Welcome to the new President’s Page. If you’re interested in knowing what the HUS is doing, or if you just want to while away the time looking at pictures of this year’s team, then you’ve come to the right place! My aim is that this page will serve several important purposes, mainly to keep the student body informed on what the HUS is currently working on, but also to act as a one-stop-shop for FAQs relating to Homerton life in general. As this page will be frequently updated, I’m eager to hear your questions and suggestions, which I can respond to here for others to see. Don’t worry – all identities will remain a secret unless your name is clearly fake, in which case the wittier the better.
“Extra Nights forms are the bane of my life. When will I be able to book my extra nights online?”
Worry not – you can now book extra nights via the online portal, Nexus. (Accessible here: http://rooms.homerton.cam.ac.uk/) Students can book extra nights to stay up or return early at least 7 days before the first extra night, and the accommodation office regularly updates the booking deadlines for each term. If you miss the deadline for any reason, you can speak to Anna-Maria, the accommodation officer (email@example.com). Vacation Study Grants are used to pay for extra nights, and you can apply here: https://nexus.homerton.cam.ac.uk/finance/grant-application-forms
It’s becoming increasingly common that students return early or stay up late for various reasons – sporting, academic, et cetera. This year I’ll be looking into the length of our termly room contracts, as some colleges include an extra week in the standard term contract. Over the years, the HUS has worked to make sure that if you book extra nights, you will be accommodated in your term time room, rather than having to move around college. If this isn’t the case, let us know.
”Why do Homerton have a sabbatical president while other colleges don’t?’
A good question. I am in a very unique position in being the only sabbatical JCR president at the university. Constitutionally, the HUS can operate with a sabbatical or non-sabbatical President. Two years ago, students voted to maintain the sabbatical role. The Union is extremely developed and offers many services, so the President’s role is within Homerton requires a huge amount of time and dedication. Additionally, unlike at most colleges, I represent both undergrads and PGCE students. The increased profile of the President (even though things like actually having an office space – very unusual in other colleges) also means that the HUS has a lot of influence in college. I meet bi-termly with the Principal, weekly with the Senior Tutor and frequently with other influential members of the college staff.
“What’s with the out by 10am rule on Travel Day?”
I’m thrilled to announce that there has now been substantial changes to the protocol in the past two years. In effect, the 10am rule has been scrapped for all students leaving on Travel Day! The system will now be that you have to hand in your keys by 4pm – giving you an extra 6 hours to move out. Obviously this is something that we’ve been pushing for, so I’m pleased that College have made this decision. However, please note the 10am rule still applies if you are leaving on a day other than Travel Day itself. College’s reasoning for this is that the cleaning staff need time to turn rooms around for other guests from conferences. Conferencing income is used for your benefit, to offset the costs of things like catering, so I promise that it is ultimately in your benefit that this rule applies.
“What’s the deal with the College Cat? Are we getting one?”
This has been a topic of debate for some years now, and it rumbles on. The short (and somewhat unsatisfying) answer is that discussions are still ongoing. The difficulty lies in who will have overall responsibility for it throughout the year, even if it is a cat that practically speaking ‘belongs’ to everyone. I’m still very optimistic that a College Cat is a real possibility, but in the meantime we have arranged for the ‘Pets as Therapy’ charity (and several of their dogs!) to host several sessions in Easter term as part of a series of welfare events to ease stress in the run up to, and during, the exam period. We hope you enjoy them. Woof.
“I’m interested in contacting a Homerton alumni about their experiences in their profession after leaving Cambridge. Can the HUS put me in contact with anyone?”
We’re working on it. The College is keen to expand its alumni network, and we’re liaising with the Development Office currently to see what we can do. The thing with Homerton is that because it’s such a young college in terms of undergraduate non-Education degrees, we have a base of alumni which is quite limited compared with other colleges (ie. it’s mainly women teachers). This will naturally change as the college matures, so watch this space.
“Why should I have to vacate my room for a conference guest?”
Put simply, you shouldn’t have to do this. Homerton is first and foremost an academic college, and students should be number one priority at all times, during term time or otherwise. That said, Homerton also run a conferencing business operating outside of term time, and this brings in vital income which is then (in part) spent on student service. So, if you are staying up outside of university term, you need to be aware that you may be sharing accommodation blocks with conference guests. No loud noises after 11pm…
“Why can’t we have tables and chairs in our kitchens?”
Because Homerton has no kitchens. It sounds crazy, but we technically only have gyp rooms on site, which forbid ovens and tables/chairs by law (it’s all very complicated, so you’ll just have to trust me on this). It we did convert the gyp rooms to kitchens, then the whole layout of the accommodation blocks would have to be altered as more kitchens would need to be built. This is because we’re only allowed a set number of students per kitchen, which is significantly less than we’re allowed per a gyp room. It sounds nuts, and I know it’s immensely frustrating, but for now at least we’re stuck with it.
“Why can’t I bring my own wine to formals like at other colleges?”
You can’t bring your own wine to formals, but if you purchase it from the bar beforehand, you are more than welcome to take it through to the Hall. College actually pay for all the wine provided at formals – the price you pay for your ticket is purely for food.
“What does it mean to say we have ‘sister colleges’ in Oxford, and are you doing anything to strengthen those ties?”
Homerton has two ‘sister’ colleges in Oxford – Mansfield and Harris Manchester. Of the two, in recent years we’ve organised more events with Harris Manchester, such as formals at each College, and competitive events for certain subjects. However, I’m interested in expanding this relationship over the coming year. Ideally, I would love to see a reciprocal scheme where our students could stay in Oxford (and vice-versa) at student accommodation rates over the holidays, especially if they wished to do so for academic reasons. The Principal has facilitated a scheme whereby any Homerton student can attend Hall at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. All you’ll need to do is let us know in the HUS Office the date you intend to go, and we’ll be able to confirm that with our ‘sisters’ in Oxford.
“Why does Hall seem more expensive here than at other colleges?”
It’s probably not as bad as you think. College operates three different prices for each of the food items it sells: one for external customers paying with cash, one for students paying with cash, and a third for students paying with their university card. The cheapest way to buy food is to use your university card, which has EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) functions. Every term you will have £180 loaded onto the card (see below for details about this), but you can check what you’ve bought and add more funds at Upay. What is displayed on the till isn’t always what you’ve paid! When the cashier types your purchase into the till, it shows the external cash price, which can be quite a bit more than the price you pay with your card. Annoyingly, this cheaper price doesn’t show up until you touch to pay with your card! If in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask how much your meal cost you. The cashiers will be happy to tell you! Almost all colleges, except us, operate a Kitchen Fixed Charge, which require students to pay anywhere up to £400 per term to subsidise their food service. Students at such colleges will pay their KFC and not see a penny of it. That money is instead used to make food much cheaper at the point of sale. Homerton, on the other hand, operates a Minimum Meal Contract (MMC) where students pay £190 per term, but are then able to spend that money as they please. The drawback is that food appears more expensive when you buy it. This was a point of contention a few years ago, and the Finance Office produced calculations which showed students are much better off under the MMC system. A student referendum was held on the matter, and MMC won by a landslide. In fact, recent tables show that Homerton is one of the cheapest colleges to be at. If you ever have a concern about the quality, price, or anything else about your food in college, please use the Contact page and let our Services Officer know. Bear in mind that you can always ask your server if you feel that you didn’t get a fair portion!