Tag Archives: campus

Campus Update: Quieter, But Not That Quiet

What’s campus like this term, then? With even fewer of us likely to be visiting any time soon, your intrepid correspondent reports.

You might expect the answer to be empty, but, despite what you may have read about everyone staying in their parental homes until March, there are still plenty of people around. Some of them never left at all, of course. Reportedly, around 500 students were on campus at the start of January, and that number has grown considerably since then. The Vice-Chancellor observed, at his all-staff meeting on Friday 29 January, that over 40% of campus rooms were currently occupied.

The lack of campus teaching does make the Spine startlingly quiet, even at lunchtime, but people are still there — just not moving around as much. The food outlets are still open and people are still queueing for Greggs.

Security staff seem to be busy preventing illegal parties, which appear to be more prevalent this term, in the residence blocks. Parties of up to 80 people have been reported both on- and off-campus; the BBC picked up on a recent incident in which a warehouse party with 50–70 attendees was broken up on St George’s Quay:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-55989890

Evidently, our students are increasingly disillusioned with the state in which they find themselves, though some are responding more productively than others (see our articles in this issue on the student rent strike).

Our newest facility, the Margaret Fell Lecture Theatre next to Chemistry, is now open — well, the building is, although no-one is currently using it. It’s a pleasant, tiered theatre, shaped a bit like Faraday, but with brown seats. The entrances are at the bottom, rather than the top, so students seeking to sneak into their 9am lecture late without being noticed will be very disappointed.

Much of the buzz on campus, such as it exists, comes from movement in and out of the asymptomatic coronavirus testing facility in the Great Hall.

Whether or not we resume face-to-face teaching on Monday 8 March — subtext, for one, is a little sceptical about this — it seems likely that the current slightly occupied mood on campus will persist for a long while yet.

Tranquil Repose

subtext usually tries to avoid telling its readers about things they already know, such as new features on campus, but this term — well, it’s a bit different. Many staff haven’t been back since evacuating in March and may be wondering what the place is like these days; allow us to be your guide.

In short, it’s peaceful. During the day you might only pass 20–30 people, though all the terrifying Protect and Survive-style posters give the place a slightly eerie atmosphere.

Facilities staff have done wonders with signage, hand sanitiser stations and other nuts-and-bolts provisions to minimise any risks. The one-way system in most buildings is usually surplus to requirements, as your chances of passing someone on your corridor are fairly minimal.

WHSmith is closed with no indication of when it will re-open, but Greggs and the ice cream parlour are still trading, whilst Costa is open for take-away drinks and food only.

The campus SPAR on Edward Roberts Court, largely unchanged since it moved into that unit at the end of the ’90s, has had a major makeover. The external fascia has been replaced, the corridors are wider, the coffee machine is near the entrance and the checkout area has been remodelled. The selection does seem to be slightly reduced — one of the appeals of the old SPAR was the bargain warehouse that’s packed to the rafters effect — but the overall shopping experience is a great deal more pleasant. It’s (almost) worth a journey.

The new 400-seat lecture theatre between Faraday and County South seems to be close to completion (from the outside, anyway) and it looks attractive. The Management School extension is almost finished too, although style-wise this resembles a giant Portakabin.

All the college bars, except the Herdwick, re-opened at the start of term — and were well-used during Welcome Week — but now that we are officially a Tier 3 campus, only Fylde’s and Cartmel’s are still trading. The system for ordering food and drink takes a bit of time to get used to (go in, sit down, scan QR code on the table, go to online menu, order, wait for person to approach asking for payment, pay by card, wait for order, receive it in a few minutes) but is well-run. Watching groups of suitably-distanced staff and students sat outside Fylde bar, one could almost forget the odd times we’re in.

In the evenings you often see clusters of students sitting outside (no more than six at a time, of course) on the steps of Edward Roberts Court or Alexandra Square, socialising as best they can. Student societies are mostly meeting online, but there are still plenty of event posters adorning the campus noticeboards.

Because parcels are no longer delivered to colleges, there is now a central parcel collection point on Edward Roberts Court, which has taken over the unit previously occupied by the St John’s Hospice charity shop, who have sadly left campus with no plans to return. This has led to very long, socially-distanced queues of students forming at most times of the day, often snaking all the way down past Furness. Some students have rightly complained that the collection point, and in particular the marquee-style tent erected outside it, is currently blocking the wheelchair access route up to Alexandra Square, thus requiring students in wheelchairs to take the long way round via the lift outside Pizzetta.

The underpass has an efficient one-way system in operation, with one staircase down only and the other staircase up only; so efficient, in fact, that one wonders why they didn’t think of this before. Buses are running as normal (see our bus update later in this issue) but cycle use has increased.

The overall effect is rather like the one year later… coda you often see at the end of a disaster movie, where, even in the face of catastrophe, the signs are that things might just, one day, return to normal. Let’s hope so.

RESTING OUR CASE

Campus observers will have noticed a proliferation of lower-case signs in recent weeks. subtext has already noted ‘law school’ outside the entrance to Bowland North from the spine (see subtext 170), and now we have ‘languages and cultures’ affixed to the wall of Bowland North, facing the Chaplaincy Centre. Why languages gets the outward-facing wall and law gets the inward-facing wall seems a little unclear – and both ‘history’ and ‘students’ union’ are affixed to the wall of Bowland Main. Other lower-case signs have been cropping up in Fylde, Furness and The County colleges. The reaction in the subtext warehouse is somewhat mixed. It is not thought to be orthographically correct, but in the world of advertising and marketing, it is seen as having a cool, casual hip feel with the intention of looking more youth orientated. Whether or not it actually does appeal to the yoof crowd is debatable; pop-culture fads come and go, sometimes losing their appeal almost immediately.

In fiction, lower-case is a stylistic choice that can be used to give a melancholic feel to your writing or, when used in a visual narrative sense, to indicate childishness or, in some cases, idiocy. On a darker note, this trope also has a tendency to appear in most post-apocalyptic fiction where it is used to mark the point where the unfortunate author has gone mad or given up all hope. We welcome readers’ views, and leave it to you to decide why subtext has always rendered itself with a lower-case ‘s’…