Whose University? lambast new Peterhouse accomodation

Stevie Collister-Hertz 22 January 2015

Peterhouse has now opened its new accommodation building, the Whittle Building, following a term delay.

Named after Sir Frank Whittle, a former Petrean and inventor of the jet engine, the Whittle Building refurbishment includes wheelchair accessible en-suite student and fellow’s rooms. Along with the refurbishments to existing rooms, the new development has created 12 more student rooms, alongside a new JCR, bar and gym available for all students to use, as well as a new meeting room and other facilities.

Many at the college seem pleased with the addition. The Dean, Dr Stephen Hampton, commented that “it will provide not only excellent accommodation for our junior members, but also a range of much needed facilities.” One undergraduate living in the Whittle Building described it as “worth the wait,” while another commended the neo-gothic design saying, “it looks really nice… I like a good turret”. Others noted its accessible design and “plush decoration.”

However, the opening of the Whittle Building has not been without dispute, as some students have complained that their needs have been placed below those of conference guests. The new bar’s design has been criticised by undergraduates as “changing it away from a student bar into a conference bar” and there have been complaints about the lack of hobs in the gyp rooms, in contrast to other second and third year accommodation at Peterhouse.

The student-run campaign Whose University? have voiced concerns, commenting that “the design of Peterhouse’s new Whittle building is emblematic of how students are treated at university these days. It has clearly been built for conference guests first,
and students second, with no cooking facilities in gyp rooms which might encroach on the ability of the college to sweat as much value as possible out of every square inch.”

In response to these issues, Dr Hampton told The Cambridge Student: “Conference guests do expect high levels of accommodation but I think our students expect increasingly high levels of accommodation as well and I know that numbers of students do welcome en-suite rooms.” On the subject of conferences, one student commented “at the end of the day, they do bring in an awful lot of money and subsidise student rent.” Another highlighted the fact that “it’s hard to complain when you’ve got an en-suite room in the same building as the bar.”