The Students’ Union is moving from Helmore 125 to Peter Taylor House!
The story so far…
from your 16-17 President, Leigh Rooney
Office Move Proposal
Building work begins
SU opens in PTH
The Ground floor space of Peter Taylor House was previously the home of the ARU Nursery. Unfortunately, at the end of the calendar year in 2015, the University decided that they could no longer have the nursery open physically on campus. Rightfully so, students and staff who had caring responsibilities and were users of the nursery were disappointed to hear the news of the closure.
As a Students’ Union, we were against the closure of the nursery as it benefited our students on a daily basis. Nevertheless, the university had their reasons to close and so they did. We continued to lobby the university to ensure they were still going to support our students with their caring needs and since, there has been a series of recommendations and a ‘New Deal for Student Parents and Carers’. You can read our article outlining each recommendation here.
Mid way through the year in 2016, the University asked us if we would like to move our offices, currently in Helmore 125, into the soon to be vacant ground floor of Peter Taylor House (with costs being covered by the University). Initially, this offer was controversial and took quite a lot of thought because of the sensitivity around the nursery closure. After much deliberation, we decided that accepting this offer would not only benefit the provision of the services the Students’ Union provides, but the overall student experience of those studying on the Cambridge campus. The space almost doubles the amount of floor space we currently have in Helmore 125, which opens many opportunities for students that don’t currently exist.
There were many reasons behind us deciding to accept the offer of the move, including;
- Both the Students’ Union and ARU have strategic targets to significantly increase the numbers of students participating in on-campus extra-curricular and co-curricular activity. The Students’ Union will;
- create opportunities and deliver activities that make students proud to be part of the ARU community
- create spaces for students to socialise, collaborate and succeed, enabling them to transform the lives of others and deliver on our vision of students creating success together
- To do this, we want to provide;
- A comfortable, welcoming, flexible space for students to use how they please
- A space alongside our offices, allowing officers and front facing staff to interact with students on a regular basis, facilitating training, society meet-ups and 1-1’s etc.
We have transformed these ideas by working with external contractors and designers to make the vision a reality.
The most important aspect of the process for me, was to ensure that we consulted students in what you envisage the move to look like. So, in February 2017, in line with our ‘Save Our Space’ policy stating; “To gather and use student feedback when making decisions on the use of new space”, I ran a consultation process which asked a series of questions to inform how the space would be used. This consisted of an online survey and physical forums which all students were invited to.
I decided not to ask questions that would delve into the details of how the space would be designed, but rather overarching questions that would inform the detail. For example, the questions that were asked were as follows:
- What percentage of the space do you want to be relaxed social space?
- What percentage of the space do you want to be individual working space?
- What percentage of the space do you want to be group working space?
- If you were to walk into the ‘SU’ space, how would you expect to feel?
The answers to these four questions, quantitative and qualitative, were relayed to the designer who has been hired to create an environment in which students will feel most happy.
As a result, there will be:
- A variety of seating, sofas and booths
- Desks and power points to charge laptops etc
- A kitchen area for students to use with a hot water tap and a microwave
- Society lockers and a trophy cabinet
- Bookable meeting room with video conferencing facilities.
These are all things which shone through in the qualitative data from the survey.