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July 29, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Uni Sheds Pipi-tear

Just days after the University announced the purchase of recording label Rattle, there was a very different sort of rattle going on at Victoria as earthquakes paralysed all campuses last week.

All students enjoyed a day off on Monday, with University campuses closed in order for damage to be assessed following Sunday’s 6.5-magnitude quake. By Monday night, Kelburn, Karori, and Te Aro campuses had been declared safe, and were operating as usual by Tuesday morning. At the time Salient went to print, the Pipitea campus was set to reopen on Monday 29 July.

“Buildings at all University campuses have been inspected by specialist seismic engineers and all have been cleared as safe to use,” a University spokesperson told Salient.

“There was superficial damage in a number of buildings. This includes broken windows, objects falling over, and cracks.”

It is too soon for the financial impact of the earthquake to be known.

The only campus not to reopen on Tuesday was Pipitea as Law and Commerce students faced cancelled lectures and worse, with some classes moved to Karori.

As a result of cancellations, assessments for Law and Commerce students are to be rescheduled, with further announcements being made this week. Exam dates have also been altered to reflect the week lost as a result of cancellations. Students wanting to learn more about course changes are advised to check Blackboard.

Acting Dean of Law Gordon Stewart has said all markers and lecturers would be lenient on students affected by the quakes.

“It will be a case-by-case basis, but the earthquake is a huge inconvenience for many. Students are already stressed and strained, let alone chucking an earthquake on top and assignments as well,” said Stewart.

Dean of Commerce Professor Bob Buckle told Salient that affected students would not be disadvantaged.

“We appreciate that this may be an inconvenience for some, but we want to ensure you are provided with every opportunity to cover the appropriate material.”

A number of the University’s Halls of Residence sustained damage. Cumberland had cracks and crumbling in the stairwell, Boulcott residents reported internal cracking on the walls, and a roof panel fell off in Te Whanau, the newest building in Weir House.

University Halls of Residence were not evacuated after the quakes. Associate Director of Student Accommodation Nick Merrett told Salient halls were not evacuated as the University sets a “high standard of seismic compliance” for all halls.

“As a result, [the University] has a high level of confidence in the earthquake resilience of its Halls,” said Merrett.

As a precautionary measure, structural engineers checked all Halls beginning on Sunday night. With halls were declared safe following the checks.

Halls have civil-defence cabinets and emergency supplies for residents, though residents are also encouraged to ensure that they have their own kit. In the case of an evacuation, the University will arrange temporary alternative accommodation for residents.

By Sunday night, a ‘Wellington Student Volunteer Army’ Facebook group had been set up in the image of the Canterbury Student Volunteer Army (SVA). Canterbury’s SVA was a central part of the volunteer effort after the 2010 Darfield and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

The Wellington SVA had helped to clean up at Saatchi & Saatchi, and were also organising a clean-up for the Law Library.

As Salient went to print, the Wellington page had over 500 members. Those who want to volunteer can find the ‘Wellington Student Volunteer Army’ Facebook page at facebook.com/svawgtn, or email them at wellington@sva.org.nz.

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