Tensions rise at Newnham over housekeeping fines

Image credit: STEVE CADMAN

Students at Newnham have been expressing their outrage over what many consider to be excessive and unjust housekeeping fines. A post on the JCR Facebook page has received over 30 comments with students complaining about fines which they have received.

Newnham’s housekeeping policy means that students can be fined by housekeeping for a number of reasons, including not signing out at the end of term, not returning their linen to the linen room at the end of term, and for leaving windows open once they have left college. They are fined by offence, with fines ranging from £1 for every dirty mark found in their room to a maximum of £30 if the room is left in a state that is considered ‘dirty’ by housekeeping staff. This includes whether it appears not to have been vacuumed, if the mirror and sink appears dusty, and if students’ personal fridges look as though they have not been cleaned.

Comments on the post express the students’ frustration and exasperation, with many claiming that College administration has been uncooperative when they have raised their concerns about the fines. Furthermore, several students claim that it has become a question of testimony, with their word being pitted against that of the staff. There are also suggestions that a student-organised protest or petition might be used to draw attention to what has become an extremely contentious issue.

Sophie McVea, a Newnham student who commented on the original Facebook post, says: “on one occasion I was charged £50 for extra nights in college, despite having signed out and literally being in another country.” She points out that “the fines are a real welfare issue”, particularly since “there is also a total lack of transparency as to what such sums of money are being spent on.”

Beatrice Obe, a Newnham student who has previously been fined for supposedly not vacuuming her room or returning bed linen, comments that “housekeeping fines aren’t just a minor inconvenience – they’re often hefty and utterly pedantic.”

Upon a request from TCS, a spokesperson from the College responded with the following statement: "All of our undergraduate students are asked to sign in at the start of every term, and sign out at the end of every term and everyone is issued with a reminder of the procedure via email. Newnham College does not issue housekeeping fines, but occasionally a cleaning charge is levied. The charges are clearly outlined in the 'going down' information and a housekeeping checklist is available on the College's Rooms Management System (RMS). Students can request that they are present when housekeeping carries out the termly room checks, and anyone who is not happy with a charge they have incurred should raise it with the Head Housekeeper."

This article was updated on 22 May 2017

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