Storage space has long been an issue on campus as an expanding student body, and a growing list of student groups compete for the available areas. Despite attempts to alleviate the issue, prominent campus societies have told Nouse that the problem is continuing to worsen rather than improve, with committee members facing mounting pressure because of the lack of space.
In the January 2018 edition of Nouse, it was reported that the then YUSU sabbatical officers believed the opening of the new Piazza building on Campus East would bring an end to the issue of storage space as new areas in the building would be set aside for student groups to use. The issue has not abated, however, and student groups continue to lobby YUSU to fight for more space.
One room in Eric Milner-White A, a block in Vanbrugh College, hosts multiple societies leading to concern about equipment being moved or damaged. A spokesperson from one society which uses the room, FragSoc, told Nouse: “Since moving into our new block in Eric Milner, we’ve found our society tasks far more difficult than in our previous storage solution in Grimston.
“It’s a nightmare to access our boxes and sharing with other societies means we rarely see our stuff without at least a few parts being relocated or stacked with other stuff to make space for storage access. There is no coherent system. YUSU need to change it by moving some societies out, or sectioning the storage better. This is a mess.”
Not only have there been issues in terms of security and potential damage to equipment, student groups have also been forced to transport their equipment long distances from their storage areas to where it needs to be used. A spokesperson from ComedySoc, which also has its equipment stored in Eric Milner, told Nouse: “ComedySoc has gradually seen its expensive, heavy and awkward tech moved further and further from where we need it every week.
“I understand there is a shortage of space on campus and lots of societies competing for it, but getting our lighting rigs, mic stands and box of laptops down the stairs and across the lake is a risk every single time. It feels like we’re taking part in a Total Wipeout challenge - the only saving grace being that Richard Hammond isn’t narrating it.”
The problem is becoming so bad that some student group members are even being put off running for committee. A student who has been a member of multiple student group committees told Nouse: “I’ve definitely struggled to find storage space for one of the societies I’m on committee for. It’s such an issue that people are being put off running for committee because they don’t want their bedrooms to become store rooms.”
To the frustration of students struggling for space, there are areas of campus which remain empty. One example is the old Unity Health building in the centre of Campus West. An investigation by Nouse, however, found that the building is unusable because it has been scheduled for demolition by the University.
A spokesperson for the University said: “Campus Services are working closely with YUSU and the GSA to understand student requirements for activity space and maximise usage of on campus facilities. All feedback is very welcome and will assist with enhancing the student experience in this area.”
The current Sabb team have told Nouse that they are keen to finally find a lasting solution for students. Union President, James Durcan, said: “Providing better storage spaces across campus for our various student groups has been a top priority for the Sabb team. We have formally requested the University consider converting currently vacant buildings on campus into student storage space, in particular the old Environment Building in Market Square.
“The University has recognised that storage for student groups is an important issue and that they would like to work with us on reviewing the space need. We expect to be able to update students on the solution that is being put in place later this term and we hope it will be a significant moment for the importance of student life at York.