Peace and Conflict students lose their home
– We don’t approve of their decision, but it didn’t come as a surprise, says Jim Jormanainen, chairman of student association Pax et Bellum.
At the end of February, a protest fika was held in the student lounge at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research. The student associations Pax et Bellum (run by master students at the Department of Peace and Conflict) and UPaD (Uppsala Peace and Development student’s association) were protesting the proposal to vacate the facilities at Gamla Torget 3 – home of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research and Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies – in order to cut costs for the entire campus unit Gamla Torget, in which Kvarteret Munken and some buildings on Trädgårdsgatan are also included.
Jim Jormanainen is the chairman of student association Pax et Bellum. (Photo: Sandra Gunnarsson)
"It’s very sad that they decided to do this"
The proposal meant that two lecture halls, one seminar room and the student lounge would need to be vacated, which is also where the two student associations reside. Despite their efforts, which included writing a letter to the Vice-Chancellor and collecting more than 600 signatures for a petition, the Campus Board decided on Thursday last week, that they would go through with the proposal.
– It’s very sad that they decided to do this, of course, and we still certainly don’t approve of their decision, but it didn’t come as a surprise. The past few days before we heard, there were people in the student areas from, I’m guessing, the Building Division or Campus Board talking about which walls to tear down and stuff like that, says Jim Jormanainen, chairman of Pax et Bellum.
Apart from the blow of losing the physical areas, the decision could affect the Peace and Conflict students’ sense of identity as they will probably need to move around a lot between different campuses, Jim Jormanainen fears. But the period of notice for the premises is one year, and during that time he hopes they will get more clarity as to what will happen to the students who view these areas as their campus home.
– We’re not out yet. Though we haven’t had the time to talk to every other association yet, we will work to get a compensation for the loss of study areas. Also, we will want to see the comprehensive plan for how they are going to save the rest of the money. Vacating Gamla Torget 3 will only save the Campus Board about one million kronor, but they need to save two million per year in total to make up for the cancelled grant they used to get from the Vice-Chancellor, says Jim Jormanainen.
They hope they will be able to start a dialogue with the Campus Board as soon as possible to find a good solution that will make up for the loss of study areas and board rooms for the associations currently residing in Gamla Torget 3.
Claes Levinsson, head representative of Gamla Torget on the Campus board, says that it’s really sad they had to make this decision, but that they really didn’t have any other viable alternatives.
– One solution we discussed earlier was to move the Campus Management, currently situated at rather expensive facilities at Gamla Torget 5, into Östra Ågatan 19 where we would have made a nice reception and create better work environment for the management. However, the Property Director had already promised that The Uppsala Collaboratory would get to use those facilities, he says.
Claes Levinsson explains that campus unit Gamla Torget is a difficult one to manage, since the campus buildings are spread out on several different addresses and have several different landlords, as opposed to campuses such as BMC, Ekonomikum and Engelska Parken. To vacate Gamla Torget 3 was really their only viable option for cutting costs.
– Either we do something about the cost inefficient use of our facilities and our bad economical situation, or we don’t. And if we don’t, it would still affect the students in the end as we would have to save money by cutting down on teacher lead hours in stead, says Claes Levinsson.
They will, however, compensate the students for their loss of study areas at Gamla Torget 3 by creating the same amount of study areas at Gamla Torget 6.
– Also, the student associations residing in Gamla Torget 3 will be offered shared facilities at Gamla Torget 6 that are probably better suited for their purposes than their current ones. There are three associations in total. But it will be up to the departments responsible for the associations to settle the logistics of this rather than the Campus Management, Claes Levinsson says.