Mansfield retroactively raises formal prices for students

first_imgMansfield College has retroactively raised the prices of Formal Hall, sparking student outrage.The price increase, of 30 pence on Formals, which take place on Wednesdays and Fridays, including special Friday ‘Formal Formals’ which occur three times per term, has been applied to those already attended this term, an increase which many students hold to be illegal, as the price is higher than was advertised at the time of sale.The cost of normal twice-weekly Formals, which is now £12.75, is added to the battels of the following term. The increases had been discussed in Trinity 2015, but were never communicated to students.In an email from the Principal of Mansfield, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, students were told that “I am sorry you did not receive prior notice – it was a complete oversight caused by the departure of Neil, our Catering Manager, for personal reasons at quite short notice. The increase which was consciously kept as small as possible was agreed prior to the appointment of Peter and Lee in to the key catering roles and they did not realise students had not been informed.”This followed a lengthy and impassioned thread on a post made in the ‘Mansfield College – Hall & Dining’ Facebook group Tuesday evening, which is run by Hall staff. A student had tagged the College in the post, stating, “I think the prices of our formals have increased after we booked/attended them. I’m not entirely sure this is legal. Why have the prices changed on our battels after we already booked and attended the formal? Can you explain why this is OK?”Calls were then also made for the College Bursar, Allan Dodd, to resign, leading to additional comments in Kennedy’s email, that “On another note, I was very disappointed at the tone and language of the Facebook discussion on this subject. Personal comments about those who serve the needs of the college is unwarranted and unworthy of my students who are normally so considerate. Please don’t let that happen again.”Speaking to Cherwell, JCR President Luke Charters-Reid stated that he fears such student comments have harmed the JCR’s bargaining position, but agreed that some comments had not been acceptable. Students are also concerned that comments made on the Facebook page are being used as a deflection technique. The JCR President stated, “There is strong student reaction to this. I have urged students to stay calm and would like to see a speedy resolution to this,” while adding, “I don’t believe students have always been treated with respect by College in the handling of this matter.”The JCR Treasurer, Claire Gibson, endorsed the JCR President’s statements to Cherwell and stated that she has been working actively with him towards finding a solution with the College that is agreeable to students.An emergency JCR meeting took place Thursday evening to discuss the action the JCR wishes to take on this together. It was determined that there should be a “productive dialogue” with the College to resolve the matter in a “calm and timely manner”. Charters-Reid had added to Cherwell in advance of the meeting, “I don’t think it is appropriate to make a decision [on our way forward] before the meeting. I’m hoping for unified action.”The JCR and MCR Presidents met with the Principal and other senior members of the College on Wednesday to attempt to find a resolution. The JCR and MCR Presidents proposed that the College agree to delay the increase until Hilary term, with one student asking them on the Facebook thread “[not to] settle for anything less than that.”However, this was rejected by the College, and it was agreed that the matter would be discussed at further meetings. Kennedy laid out the College’s stance in her email to students that same day, writing “I think you should accept this low increase and the apologies of all concerned.”To many students, however, it is not about the 30 pence increase, but the issue of legality and the principle of the matter, as Charters-Reid reiterated to Cherwell. The initial poster on Facebook, who wishes to remain anonymous, labelled it “stealing”, with another stating “any sum of money that is charged to us without our knowledge or consent is an unreasonable amount.”A student has also confirmed to Cherwell that a query has been raised with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute as to the legality of the College’s actions.Some Mansfield alumni who are still members of the page shared in their successors’ anger, raising previous incidences they deemed unfair, without one alumnus concluding “it seems Mansy is no longer the college where students are treated like equals.”Additionally, online meal cost confirmations for previous Hall bookings now have a sentence underneath, stating that “This meal has been signed off by the catering department and no further changes will be applied to this booking.”Mansfield College Bursar, Allan Dodd, has been contacted for comment.last_img

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