Selwyn's accommodation has recently drawn criticism from studentsDuncan Grey / Geography /

A Selwyn student has told Varsity that they have been living with a cracked window since the beginning of term which has had them living with mould and 75% humidity, with no indication it will be solved soon.

The student described their conditions as “unliveable” and said that a porter told them it is “not okay to live this way”.

The student has spent £280 of their own money trying to address these conditions, and the humidifier they were given by the College was taken back by porters two days later.

The student moved into their room at the beginning of Michaelmas term to discover the cracked window. They questioned why the cracked window was not discovered and fixed after room inspections during the summer.

They sent maintenance requests in order to get the window fixed, and the College’s solution was to cover the window pane with a plastic sheet.

The student explained to Varsity that the fix was inadequate due to the unusual dampness of the room. With a humidity measurement device, the student found that there was more than 50% humidity in the room, despite a small dehumidifier already being in use.

Following heavy rain over the last couple of weeks, the plastic sheet on the window has since accumulated water, which has resulted in mould growing on the windowsill.

When the student contacted maintenance again about these issues, they were provided with a larger dehumidifier by the College. The dehumidifier was then taken back by porters two days later to combat humidity levels elsewhere in College, caused by recent storms.

The student explained that whilst the porters assured them that they would return the dehumidifier, this has still not been the case after a week.

The student told Varsity that during this time, the humidity levels in their room rose to 75%. The medically recommended level of humidity is between 40 and 60%. 

This, combined with the increasingly colder temperatures and the heating issues in Selwyn College, has made “the conditions unlivable,” they said.

The student also explained that they own a wooden instrument that is worth more than £1000, and fears removing it from its case due to fears that the humidity will damage it. Similarly, they fear for their electrical equipment and their personal computer.

The high humidity levels also led to porters having to visit the student’s room four times in one day due to the room’s fire alarm going off multiple times.

During these multiple visits, the student claims that a porter told them it was “not okay to live this way”. With them recommending that the student send in additional maintenance requests.

The student showed Varsity the multiple maintenance requests they submitted starting from September to October, but the conditions did not change.

The student was compelled to take matters into their own hands and resorted to spending £150 on a dehumidifier.


Mountain View

Trinity slammed for ‘stealth’ increase in student bills

This was following the email sent by the Selwyn Bursar, Jennifer Phillips, in which the College thanked students for “investing” in “gilets and blankets” due to heating issues and cuts, as reported by Varsity.

The student felt the letter was “mocking” and told Varsity: “I spend £219 on my rent per week, and I had to additionally invest £281 trying to combat the humidity and the cold in my room. I have already invested enough.”

The student highlighted that individual porters and maintenance workers were kind and helpful, but deplored that the issue remained systemic until they handled it themselves.

This has not been the first time that Selwyn College has come under fire due to living conditions in their accommodation, with controversy around the College’s heating issues and rent increases.

A college spokesperson for Selwyn told Varsity: “Selwyn has very high-quality accommodation including a number of new and newly-refurbished buildings. Inevitably in a site with more than 500 rooms there will be the occasional maintenance problem, which we always deal with as speedily and effectively as we can. We have a complaints process within our accommodation handbook and this has not been used this term by any student. It is ridiculous for Varsity to think that this is a news worthy story or that there is any systemic problem about Selwyn accommodation.”