By Violet Pearl
The recent announcement by JOMEC (School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies) to move from their current home in the Bute Building, Cathays Park to Cardiff Central Square is one which, in my view, is highly detrimental to the students of Cardiff University, both current and future.
I won’t deny that the Bute Building is in need of refurbishment. In some places, the electricity is poor, and the WiFi isn’t great. In other areas, the walls could do with a painting, and the lecture theatres could do with some upholstery. However, these are fixable problems, and in comparison with moving an entire school, staff, and its students to another part of the city, is an extremely cheap process. Fundamentally -while some may sneer at this comment – the Bute Building is home. It’s a beautiful, grand old building, with a quaint interior and gorgeous high windows, which are lit up in the summer, and provide a beautiful outlook over Cathays Park in the autumn and spring. The school is gorgeous, and while refurbishments are necessary in some places, such small sticking points are not reason to upheave the entire school to a brand new location.
As students of Cardiff University will know, unless you are situated in Heath Park, Cathays Park is the hub of all that is our university. It is close to the students union, the main building, and the university high street. It’s close to supermarkets, such as Lidl, and residences such as Talybont. It’s right next to the majority of student houses which letting agents provide, as well as all of our libraries. The Bute Building is situated in the centre of Cathays Park, making it in my view, the perfect location for Cardiff Uni students. In terms of student experience, moving JOMEC to Cardiff Central Square is a highly detrimental act, with no real benefits apart from a few extra resources and a nicer front door.
So, why are we moving? Really? I can only come to one real conclusion, after witnessing the astonishing lack of consultation with JOMEC students, as well as any real warning about this. The reason comes back to one thing – the egos of some staff members within JOMEC. They want a nicer building. They want to feel like they’re in a posh, modern new office. They want to feel a certain way as they go into work every day. Which, to an extent, is fair enough. However, when egos infringe on the experiences of the students who they are in a position to educate and provide with an incredible experience, then something has to be said.
The issue of egos may, or may not be true. However, viewing staff members in that way is a very real feeling within the student body after this planned move has been announced. And such disillusionment cannot go unnoticed.
I often feel university staff members underestimate the importance of location to prospective students when applying to universities, and, even, once they’re arrived. Studying in the Bute Building has been an incredible experience, and will continue to be one up until JOMEC’s planned move in the 2018/19 academic year. I was considering doing an MA at JOMEC after my third year of studies, however, I’m now reconsidering because of the school’s plans. I hope JOMEC reconsiders this move, or, rather, explains themselves. I can’t help but feel like this move is happening purely for aforementioned egotistical reasons, which puts the experiences of the staff members far ahead of the experiences of students. Students shouldn’t be dragged away from Cathays Park. We shouldn’t have to get the bus or train into university. We shouldn’t be forced to move, so lecturers have a nicer office. Refurbish, don’t relocate.
The Bute Building is our home, and it’s worth far more than a couple of extra video cameras, and a comfier seat in a lecture theatre.