06 September 2005

Access to Divisional Facilities

CardAX controllers on the doors to some Divisional facilities have improved access, but there are still demands for more access.

In the past is has been customary to restrict undergraduate student access to Divisional facilities to business hours (9-5 on working days), or to building opening hours with written requests being sent to Security in advance detailing the times, the facilities and the students involved. Building opening hours are 6am to 10.30pm Monday through Thursday, and 6am to 6.30pm on Friday during teaching periods, 6am to 6.30pm Monday through Friday during non-teaching periods. Buildings are closed on holidays and weekends.

Increasingly there is pressure from media production and journalism staff and students to increase these hours, with one recent example of students staying all night in the video editing facilities to complete their assignments. The facilities were unable to be cleaned as a result of the students still working when the cleaners arrived at 4am.

Climate control is turned off outside of building opening times. Unless previously arranged (and paid for), there is no access, no climate control, and no cleaning or maintenance of buildings on holidays and weekends. Normal University hire rates for rooms out of hours is $28/hour + $22/hour for climate control + $7 for each lock/unlock. The climate control charge would probably cover a building as a whole, since it is unlikely Facilities and Services could or would heat or cool individual rooms separately. This estimates are based on some figures provided by Facilities and Services a couple of years ago and purport to cover the costs incurred in making the rooms available: electricity, corridor lighting and settings, water and so on.

Staff argue that increasing demands on students in terms of employment and work experience preclude their use of these facilities during regular working hours, so that the facilities should be opened up to them after hours and on weekends. This they say “will be increasingly important in 2006 when the affects of the recent university-wide course restructure result in larger class sizes and increased output demands for third year students due to expanded contact hours”.

Unsupervised out-of-hours access to Divisional facilities raises significant financial, security, health, safety and other duty of care issues that would need to be addressed if the Division were to extend the hours currently available.

At the very least the Division would have to commit to the additional costs of keeping a building open beyond the current building opening hours, and negotiate the proposed arrangements with Facilities and Services. It may also be prudent from a liability perspective to employ student monitors to look after the spaces on behalf of the Division during opening hours.