Concerned students reject ANU plan to move Fenner Hall residents on-campus
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Concerned students reject ANU plan to move Fenner Hall residents on-campus

ANU students living at Fenner Hall are alarmed about a proposal which would see them moved to new accommodation on campus and suffer a $50 a week rent increase as a result.

Sean Ding moved from Melbourne to study law and commerce at ANU and after four years living there was now the president of its residents' committee.

Sean Ding, president of the Fenner Hall Residents Community. He is pictured outside the ageing Fenner Hall ANU residential units on Northbourne Avenue.

Sean Ding, president of the Fenner Hall Residents Community. He is pictured outside the ageing Fenner Hall ANU residential units on Northbourne Avenue. Credit:Graham Tidy

"Fenner Hall is, first of all, not the most dilapidated building," Mr Ding said.

"There are certain colleges on Daley Road that are in far worse structural condition than this hall."

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Fenner Hall, the ANU's residential units on Northbourne Avenue.

Fenner Hall, the ANU's residential units on Northbourne Avenue.

He had concerns about a survey in which students complained about the dilapidated areas of the residence.

"Obviously at the time that we filled out the survey, we did not know what it would be used for ... I mean we asked for kitchens – we didn't ask for another building," he said.

Mr Ding said $50 extra per week was not something many students would be able to afford.

"A lot of Fenner's residents do come from lower socio-economic backgrounds," he said.

"They are often self-supported, they work part-time jobs, I know a lot of people who work more than one [job], and a lot of them are on Centrelink."

He said being moved on-campus would destroy a unique part of Fenner Hall's community.

The university's executive director of administration and planning, Chris Grange, said Fenner Hall's maintenance costs were too high to make it a viable asset.

"We're up for at least $12 million of relatively priority works over the next two years or so," Mr Grange said.

"It's not cost efficient for us to spend that amount of money on a 50-year-old building, because we'll be spending more and more money on it as the years go by," he said.

Mr Grange said the relocation proposal was based on student responses to the 2015 survey.

International students such as Fiona Tan were also concerned.

"We are already paying a substantial amount just to go to ANU … everyone thinks that our parents pay for us but no, a lot of us do work for our own monthly rent," Ms Tan said.

Cost increases were a critical issue because international students could not work more than 20 hours a week as part of their visa requirements.

Mr Grange says there is no easy fix for the cost increase.

"If we spent money on refurbishing Fenner, that would result in the same level of rent increase," he said.

"We've got to do some work on that price increase, we acknowledge that's a problem and we're trying to work out how we can solve that."

Mr Grange wanted to assure students that no decisions have been made.

"We're in a process of consultation and trying to work out whether that's a viable solution," he said.

A senior resident at Fenner Hall, Merryn Fraser, said when she heard the Fenner relocation proposal she "nearly cried".

"I don't feel like we've been properly consulted on this matter but they have still left the door open to start consulting with us now," Ms Fraser said.

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