Court sees accommodation
The number of column inches this newspaper has devoted to St Andrews’ accommodation woes, you would be forgiven for thinking there was nothing else to report. Indeed, most other news pales in comparison next to visions of panic-stricken students queuing along Bell Street to visit a flat, or tenants falling prey to fraudsters masquerading as landlords and being cheated out of thousands of pounds.
The latest tale comes courtesy of the University Court, whose tour of sub-standard private accommodation uncovered mice infestations, a collapsed roof and sloping floors. The conditions in which many students are forced to live are deplorable. The contempt shown by a long litany of landlords for their tenants is despicable, but dismally familiar.
What really sticks in the craw, however, as The Saint reports today, is the repercussions students fear if their landlords discover they have complained. In fact, only 10 students volunteered their flats for the tour and “time constraints” whittled that number down to four, certainly not presenting a picture of the town’s accommodation problems.
One student compared his house to the blitz but was wary of being “stonewalled” while another, unable to pay for anywhere more expensive, quite literally couldn’t afford to anger his landlord.
Association president, Pat Mathewson, lavished praise on the “bold” students who were speaking out and risking “retribution.” However, blowing the whistle on your landlord’s malpractice should neither have to be bold, nor result in retribution.
The University’s senior governor, Ewan Brown, has since asked that the Students’ Association to bring proposals to the next Court meeting on how to tackle the private accommodation issues. The Saint looks forward to seeing what they plan to do.
A political master stroke
Pity Chris MacRae, the director of events and services elect who two months ago was the toast of the Students’ Association and is now barred from working in the very Union he will soon be filling with the likes of Pink Floyd, if his interview with The Saint is anything to go by.
Mr MacRae’s DJing outfit, NELFUN, has fallen foul of the Union’s drinkand-DJ policy and he and his partner in crime, Cameron Bell, have been shown the door. “Here lies the end of the road for NELFUN as we’ve been fired from the Union for the same drunken antics that got us where we are today,” the pair announced on Facebook last week.
Aside from the irony of Mr MacRae’s defrocking as resident DJ just months before he takes over from Leon O’Rourke, the debacle has highlighted the shortcomings of the Union’s rules on DJs who like their tipple. “Apparently there has always been a no drinking rule for DJs,” Mr Cameron said, who has been flouting the rules with impunity since NELFUN’s inception in 2012. Indeed, it turns out that another act, ‘Tallent and Droscher’, had their drinks subsidised when they performed.
But the clarity of the rules is just the start of it. Mr Cameron attests to being called on a night out and told to come and DJ with half an hour’s notice. On one occasion NELFUN were at work behind the bar and were forced to take to the decks because of an absent DJ.
However, Mr MacRae has performed a political master stroke, turning the fall from grace into a PR coup. He has vowed to enact a policy to clear up the confusion and ensure DJs sign contracts before they play. It is likely that DJs will now have to put down the bottle before their performance starts, but Mr MacRae was pointed out to that he and Mr Cameron performed better with a drink in hand. The Saint couldn’t possibility speculate on whether the same could be said of his audience’s listening pleasure.