29 August 2011

Colleges at ANU: Burgmann vs John XXIII

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I’m looking at studying at ANU next year and trying to decide between applying for Burgmann College or John XXIII College.

Which is better?

Pros/Cons of each?

I’ve heard some bad things about John XXIII but it seemed nice when i toured it.

Are these stereotypes true?


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bigdogoncampus2:11 am 14 Oct 11

johns 4 sho. we b da illest lollege at da anyeeew. if u dont cum to yohns den dat is gud. whaeva. KAK 4 eva…. but seriously if your basing your decision on what you read on a blog then defs choose burgmann. all the social retards go there. or ursies but you would never know because they are shut in, suicide watch, f***ing losers. EADC.

Facilities at Johns are quite nice (from the small part of it that I’ve seen) – the problem is the culture. I’ve met quite a few Johns people who are entirely reasonable from what I know – the people who cause the scandals seem to be in the minority – but the problem is that that minority goes way, *way* beyond what’s acceptable. I have *never* seen Bruce, B&G or Ursies get any sort of media attention for scandalous behaviour, and Burgmann’s negative press is mainly minor stuff like rubbish being left around after Toga.

Personally I rather like where I am (Ursies) but if I had to choose between Johns and Burgmann, it’d definitely be Burgmann. That said, I think Ursies and Bruce are better than both.

John XXIII might seem to be dominated by “jocks”, yet its residents are probably the most varied out of any college. Its residents occupy leadership positions across a huge range of student societies, the college enjoys unrivaled success in interhall competitions (both arts and sport), and over 30% of residents have a distinction average. Only at Johns can you head out with 100s of ‘friends’ and fill a nightclub together. People are genuine, trustworthy and “real”, many being from the country. The problem with the college is that its culture forces residents to hide behind veneers of “jockiness”, meaning that intellectually-oriented events just don’t happen within the college – and those that do are dumbed down. The secret to living at Johns is to convince people you’re just a normal DTE person, despite wanting to excel at life inside. The common room is horrid – if you design something for the sole purpose of not getting destroyed during a bar night, what do you think will happen?

Burgmann is known for its internal culture. It has an active band, choir, mind-stimulating events and guest speakers – lots of opportunities to get involved. The drinking culture is the same as Johns – perhaps a bit nerdier and less full on. Burgmann residents seem to identify as going to Burgmann, rather than to ANU (at least until they leave college). If you’re from Sydney’s wealthy postcodes, there’s a good chance you’ll fit in – few residents have part time work and even fewer pay their own fees. It’s quite accepting, with tolerance for nerds, gays etc. But people there can be judgmental, which you’ll notice when you overcome the facade that Burgmann residents have refined. The food is bad at the moment; certainly much worse than that at Johns. The current head has aspirations of further exclusivity, having implied a wish to be more like Usyd’s catered residences.

IMO your choice should be Bruce. While Bruce might not win things, its really the cultural hub of Daley Road. It’s learning communities provide residents with exposure to an array of opportunities for extra-curricular learning, and the variety of people is BIG. Perhaps the most unpretentious hall, but also the homeliest on campus. Food is quite decent.

Henry82 said :

Well i’ll go check some of my “comments” and then i’ll come back. In the meantime….

>our O-Week program for example had more sober than alcoholic events.
All hosted by Johns? and not just a copy/paste from ANUSA/ANU o-week guide?

>We’re also the only college I know of that actually polices underage drinking
dragging kids off to the side on o-week, then forcing them to sign an agreement that they won’t go to events isn’t “enforcement”

Would really rather this doesn’t descend into some fight here, but it seems whoever’s giving you your information isn’t particularly correct. None of our O-Week events were ANU/ANUSA, everything was run by the RA. If you want a break down – Sunday was trivia, Monday was a ‘flashback party’ in our common room, Tuesday was a Red Frogs coffee crawl around Civic, Wednesday was twilight golf, Thursday a scribble party, and Friday was ice-skating. Virtually all of those nights also had ‘pit stops,’ with hot chocolate and biscuits, etc. provided in our senior common room for people just to chill out. This was the same situation last year and I believe the year before that, too.

Our enforcement of under-age drinking extends far beyond anything I’ve heard from any other colleges – on the first night out when two underagers were found in a bar, they were taken out and advised to go home, and action was taken the next day, though I’m not sure to what extent as it was off college grounds. If anyone is found drinking on college underage, it’s a zero tolerance approach, and that’s why they’re ‘dragged off to the side’ from day one, because they obviously don’t want to have to kick people out.

Again, I’m not trying to sling mud on any other residences here – they’re free to do what they please. All I’m saying is that a whole lot of the crap that Johns gets is unwarranted and untrue, especially considering that many other residences tend to ‘get away’ with behaviour that Johns would be crucified for.

Well i’ll go check some of my “comments” and then i’ll come back. In the meantime….

>our O-Week program for example had more sober than alcoholic events.
All hosted by Johns? and not just a copy/paste from ANUSA/ANU o-week guide?

>We’re also the only college I know of that actually polices underage drinking
dragging kids off to the side on o-week, then forcing them to sign an agreement that they won’t go to events isn’t “enforcement”

creative_canberran9:06 pm 29 Aug 11

In general I get a better vibe from Burgmann people than those from Johns.

As a current Johns resident, some of the comments in this thread are a bit disheartening. There’s no doubt that Johns has a big social scene, but at the same time we endeavour to organise similar non-alcoholic events – our O-Week program for example had more sober than alcoholic events. We’re also the only college I know of that actually polices underage drinking – residents can and have been expelled for drinking underage before, whereas I have been out in clubs with underage residents from other residences and no one has said a word. So while there are plenty of social events organised by the RA, there are always other options.

And yes, first years wear bibs with their names on them during O-Week, and by the end of the week, absolutely everybody knows the names of all the first years. For the first years themselves, it removes that awkward “Hi, I’m xxxxx” that everyone goes through when meeting 130 new people for the first time. Johns residents are proud of their bibs – mine’s still hanging up in my room right now. Also, a lot of what Henry82 said – about college having to choose from a list of names last year, and most of the senior staff leaving, is untrue as well. Our deputy-head of college left halfway through last year to move overseas, but other than that, no senior staff members have left since I’ve been here.

I’m not denying that Johns has had a few issues recently – two residents got expelled recently for a prank gone way too far – but the place has come a long, long way in the last couple of years and I’ve loved my time here. There’s always something on, there’s a great community spirit, and we’ve got a great mix of people – we’ve won the interhall sports shield the last 10 years in a row (and looking pretty good for 11), and are currently second place in the arts shield.

As for Burgmann, I’ve got a fair few mates there and it’s a pretty cool place. Personally I find the corridors a little claustrophobic but I’m sure you have done a tour so have seen how everything looks. Burgmann and Johns are quite similar though, not least because they’re not actually owned by ANU, only affiliated with it, so they have more control over their budgets, sponsorships, events, etc. Honestly, chances are that whether you go to either place, you’re going to have a good time, enjoy yourself, and be glad that you chose Johns over Burgmann, or vice versa. For the record, if you’re not going to go to either Johns or Burgmann, I’d definitely recommend Bruce next.

Clown Killer4:41 pm 29 Aug 11

I was at Burgmann and Bruce Hall. Both were good in different ways. Had a lot of mates at Johns – and what others have said was certainly true back then (late 80s). Johns was very blokey (hell, I think even the girls stood up to pee). Burgmann was good fun, but a bit insular – in the sense that a lot of in-house staff was arranged by the ressies assoc. on the bright side, you didn’t have to look far for a party. Bruce Hall was great fun.

Kramer said :

I married a hot Burgmann chick – enough said


I married a John’s lovely and we’ve been together for 17 years and married for 11. We are still in close regular contact with a lot of the guys and grls she lived with and they ar all normal well adjusted people.

crackerpants1:59 pm 29 Aug 11

Which is better? Neither. Bruce is the only way to go.

I married a hot Burgmann chick – enough said 😉

@JB religion doesn’t play a part in the colleges any more, occasionally it’s mentioned at formal dinners, but it’s not enforced, it won’t give you priority entry either.

Johns has been getting some real bad publicity lately, and they’ve been doing there best to distance themselves from the actions of the students. The fact of the matter is the events organised by the RA do encourage people to play up, and the fact they have (in the past) been able to choose students through interview. Last year however they got to choose from a list of names, stopping them from picking the more extrovert/outgoing types and getting a more mixed bunch. The head of hall hasn’t really been running the place (imo), he’s had a long move between his old position, and has had a string of heart issues, both resulted in him being away from college for long periods of time. Also, most of the senior staff have left in the last year or so.

I have a few friends at both colleges. Imo, if i was to choose my time again (in a catered college), i’d preference bruce > burgmann > ursula > Johns in that order. Johns is not conducive to study, imho bruce and burgman have a good mixture.

Burgmann is reasonable, i gather you’ve toured it too. The rooms are the biggest on campus (imo) in terms of usable floor space. I think every college except B&G say’s they’re the biggest in some way or another. All johns beds are king singles, where in every other college/hall they are single beds.

A few years ago, burgmann was in SEVERE financial difficulty after blowing all their money on a fancy postgrad wing. At the time alot of people were critisizing the cutbacks made on the undergrads. I can’t comment on if this is still relevant.

Having said that, a college is what you make of it. If you want to get involved, you can, if you don’t – nobody can force you.

If you want to ask unofficial questions, you can email me. “(myusername)email@gmail.com”

My girlfriend of the time lived at Johns for 5 years a long time ago. It was full of arsehats.

I don’t think much has changed.

As an ex-ANU student who lived on campus I can give you my opinion. I have spoken to people who stayed at both colleges as well.

Johns. Well when I took the tour, it seemed really classy – but after living nearby I soon changed my mind. It is well known for its drinking culture and sporting teams i.e. tends to be jocky. This doesn’t mean that everyone there is like that, I have heard people who aren’t so in to the drinking culture complain. They make first-years wear bibs with their names on them around for o-week. You may also recently have seen things in the paper about the ‘pigs incident’ – not to imply that it happens all the time, but as soon as ANU students hears about things like that (stupid pranks) they tend to assume it happenned at Johns (which is usually correct). Also, a number of years when I was at ANU they would stand out on an island in Sullies and yell out “show us your tits” to passing girls. If you’re in to drinking and sports, Johns is probably the go.

As for Burgmann – haven’t really heard a lot of complaints – though I think someone said you don’t really get to know your neighbours unless you make the effort so it can be a bit isolating.

Personally I stayed at Ursies (Ursula Hall) – reknowned for being the “nerdy” college – but it was perfect for me. People to go out drinking with if you want – but also a number of people that don’t drink so there are good alternatives. You get to know most people in the college because it’s small, and the social events are fun and not always drinking-oriented. Also – seperate male/female bathrooms which I hear is a rarity.

So really it just depends on what kind of a culture you want. Also – I think your friends and the people you meet have a huge impact on college life – as long as you make friends even a bad experience can become not so bad.

Good luck!

I went to both. John’s was full of drunks and rugger buggers, and Burgmann was full of god botherers and future Prime Ministers….mind you, things might have changed since ’75/76…

Tequila Mockingbird11:51 am 29 Aug 11

John XXIII throw the better parties and tend to be more hungover at early lectures (and, I’d like to add that they also seem to take on students based on their outstanding physical appearance).
You can still study in peace and quiet though, there is heaps of library space on campus for when you plan to read a book between rounds of Flip Cup and Goon of Fortune.

Burgmann…. never heard too much about it. Must be for squares.

For a start one is catholic and the other anglican, so that might have some bearing….

Tetranitrate11:25 am 29 Aug 11

Apply for both and ensure you have the preferences and everything down for others. You many not get your first choice – last thing you want is to end up at unilodge.

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