“They’re buying our silence” was the way second-year student Marina Pejenaute described her feelings after about the accommodation crisis which kicked off the year for many King’s students. This was a feeling that may be familiar to other students who have received £2000 in compensation due to the mistakes of KCL residences.
Many were turned away from the accommodations they thought they had secured when they arrived in late September due to massive overbookings. The Wolfson House management estimated at the time that over 100 people were turned away. This is rather a serious miscalculation given that the building’s total capacity is only around 270. Thankfully, the victims of this miscalculation were offered compensation. What is controversial is the seemingly random and sometimes dishonest way the compensation was offered.
Upon her arrival on the 17th of September Janka Velinski, vice president of the Hungarian society, was bundled into a taxi and moved from her Wolfson House out of the city to Stratford. At the time she was verbally promised £1,000 in compensation for travel as well as £750 as an apology. Concern set in as those transferred began to speak to each other. It quickly became obvious that in some cases those moved from the same place on the same day had been offered differing amounts of compensation. “My flatmate, who was also at Wolfson House, wasn’t offered the extra £750.” Others were apparently offered only £900 for travel despite having to cover the same distance.
After a week of silence from KCL administration after the oral agreement provided on the move-in day, some students got in touch to enquire about their compensation. Shockingly many reported that they were offered lower amounts over email after the fact than they were on the day.
Miss Pejenaute told us that “the lack of communication was what made me angry” as fears started to grow that the initial promises of compensation were just “empty words”.
While changing amounts of compensation may have just been a result of mistakes and miscommunication it was hard for those directly involved at the time not to read this flipflopping as deceitful.
Eventually as more and more complaints were raised the amount of compensation offered began to rise. To the surprise of those affected a total of £2000 was eventually offered to resolve the matter, with £1000 given for travel and £1000 subtracted from rent as an apology. Miss Velinski said that despite feeling “less and less annoyed as the amount of money went up and up” the experience has left her disappointed with the way things were handled.
While £2000 pounds has gone a long way, it was the process it took to get to this solution that annoyed many involved. This is especially true as the issue was allowed to spill over into the start of term time leaving students left chasing up the infamous KCL admin as the pressures of university work began to mount.