Jamie Fraser, Welfare Officer for UCC Students’ Union (UCCSU), released a statement on September 14th 2020 explaining the background to an ongoing dispute between the Students’ Union and Hatch Accommodation services. Mr Fraser explained the situation through that statement, namely that he was seeking a refund for students who had to vacate their residence as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most private and UCC owned college accommodation have issued refunds for unused rent and utilities for the period from March 12th onwards, when the Covid-19 pandemic meant that most students returned home. Hatch Accommodation services did not issue such a refund. Mr. Fraser reached out to Hatch “in an attempt to see if they would show goodwill in returning students the monies they had already paid.” Unfortunately for students, this has not been the case. According to Mr. Fraser, Hatch has been “disrespectful and a nightmare to deal with throughout this whole process.”
Mr. Fraser recounted the fact that Hatch Accommodation, “dodged his phone calls, emails, texts and Facebook messages.” Hatch Accommodation lists two Cork locations on their website, both within a short proximity to UCC. The company has one other college accommodation service based in Carlow town. Hatch accommodation is a luxury student accommodation service with prices per academic year ranging from €8000 upwards. UCCSU estimated the unused rent and utilities that were owed to students was up to the value of €2700.
Mr. Fraser did receive one response from Hatch, but it was vague and noncommittal. Mr. Fraser threatened to publicise their lack of compassion shown towards students. Mr. Fraser explained in his statement that he was quickly pushed aside by Hatch and an offer of a discount of €500 was made to a student, but only on the condition that they “agree to stay there next year.” Mr. Fraser said that the student understandably declined this offer. However, after a period of time, UCCSU noticed that the same offer was made live on the Hatch Accommodation website, even though the company made this offer seem like it was an “exclusive measure of goodwill.”
In the scathing statement which Mr. Fraser issued on behalf of UCCSU, Hatch Accommodation were said to have “been disrespectful and have shown a severe lack of compassion amidst the pandemic.” Mr. Fraser explained that as a representative of the UCC Student Body, he felt that it was his responsibility to “call them out for said actions” and as such he would “not recommend any student to stay in their residence.”
Mr. Fraser’s statement attracted significant media attention, as he outlined the case and further background to the statement on Cork’s 96FM. When contacted by University Express, Mr. Fraser said that unfortunately, there has been no further development, response or reaction from Hatch. “I’ve reached out multiple times, providing multiple opportunities for Hatch to reconcile. However, it seems like they are still choosing to ignore both students and students’ unions requests” Mr. Fraser said.
“Precedent would state that we will not receive a response, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work as hard as we possibly can to ensure students’ rights are fought for. The Students’ Union wants students to know that we’re here for all your concerns and will fight day and night on your behalf.” Mr. Fraser also said that he will “happily” retract the statement, should Hatch “do the right thing” and refund the relevant students.
Should you require assistance with any student’s rights issues, please contact Jamie Fraser, UCCSU Welfare Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org.