A View From Room 101 – Student Central

“You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.” Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

I’m not sure what sort of message the University was sending T’Hud when they moved the  magazine office to Room 101 in the newly built Student Central. Hopefully it’s not a comment on the quality of what we do (can someone confirm this please, I have a very fragile ego) but merely a coincidence. Either way the opportunity to start a column titled with such a sinister pop culture reference was too good to miss.

It’s been a strange first couple of weeks back. The new building has changed my experience on campus dramatically and it’s taking a bit of getting used to. My aforementioned new workspace is full of massive electronic switch boxes, feels bland and isn’t an inspiring environment to write. However, having an office to use on campus is more than handy and I’m aware that what I’m complaining about is the very definition of a first world problem.

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I guess it’s a microcosm for my feelings about the whole building thus far. To me Student Central is a little like an office breakout area; too corporate and too featureless to be genuinely exciting.

Its café areas aren’t welcoming (and the standard of coffee doesn’t match the levels in the old SU building). Its food offerings are a little humdrum and piping BBC Radio One into the main social space doesn’t help give it any character (surely Radio Hud should be piped down there instead?). The only thing that could be considered a resounding success is the new shop, which is spacious and does a better job of displaying the products they have to sell.

The majority Students’ Union and its services can be found just one floor up from the main social space. Their new open plan office, although smaller, feels more welcoming and inclusive. The area designated for student support is also huge improvement, bigger yet more discreet and befits the amazing work done by Bruce and his team. Despite these improvements (and the food outlet with freshly made pizza’s for £2) I can already see that they need to have a bigger marketing force working to let student’s know just what they have on offer.

I guess it’s not a big surprise that things aren’t perfect, after all the building has only been open for 10 days and we all need time to grow into the new space. However, we need to make sure we keep pushing everyone involved to make it the building we were promised. For now it remains a novelty, a minimalist space that needs the brush strokes of the student community to inject excitement and vibrancy and make it the heart of campus we deserve.

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