I am a domestic student studying at the Australian National University, and recent headlines about people being kicked out of “slum housing” was a reminder i should write to the RiotACT and put my experience into words. I’m not writing this as a ‘whinge’, but more to share my experience with others, and hopefully provide enough attention on the issues of housing to have it fixed up so future students don’t have the same uncertentainty.
ANU Accomodation guarantees students accomodation for first year, undergraduate, and domestic students who are starting at ANU. When i first arrived, i met this criteria and found myself on the ANU campus in a College. I had a great time, met many friends and finished my year on a ‘high’. As soon as my final exams for first year ended, i went interstate the day after and started my holiday job (as per the contract). After University has already started for a semester, my contract ended and i went back to the same college. Another year passed, and the same occured again.
On the Wednesday before O-week started, i recieved an email from the College stating that “due to high demand” my application for this year had been rejected and that i was to find alternative accomodation as all colleges were full. Sh*t, I’m on the other side of Australia, with 3 days before i fly down to start another year, and the verbal guarantee from the “ANU Affiliated College” had fallen through. Some desperate calls to ANU Accomodation, i was able to scramble myself onto a waiting list for colleges.
A few days later i received a call from ANU Accomodation letting me know they had squeezed me in to one of the approved accomodation hotspots around Canberra. As you may have already heard, ANU hired 3 hotels, one in Belconnen, the other in Lyneham, and part of the Rex hotel in Dickson to cater for the huge demand for housing. I found myself with 100+ other ‘rejected’ students waiting until someone dropped out of uni, allowing us to take their place in College on campus.
Tonight, i had dinner with some new guests, the ANU students who were kicked out of the housing slum (mentioned yesterday on the RiotACT). After having a conversation with them, i had noticed that they had also been left out to find accomodation in a new country. They had used ANU Accomodations classifieds to find $150 per week accomodation out in Macquarie and had ended up in a housing slum with no where else to go.
He told me that each room was divided into “cubicles” with MDF, one family in each. The shed out the back, and the garage had also been converted into cubicles, each room had a power points and lights that had been wired by the owner. He told me he lived there because they had no where else to go, a new country and no accomodation guarantee.
I thought about this quite a bit, how many students are out there living in this ‘slum housing’? How many international students have experienced this Canberra slum lifestyle? What will that say to other students when they go home? What does this say about Australia’s number 1 University?
I thought about the alternatives there are on offer, and one of them was the privatised accomodation on the edge of the ANU Campus. For defamation purposes lets call it “runi lodge“, i think we can all work that one out. Students are required to sign a contract for the whole year in a “pay you money and shut the f**k” up kind of atmosphere. Halfway through 2009, I recieved a call from a very upset student who asked what he would do, his room had a light blow out, and reception wanted to charge him for the cost of the light bulb, and the time for a mainteance man to come and replace it. I told him that he already paid a $11/week maintenance levvy and that would be included and he should fight it. He eventually gave up and paid as he was an international student who didnt have the courage to fight the cost. Another student i had spoke to was fined $600 to replace a vinyl bench top that was scratched when they arrived. As they were the first students in the college, they were not required to fill out a room damage report, and he had to wear the cost of something that was probably caused by the builders.
Similar events had occured resulting in ANU calling up ‘Runi-lodge’ and forcing them to change a few of their rules. Firstly, 40 week contracts would be introduced, but would result in the 12 weeks of lost income being spread over the 40 weeks… i.e. Increasing the price to cover the cost. Kind of pointless in the first place?
Thats basically why i don’t trust these commercial colleges, and many others feel the same way. ANU has started building the container houses, mentioned last year. Those students have also been forced to sign year long contracts, even if they graduate at the end of the year, or want to go back home over the summer. You be thinking, well if they dont want the contract, they can find accomodation elsewhere. Well where? There was a reason why those were living in slums, and it wasn’t because they were cheap.
So there you have it, my ANU experience. My apologies if i’ve rambled, but i just wanted to put it all out there. I’ve posted this under an anonymous account, as i suspect there will be attempts to find my identity. I am a regular RiotACT reader, and have tried to contribute as much as possible to this site. My apologies Johnboy for create duplicate accounts.
Writing under the name,