took going up and down the lifts twice and two visits to reception to finally gain access to a computer room. The clock shows 5:24pm and I’ve finally submitted my work.
No university student, let alone at one of London’s most prestigious institutions, should be worrying about room availability alongside their studies.
However, it seems lately Birkbeck students are almost like strangers in their own university and finding a room is one of the major issues they’re facing. It’s no surprise that a movement has formed and petitions are being distributed and signed under the name ‘Space for BBK Students’.
The petition reflects the frustration of Birkbeck students, however, the discussions and comments that took place below the petition turned that frustration into absolute rage. Ruth Wyte, a student at Birkbeck University, wrote, “Considering the amount we are all paying I find it completely unreasonable that I have to walk far away from campus (and most importantly the Library which is now always full, with no computers available) to attend lectures. We are Birkbeck students and our lectures should take place on Birkbeck grounds only”. She also accused Birkbeck of ‘putting money before students’.
In fact, the accusations don’t stop there. ‘Birkbeck Students’ a member of ‘ipetitions’ has accused Birkbeck of earning a huge amount of money from room rental, which can range anywhere between 800 thousand to one million a year.
Now after this accusation has been made, the questions to address is what are students paying for at Birkbeck? I think we can conclude that Birkbeck students and their learning experience are not being prioritised. The Birkbeck Mission Statement says, “Ensure the College provides an inclusive working and learning environment for its students and staff so that all may develop to their full potential”. This is clearly not happening today. Students are being denied these facilities and other parties are being given priority. Facilities are a major part of the learning experience; it is an entitlement all students have.
To overcome the student’s mounting resentment Birkbeck must take action. The real problem doesn’t even lie within these accusations or the comments. The problem lies in the fact that students had to resort to signing petitions in order to express their anger. This could be a sign of two things.
Number one, that students at Birkbeck can no longer tame their patience and that room availabilities has been a major and persistent problem here at Birkbeck. The second and most worrying warning that’s being voiced loudly through this petition is that students feel their voices are simply not heard.
The petition, 69 signatures so far, has not been shared amongst students in the most effective way to gain more popularity. Nevertheless the issue it addresses is one that most Birkbeck students suffer from. The petition’s main aim is for students learning to be prioritised, more specifically, students are asking for a communal space where they’re able to complete their work whilst discussing it with their peers.
The silence of the library is not the most suitable environment for all of us to work, not to mention the lack of space and lack of computer availability. Therefore, it’s very reasonable for students to ask for a space which will only be for Birkbeck students and will not be rented out.
It is already frustrating having to travel away from Birkbeck grounds to attend lectures, whilst rooms are being rented, and the least students deserve is space to intellectually interact with each other and complete their work not having to worry about ‘no free rooms’.
Students need to be made more aware of this petition in order to sign it, as it is easy to assume that as it has only received 69 signatures it should be disregarded. However, whether or not the petition reaches its goal Birkbeck needs to responds to student’s voices. Birkbeck students must not feel like strangers in their own university.
image source: Steve Parker