Union statement on partial closure

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It is with deep regret that we need to share news with members that the Students’ Union is facing a partial closure ahead of the 2023-24 academic year.

On Wednesday 6 September, during a structural safety inspection of the Students’ Union ahead of Welcome Week, reinforced aerated autoclaved concrete (RAAC) was identified in the fabric of the building. Given the heightened safety concerns over the use of RAAC, which was an extremely common building material from the 1950s through to the 1990s, the Students’ Union and University have taken the joint decision based on expert advice to introduce a temporary partial closure of Students’ Union spaces.

We have received assurances from the University contracted structural engineers that any closure need only affect the upstairs portion of the Union. This will mean that Studio, our staff offices and the Media Office will be closed until further notice alongside the Chaplaincy, but other areas downstairs will be open and safe for students.

This means that we are aiming to re-open Starbucks (Underground) albeit with a limited menu from Thursday 7 September. We are also able to put on a range of evening activity as advertised in our Welcome Week. It may however mean that some events may not go ahead as planned due to logistical issues of having the Venue open as a daily social space and bar. We will continue to keep you updated via our website and social media channels regarding any changes to the programme. The Welcome UV party will go ahead as planned on Thursday 7 September. 

We are aware than many societies will have materials they need in our Union spaces and may be concerned about getting hold of them ahead of the start of term. We are working closely with the University to arrange a relocation of all necessary materials from Union spaces and will communicate directly with societies once we have a clearer picture.

This news has obviously come as a shock to us and we thank you all for your patience – we are gutted as it isn’t the start to the term we’ve been hoping for but rest assured we’ll do all we can to still make it a welcome to remember.