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Cambridge students forced to go cold amidst heating cuts

Selwyn and Lucy Cavendish students complain about heating cuts as the weather gets colder


Despite belonging to the richest university in the UK, some colleges at the University of Cambridge have implemented heating cuts, leaving students in the cold as the weather takes a turn. Selwyn College told its students that it is “grateful to all those investing in bedsocks, gilets, vests and blankets to help support this attempt to reduce our carbon footprint” amidst a period of severely reduced heating scheduled to last until 15th November. Meanwhile, students at Lucy Cavendish College have had their hot water and heating turned off in the middle of the day as part of a reported trial they were not previously informed of.

The heating cuts at Selwyn have sparked backlash as Varsity reported on students complaining their heating was only turned on after 18th October, despite previous information implying it would operate from the start of the month.

A college spokesperson has since informed The Tab that it is “not true that heating was not turned on until after 18th October. There were some local and limited problems in one court which were speedily put right, but most students were unaffected”.

Image credit: Vedika Mandapati

However, heating at Selwyn remains compromised. In an email communication, the college Bursar informed students “from 1st October to the 15th November heating is on in residences from 7am-9am and 7am-9pm” and will not be available all day until after these dates.

The measure, labelled as an attempt to reduce the College’s carbon footprint, also has financial motivations. A Selwyn spokesperson has informed The Tab that “heating costs to colleges have risen by 100 per cent or more in some cases, so it is a simple statement of fact that reduced consumption will help mitigate those effects on our budgets.”

Though the move was intended to reduce the financial burden put on students by the cost of living crisis, a student told Varsity: ‘The rent should not have increased by this much if the heating is limited the way it is”, with rent having increased ten per cent at the start of this academic year.

Image credit: Mathilda Head

The Selwyn spokesperson has commented “the Selwyn heating programme was approved by college students through the accommodation committee and then the college council on both of which the JCR and MCR are represented. The idea of reducing hours came from the college’s sustainability working group, which is an initiative heavily involving students. In other words, this has been a collective decision, democratically taken”.

Lucy Cavendish students have also faced new heating restrictions, with students finding their heating and hot water shut off in the middle of the day and at night without prior warning. The trial, “thought to better fit students’ working hours”, was not raised with students until the JCR approached the College seeking clarification about the cuts.

A student at Lucy Cavendish has told The Tab: “The heating has been down in Collegiate Castle street for about a week, and today they sent a proud email telling us it was back on [but] it hasn’t in many parts of the building. The water supply cut in the middle of the night and into the morning. It is back on now, but there is no hot water.” They have expressed disappointment at the College’s incompetency at “dealing with anything compassionately or quickly” and believe they “should be ashamed.”

Image credit: Vedika Mandapati

Lucy Cavendish College and The University of Cambridge have been contacted for comment. A Selwyn College spokesperson has commented throughout the article. 

Featured Image Credit: Mathilda Head

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