A group of unshapely, seemingly abandoned buildings, sitting just beyond the Rafters bar. Somehow imposing and squat at the same time, rows upon rows of windows stare at the drunk revelry of O-Week, tiny eyes encircled by faded blue eyeshadow.
So what are these towers?
Are they former accommodation blocks, long past their use-by date but too expensive to pull down? Are they just waiting until CSU has international student cash to burn, ready to become the home of some future corporate partnership? Or is this a public service from the Uni, generously providing possums, brown snakes and squatters alike a roof over their heads on through cold Bathurst nights?
Well, one thing’s for sure; CSU sure as hell doesn’t know.
“Just the culture of being there”
Mac-Reith Snare was one of the last to leave the place. Towers was his home from 2019 to the premature end of on-campus living in March 2020. He says what made Towers unique was the culture that had built up over such a long time.
“One of the biggest things was just the culture of being there, it was just so fun”
The buildings themselves were completed in 1968 when the Bathurst campus was officially known as a Teacher’s College. Even in the earlier years, the building was notorious for a party culture and serendipitously simple roof access.
“Because the dorms were so open to each other, you had that opportunity to mix. You had fun hanging out, and by three weeks in, you were all best friends anyway.”
Looking from outside, you’d sometimes get the idea that it was just a maze of interlocking corridors and hook turns into sub-levels. But according to Mac, it was simply superstition and exaggeration, designed to bolster the mythos of the Res.
“I think the stereotype, looking from the outside, was that you wouldn’t be able to find anything, but once you were in there, it was fine.
That mythos soared to pretty dizzying heights. A quick look through the now abandoned Facebook page tells a story of ironic and immense pride in their dominance of the Res Cup and Mr CSU. A paramedics practise wing that was barely open a year. A ‘You do You’ week, focussed entirely on increasing self-acceptance, and building a community on tolerance.
And this is just the posts from 2019.
Or at least that’s how it was described by the media team.
There have been concerns about the structural integrity of the two blocks before. In the late 90s, there were protests on campus about a new paint job on the entire place, which the students say was to cover up dry rot.
The most recent concerns were in 2013-2014, when there were major renovations on the entire facility. The university at the time said the work was necessary to fix structural damage ‘driven by excessive movement and settlement of the ground’. They also cited issues with the ‘brickwork, physical damage and structure, compliance issues, fire safety upgrades and minor electrical issues’. All fixed in 2013, of course, and in no part the reason all entrances to the buildings are now covered with metal gates emblazoned ‘Danger’.
When answering our questions, a CSU spokesperson (it’s a secret who it is, apparently) said the buildings “are in stand-by mode”, and that “there are no further plans for refurbishment”.
They did move to reassure us, saying that the buildings at least won’t collapse in the near future, and that “all statutory maintenance will be performed on the building to ensure safety and compliance.”
But the secret spokesperson wouldn’t be drawn on what the buildings were used for now. Apparently, “there are no plans to use the buildings for student accommodation”, nor any plans to use them “for non-residential activities.”
Which begs the question; what else?
Next stop, Towers
For Mac, the rose-tinted glasses are well and truly on when he looks back at his time on Res. He says the culture built around the place was infectious.
“To be quite frank, 2019 was the best year of my life, because I lived at Towers.”
If you’re a current or former student who lived in Towers, or have memories from its 50 year history, we’d love to hear your story. Share them with us on our Facebook page.