Caius over-hall

Tom Barfield 5 February 2010

Gonville and Caius Students’ Union (GCSU) has put forward proposals to the College for reforms to the way dining in hall is organised and is asking students to show their support.

Until now, students have been required to purchase hall tickets at £6.40 each for one of two sittings per night on 43 nights, out of a total of around 60 during full term

This has been a cause of discontent among students for some time, since many do not use their full quota of tickets and so are forced to pay for meals they don’t eat.

Some 23.4% of respondents to the TCS Food Survey published last week described the cost of meals as extortionate, especially considering the quality of the food, which was rated only 2.61 out of a possible 5.00 by the survey, placing Caius at the bottom of the league table.

The proposals come in response to plans for the introduction of an online hall booking system which would further reduce students’ flexibility by asking them to specify which sitting they would attend on any given night.

GCSU has instead put forward to the College that a Kitchen Fixed Charge (KFC) of a similar amount to that charged by other colleges should be introduced, in conjunction with a reduction in ticket prices to £3 each, as well as the minimum dining requirement being cut to 30 nights a term.

Proposals to eliminate the dining requirement entirely have been rejected several times in the past, with tutors arguing that gyp room facilities are insufficient to provide a realistic alternative to hall due to fire regulations, and that communal dining in hall is a key part of the college atmosphere which should be preserved.

According to the GCSU Food and Bar Officer, Pranav Khamar, the College administration has agreed to consider the current proposal if the Students’ Union can demonstrate that it is popular with students.

GCSU highlighted a recent survey showing that only 30% of students used all 43 of their tickets last term, a figure which had previously dropped to 23% in Lent term of last year. Their scheme would save students almost £40 a term compared with the current system.

Mr Khamar argued that “We believe the proposed changes will give Caius students a lot more choice. We believe no one will be made worse off by our system and our survey shows most students will also save a fair bit of money each term. The bursars and tutors have been very receptive to our ideas so far.”

GCSU will be polling members this week using both online and paper ballots, and are hoping for a record turnout to enable them to gauge the level of support for the plan.

They hope to have completed polling of students by Friday.

Tom Barfield