When it was announced that the Carnatic Halls of Residence were to be demolished as part of the university’s redevelopment programme, it would not have shocked me to hear that the reaction was generally one of dismay. Being a resident of the student village myself, it has become abundantly clear over the past few weeks that, despite seeming initially poor, there is simply no other accommodation quite like Carnatic. So can the university’s decision be genuinely justified?
Once you start to consider the positives of the accommodation located in Mossley Hill, it is easy to see why so many current students and alumni have such an affinity for it. An aspect that characterises the sort of experience you can expect from staying at Carnatic is the amount of time spent socialising. It starts right from the beginning of the day at breakfast in Carnatic House, when those living in the same halls tend to go together and discuss the events of the night before. Then there is the bus journey, allowing another 25 minutes or more of possible conversation both to and from the campus, all before your evening meal and a potential night out, where cramming over a dozen people inside a tiny kitchenette makes being a social introvert basically impossible. I can say with pride that, although it has only been 3 weeks, this routine of social gathering has encouraged several of my flatmates to come out of their shells a lot more than perhaps they would have anticipated. And this socialising isn’t restricted to just one floor, block or even halls, as I have made friends with people dotted around the student village thanks in large part to the Carnatic way of life.
The importance of Carnatic to the university can be heard in the views of my fellow undergraduate students living in campus accommodation. Half a dozen people who live in halls such as Vine Court and Melville Grove have told me that the general atmosphere created in their respective residencies doesn’t come close to replicating that of Carnatic. They mentioned that the stories they hear coming from the student village tend to leave them with a generally positive impression of the accommodation.
Of course, this by no means masks the obvious downsides to Carnatic, of which there are several. Eating chips as a side in your evening meal every day has already begun to feel like Groundhog Day, and although the service provided by the canteen is of a good standard, I can’t help but draw parallels between this eating space and the ones we became accustomed to at secondary school. The need to get a bus ride is not only sometimes uncomfortable when queues swell, but also rather costly, despite the reduced prices we have received this year. Riding a bike is always an alternative, but doing this with the onset of winter doesn’t seem overly practical. The key inconvenience is the shared facilities – having just two showers between a group of over 20 certainly caused me to raise my eyebrows prior to arrival, and despite now being used to the situation, I’m not surprised by students in campus accommodation that nearly choke at the thought.
Alongside these issues is the continued redevelopment of the surrounding area and the city of Liverpool in general. There are multiple buildings currently under construction that create a modern vibrancy and show the progression of Liverpool over the last decade or so, and, when comparing these to Carnatic student village, the outcome is much like playing with toys – you always go for the shiny new one. There is an impression that Carnatic has struggled to keep up with the times, especially with the refurbishments of the Greenbank student village just down the road. It provides many facilities that students find attractive nowadays, such as a spanking new gym and astro turf pitches, which certainly get my seal of approval, as well as the basic necessities that still can’t even be offered at Carnatic.
One of my flatmates said this week: “Instead of building more new accommodation, why don’t they just refurbish Carnatic? It would probably be cheaper, too.” But to take out the basins and baths and introduce all new state-of-the-art facilities would surely be removing the very essence of the student village, and what makes it so unique and cherished. I would say that keeping Carnatic around for at least another couple of years, to see whether the investment into Greenbank is worthwhile, would’ve been a sensible option. However, with the decision already made, it’s time to start creating a few final memories in the accommodation and enjoying every part of it whilst it still remains.