Postgraduate students with office space in the University of Glasgow’s McGregor Building continue to be plagued with issues surrounding the building’s safety and security, causing increasing frustration and academic upheaval. Although the university’s Estates and Buildings department is carrying out work, progress has been marred by breakdowns in communication and many of those affected feel that the most significant issues are not being prioritised.
A swathe of new concerns were raised following a break-in to the building on Friday October 3rd. A male intruder was observed in the building’s ground floor corridor at around 7pm, looking for unsecured office doors. The man fled upon being confronted by a student, but the greater concern was the intruder’s mode of entry into the building through a door that is supposed to be protected via a secure keypad entry system. A student with office space in the building stated: “this is not the first reported incident of aggressive intruders into the building”.
Students also felt that the spaces already being used in the building were not high on the priority list for further development, as work was also being carried out on currently unused areas of the building that were in even worse condition.
The lack of a fully functional secure entry system for the building has been an ongoing concern for months, and was first raised with the Head of School for Social and Political Sciences by former SRC President Jessica McGrellis on June 17th of this year. Christopher Carman, who currently holds the position of Head of School, produced a response to this email on October 7th, citing administrative issues as the reason for the four-month gap in communication. He expressed frustration at the breakdown of communication between the parties involved and stated that “the School (as the Head of College has made clear) has no authority to provoke action – it is Estates and Buildings that has both the responsibility and authority to resolve the ongoing issues with the McGregor building”.
However, SRC President Breffni O’ Connor was quick to praise the work of Estates and Buildings, stating: “I am pleased with the progress made by Estates and Buildings on their timely addressing of problematic areas within the building, but urge that this does not slip and that timescales are adhered to for all jobs that need to be carried out. It is of utmost importance that all of these issues are taken care of before any more students are moved into the building.”
Ann Allen, Director of Estates and Buildings, told Glasgow Guardian: “When we are carrying out any building works the safety and security of our students and staff is our first priority and we have listened to the concerns raised by students.
“We are continuing to make progress with all the works at the McGregor Building including installing new secure entry systems and the provision of drinking water. Estates and Buildings have looked to improve communication between the Department and students and we keep students and staff informed of works progress through weekly update bulletins and have offered to meet with the students if that would be of help.”
While the issues raised are beginning to be addressed more proactively, the conditions in the building remain very poor. The entire process has also taken its toll on the students working there, and the amount of time that some have committed to pushing for change in the building has had a negative impact on their studies. Breffni O’ Connor commented:
“Communication between the University and the students currently in the building has been unacceptable throughout the process. This issue has caused some students to have to extend their PhD completion dates which may have an impact on their funding and personal lives. We are in communication with staff and students about the ongoing issues and want to ensure that the best is being done so that the students’ welfare and studies are not further affected.”