The Provost and President of University College London

UCL has produced a plan (the Masterplan) for the future of the Bloomsbury area estates. Much of the plan is very good, but this petition is concerned with a single proposal in the plan which has been greeted with dismay by most academics at UCL.

For many years we have had an academic staff common room (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ascr) which has served as the intellectual hub of the university. It is the place where the biologist can meet a physicist or a lawyer, a member of the English Department can meet a mathematician and a historian can meet an engineer or a geneticist – and where academic staff of all disciplines can meet administrators from across the university. This ability to meet has spawned collaborations that would never have happened without it. It is far more important than a place to drink coffee.

The space allocated to the ASCR has already been reduced by the loss of two of the three rooms that it used to occupy, and it is now located in the biggest of the three, the Housman Room. The size of the room is essential for its function, because it means that you can see if the person you want is there.

The proposal in the Masterplan is to deprive staff of this priceless facility, and offer in its place a house on Gordon Square, with small rooms on four floors. This would destroy entirely the interactions which make the ASCR so valuable to UCL. It would also be quite inadequate as a place to entertain visitors. Further information at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ascr/housmanroomfuture

The proposal to move the ASCR to a house on Gordon Square would do great harm to both the social and the intellectual life of UCL. Although an equivalent space elsewhere might be acceptable, the present proposal is not.

We, the undersigned, urge UCL to reconsider the proposal and ensure either that the Housman Room remains the home of the staff common room or that the Masterplan includes a common room equivalent in size and purpose to the Housman Room.

The Saving the Staff Common Room at UCL petition to The Provost and President of University College London was written by Jane Spender and is in the category Education at GoPetition.