What is cold, wet and very unwelcome? Your first answer will no doubt be the VC and self-annointed Gold Commander Steven ‘two jobs’ Spier. But it might also be the news that there has been another flood in the EM Building at Pen Rd, much to the disgust and anger of staff. It happened late on the evening of 9th January, and staff returning to their offices and labs on the morning of 10th January found a soggy mess waiting for them and their access to rooms and offices, in a number of cases, completely barred.
So successful have KU managers been in keeping quiet and covering up the incident that many staff across the University have remained blissfully unaware of it, and do not even know it happened. But for those staff and students who were affected by it at Pen Rd, it has had very serious consequences. Not only were various staff offices flooded and books and other equipment ruined, but sports science facilities and forensics work were also seriously damaged. Some of the lab work had to be junked (and some of the forensics work, by the way, was being carried out for outside contracts held by Kingston). So this latest embarrassment has cost the Uni a considerable sum of money.
What has been so shocking for staff in the EM Building is that this is the second serious flooding in 3 years. The previous incident (linked to the JG Building right next to the EM block) occurred over a Christmas break and was not discovered for a long while because there was nobody in the building at the time and, for some reason, security staff seemed to be asleep on the job. Predictably, lots of big promises were made at that time by KU’s Senior Lack-of-Leadership Team (‘it won’t happen again’, ‘it’s a one-off’, and so on). Yet here we are again. And, remember, this has also had serious consequences for the work of students, especially final year ones, who have just entered their vital second semester.
So, the next time you hear Vice-Admiral Spier boasting yet gain about all the millions that was lavishly spent on the Clown House, and what a great achievement it has all been, winning awards and meeting his ‘vision’ etc, etc (yawn), just remember how that building has sucked up mountains of money while other parts of the Pen Rd campus were crying out for repairs, crucial maintenance and renewal. The latest flooding in the EM Building illustrates this perfectly, and is a tragedy that could so easily have been avoided. As ever, though, KU’s senior managers have been caught out again, utterly failing to anticipate maintenance issues that could have been dealt with had they been doing their jobs properly. The current Estates team are clearly inadequate, but ultimately the buck stops at the top.
And if you want to ask Spiersy any questions about this or other matters and put him on the spot, you are out of luck. His latest meeting with staff, to be held in his personal cathedral to extravagance, the Clown House (where else?), will see him take questions from staff – but only ones that have been submitted and vetted beforehand. The Gold Commander is so frightened of being thrown a difficult question that he is ensuring, yet again, complete control over the meeting. A free and frank discussion? No chance. What do you think Kingston is – a University?