DURING my second year at King’s, I decided to become a Resident Assistant (RA) at Hampstead Halls. What seemed like a decently-paid cushy job proved to be somewhat different.
While I officially only worked a few hours a week, living at your workplace means you are effectively always on duty.
In charge of “student welfare”, I was frequently approached rushing out to lectures and I was even woken up at 3am to deal with emergencies. I was responsible for whole buildings full of residents, a task I found impossible to wholly fulfil.
The sewage pipes got blocked, consequently leading to disgusting flooding of the lower floors. Some very dedicated managers and RAs went beyond the call of duty in clearing up this mess.
Fridges often broke down, spoiling food that students couldn’t afford to waste. The heating system was a never-ending tale of sweltering summers and freezing winters. Not to mention the Wi-Fi – especially awful, even by King’s standards.
The highly experienced managers, security and the handyman on-site were brilliant in responding to these issues, but what happens when they are no longer there to help?
King’s has recently abolished live-in managers altogether and cut the amount of security. Even worse is that the new managers are responsible for several different sites.
They lack a personal connection to students, RAs and other staff. It can take off-site management more than an hour to get there if an incident occurs.
This delay is bad enough when a pipe bursts, but it could be disastrous if a student tries to harm themselves.
It is inevitable that in an environment with hundreds of new students, mental health issues – especially around exams – are prevalent.
RAs are trained to spot situations where someone may be in trouble, but it is naive to expect a relatively young adult to remain calm without outside support. I, myself, had never called an ambulance before last year.
King’s seems to be depriving students of welfare nets in the name of cost-cutting and efficiency. I am ashamed of the universityís irresponsible attitude, putting students in danger and exploiting those who work for them.
We need more investment in student welfare in halls and a new attitude from the College.
The College should therefore stop acting like a business, so students remain students, not customers.