By Tirion Davies
On March 23rd, strict measures were introduced nationwide in the UK to tackle the spread of COVID-19. These measures included a requirement for people to stay at home and to prevent the gathering of two or more people.
In response to the measures placed, Cardiff University announced in March that any students who wished to opt out of their Residences Agreement with the University were able to do so. The new agreement meant that students who had chosen to not stay in Cardiff for the remainder of the Spring Semester would not have to pay their final instalment of rent.
The Residences Agreements that applies to the affected students cover all Cardiff University-owned accommodation, including the Talybont Halls of Residences and Senghennydd Court and Hall amongst others. Cardiff University’s partnership accommodation Liberty House also fell under this scheme.
However, students returning to retrieve their items from Cardiff University Residences recently, including Talybont student village, have claimed many of their belongings have been removed from kitchens and communal areas.
A statement made by Cardiff University in April expressed that items from shared areas, deemed unhygienic, would be disposed of. Reports have been made however, by many Cardiff University students claiming their belongings have been disposed of, despite them being clean and put away within kitchen cupboards.
Charlotte Towlson, a first-year student spoke to Gair Rhydd about these reports. Charlotte told Gair Rhydd she was panicked after reading reports that the University was disposing of residents’ belongings after telling them they would only remove of items which were dirty or unusable.
When Charlotte’s housemates returned to retrieve their belongings, they were surprised to see that almost all of their items from the communal areas had been disposed of.
“I was left with a bowl, two plates and a glass. My mother had brought me the majority of my kitchenware for university before she passed away”.
Modern History and Politics student Charlotte says she was horrified to find her belongings had been displaced. She says that although items are replaceable, many of her items hold a sentimental value she feels will be hard to replace.
First year nursing student, Lizzie Denny, has spoken to Gair Rhydd about her own experience since she was relieved of the Residences Agreement, which she had with Talybont student village.
Lizzie has told Gair Rhydd that, after moving out of university residences in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she was told she would no longer need to pay rent. Despite this, Lizzie Denny says rent was still taken out of her account, with another £566.66 being taken out of her account by Cardiff University Residences in addition to this.
Speaking to Gair Rhydd, Lizzie expressed her exasperation at the situation, saying:
“Being a nursing student, it’s hard enough with the pressures of my course, especially financially. Students in general don’t get much money to live off, especially after rent has been deducted”
Since the incident, Lizzie has received an email from Cardiff University Residences regarding the rent and was told she would receive a reimbursement within 2-3 weeks.
Following the social media backlash, Cardiff Student’s Union President Jackie Yip posted a video statement online in response to the incidents, encouraging students to continue to inform the Student’s Union of any updates.
Additionally, Yip assured students that she would be contacting the University following the responses she had already received from those concerned about their belongings.
In response to the reports, Cardiff University released a statement on Friday, apologising to all students who were affected by the incidents.
This statement admits that ‘procedures were not followed in a small number of cases, leading to some personal possessions being mistakenly disposed of from shared kitchens’.
Cardiff University has declared that any student affected by the actions taken at Cardiff University Halls of Residences will be compensated for any losses. Moreover, the University announced that they have put a stop on any cleaning of kitchens, to ensure that no belongings will be moved.
The statement made by Cardiff University also discussed that staff would not be entering bedrooms, where students had been advised to leave their belongings and that they will keep belongings safe until students are able to return to retrieve them.
Students will soon be informed on how their belongings can be collected once lockdown measures are lifted.
Furthermore, a Cardiff University spokesperson has said the University wants to encourage student to follow lockdown measures to ensure the health and safety of all students during this time.