Fight the Forced Closure of the UUC Senior Common Room by University Management

In their apparent race towards soullessness and corporate mediocrity, those in charge of the University of Ulster have decided that the Senior Common Room (SCR) on the Coleraine Campus - which for many years has been a part of the lives of staff and students, and which provides a much needed link between the university and the local community - needs to be closed and replaced with a corporate dining room for use by the University's corporate elite. Despite initial cooperation by the SCR Committee in a proposed relocation, and reassurances that closure was not on the cards, the Vice Chancellor’s decision not to let the relocated SCR serve food and drink to its members and guests, and failure to provide a bar area, is effectively a notice of closure of the 42-year old institution. As such it represents the unwarranted removal of a vital facility and important social hub for staff and visitors to the campus. In addition to the obvious concern of staff & students, the forced closure of the SCR represents a concern to clubs and societies within the university structure which call the SCR home, these include the Alumni Association, UUC Rugby Club, the Glitch Gaming Society, UUC Fencing Club, UUC Canoe Club, and the Film and Poetry Societies all of which regularly utilise the SCR for functions and meetings, and find it supportive of and conducive to their needs, where no other space within the University has proven so. Furthermore the forced closure is a concern for a number of businesses in the local community which use the SCR on a regular basis, and represent what remains of the the so-called 'town and gown' relationship between university and community - these include Fairley's Wine Merchants, a venerable local business which uses the SCR's friendly space to accommodate members of the community for regular wine/whisky/beer tasting events - and The Listening Post - a local music promotion business which has been nurtured and supported by the SCR and over the past two years has hosted over 120 new original bands on it's stage, bringing audiences from Coleraine, Portstewart, Portrush and further afield on to the campus, in addition to being a central part of Council-funded annual Atlantic Sessions Music Festival. The University College Union (UCU) is actively concerned about the forced closure of the SCR as part of 'a systematic drive by the Senior Management Team to downgrade or do away with completely, any of the facilities for staff and students on the campus.' and that 'Overall the decision will have a significant detrimental effect on the morale and well-being of staff and will make the campus considerably less attractive to visitors. The timing of the decision, during the summer and after the closure of the staff survey, is also a cause for concern.' In summary, short of allowing the SCR to continue normal operations in it's current location, this petition is to ask the Vice-Chancellor to overturn this decision by the university's management team and to honour the original agreement set out in meetings on 8th January 2013 and again on 3rd May 2013, in good faith, which approved the provision of hospitality (including bar area) by the SCR to its members and guests and to provide a suitable environment in which to conduct business. Please help us try to stop the forced demise of a venerable club which has meant so much to so many over the 42-years of it's existence, and provides some much needed morale & heart in an increasingly soulless structure.

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Discussion

  • Ian Dodkins The management should be embarrassed that this has had to go so far. It simply shows the disconnection between staff and management that has been produced in the University of Ulster. What type of message are the university sending out to potential employees and the staff that are already here. Hang your head in shame.

  • heather manchester Learning happens inside and outside of the classroom in an academic environment. Common Rooms are vital spaces for learning across disciplines. UUC claims to be an institution that creates spaces for students to grow as leaders, however, I do not see how student voice and leadership is involved in this decision. Please, Reconsider and involve the current users of the space in the process. - UUC MA Peace & Conflict Studies, Class of 2010

  • Samantha Martin UUC professors Paul Arthur, Steven Ryan, James Skelly, and others taught me to ask the question, who benefits?when faced with a social decision. It seems crystal clear that only a few in the administration benefit in this case at the expense of the students, faculty and staff they supposedly serve. Reconsider. ~UUC MA Peace & Conflict Studies, Class of 2009

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