|[ Visit our discussion forum.]|
|University:||University of Cambridge|
|Address:|| Darwin College,|
|Student Union/JCR website:||Darwin Student's Association|
Darwin college is a postgraduate college.
On the corner of Silver Street and Newnham Road. It is 5-10 minutes from the centre of town, about 5 minutes from the Sidgwick site (law, history, languages, English, classics, music and other faculties), and 7-8 minutes from the library.
There are three "green" areas nearby (as well as the lawn and island on campus), behind the college on the backs is a particularly nice field with pretty bridges, cows, and trees. Less than a minute away are three pubs, and three restaurants. 1-2 minutes away down Newnham road is the petrol station that has the closest cash point. The next nearest cash point to my knowledge is 5-10 minutes walk into town.
The College grounds are not however grand by Cambridge standards, falling far short of the usual Cambridge fair.
The college has a mix of both en-suite and shared bathroom accommodation, although the majority is shared. Over 100 rooms are available on-site with a further 150 off-site in which to house 600+ members of the college - so not all students will be able to get college accommodation. The college tries to accommodate all first students in college properties, but some late applicants may not initially be able to live in college/college houses. A summary of rooms is availiable on the | Darwin website.
For the self-contained flats, it is important to note that the quality and facilities are not always high standard. For instance there are a number of flats that do not have showers but only baths. Insulation is extremely poor with windows that sometimes cannot be closed, and consequently heating bills that sky-rocket in the winter (for the flats, the students pay the bills themselves). The accommodation office often keep dumb about this in the application process, and dismiss any concerns. Very bad service is registered by a number of students. Avoid Darwin if you can.
Also be aware that the College charge a £45.00 charge for activating internet. This will not be mentioned but will magically appear on your first bill (which needs to paid immediately).
Officially, you can't express a preference for what accommodation you'd like to be in at Darwin. The general trend is for international students/students wth international-sounding names to be placed in the more modern, more expensive accommodation. HOWEVER - if you write on the accommodationr request form which accommodation (rank them if you have to!) you'd like to be placed in, the accommodation staff will generally try to give you your choice. The Newnham Terrace houses are less expesive than The Maltings/Gwen Rav/FYH but remember - there's a good reason why they're cheaper...
Darwin's bar - DarBar - is very popular and inexpensive, both with current and former students, and outsiders. It's a members-only bar, staffed by Darwin students (a paid role!), and it's possible to sign in up to three guests. The bar is in the corner of the common room, a large space with table tennis etc, views over the river and Darwin's island, comfy chairs and a wifi hotspot for the college wifi.
Library and Computing
All of the rooms in Darwin have wired internet (don't forget your ethernet cable), with some rooms having limited wifi access. Within the college site there is a wifi network - useful if you want to check your emails while on the move, or if you want to work in the gardens. There is a combined study centre and library overlooking the mill pond, accessed with a card available to Darwin members.
The library consists of:
- A limited supply of books (with an online catalogue see collages A-N: Newton Library Catalogue)
- A small DVD catalogue, with limited access
- An upstairs with an open area overlooking the pond with desks, lamps, and plug sockets
- Upstairs there is also a workroom with a large table and plug
- Downstairs there are a set of 4(?) rooms with computers
- These house around 1 new imac, 3 new(ish) imacs, 2 older macs, 4 pcs, (these are routinely upgraded), 2 printers, other hardware like scanners etc, and more desks. At times there are is a computer technician available for IT support.
- A unisex toilet and a disabled toilet.
The welfare provision at Darwin can be variable from year to year, depending on the committment of the DCSA welfare officer and the Dean. There are numerous accounts of the current Dean to be dismissive, rude and with little real concern for the students if they have welfare problems. If you're having academic or welfare problems, you can go to either of these individuals with your problems. However, Darwin doesn't have the money or resources to provide some of the welfare provisions found at other colleges eg. a college nurse, a chaplain, college counselling service etc. The college has a poor reputation for welfare with CUSU/local GPs/the University Counselling service. If you think that you might need this service, avoid Darwin, as the responsible structures do nothing to alleviate your problems, and instead have a tendency to pile on to them -wittingly or unwittingly. Before the current Dean leaves (he has been in this position for 9 years) there is no hope for betterment.
Welfare provisions in 2012 have been mixed. The College is very happy to deal with welfare issues that pass smoothly through well-established university structures (disability etc.) but remains unreasonably heavy handed with College members living in College accommodation. Where college staff deem themselves to have a right to interfere interfere they will. For example do not expect to be able to provide yourself with a comfortable mattress or modify your living space (i.e. bringing furniture - office chairs etc.) without a headlong battle with cleaning staff, the Clerk of Works, the Bursar or indeed the dean. So long as "order" is maintained (note: the use of personal electrical equipment in the kitchens and/or anything other than college furniture is considered "disorder") the College feels that its job is done. The College does not seem concerned about the damage it causes to its reputation.
- There is a dining room and canteen style lunch and dinner service. The food is generally of a poor standard (with periodical articles in the Student newspapers ranking Darwin canteen at the bottom in terms of food quality and hygiene). The menu and price list availiable online, click here for more information. There is formal on Wednesday (formal and normal service) and Friday (formal only) which are booked online. (Note: the dining hall cannot be booked by societies)
- There is a common room with seats and a bar. Opposite the bar is a second room that contains a table tennis table, snooker table (50p), and tabletop footie. This room can be booked out by societies (but is in high demand). The room is of average size, and can accommodate for around 4-6 people participating in an active sport (like a martial art).
- There is a tea room which is generally used during formals and after food for that after dinner tea or coffee. This is bought in the dinner hall.
- The porter's lodge is possibly the best facility in the college. Make friends with these guys (and girl) they are ace!. The porter's lodge (or plodge) also contains your pigeon halls for receiving internal and external mail. Any signed mail will be signed by the porters, they then email you to say a parcel has arrived.
- There is a very tiny kitchen. Its not meant to be used by students, but if you're desperate you can try and ask to use it.
- Toilets: guys and girls. In the girls (and I presume the guys) there are lockers.
- There is a reading room, which has daily newspapers to read
- A great TV room which is sometimes hired out to clubs and societies with a regular film club
- The all important water machine (free) and coffee machine (40p) is close to the TV room
- There is a vending machine on the other side of the TV room, this has chocolates, crisps, and fizzy drinks.
- There are photocopying machines which students have limited access to through the bursar's secretary.
- There is also a paper slicer and machine for binding if you have the right materials.
- There is a very small and limited gym
- There is a laundry room with washers and dryers. You will need a card from the Porter's lodge to use it
- The college owns four(?!) punts, see the porter for more information.
This is a limited list of facilities I have encountered this year. There may be others.