Call for catering boycott as bars dispute escalates

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Students are being urged to boycott University catering outlets next week as the momentum behind the campaign to save the college bars gains evermore speed.

Following on the from the events of the last fortnight, many JCRs are now urging ordinary college members to make their displeasure at the University’s actions known by boycotting University Catering. Members from Cartmel and Furness JCR were out leafleting students on Wednesday, detailing which catering outlets were to be boycotted. The list included The Venue, the Management School Hub, Flyde Coffee Shop, Baker House Farm, Bowland Café, the Environment Centre Café and all vending machines. As University Catering outlets all these venues fall under the jurisdiction of David Peeks, the University’s Director of Commercial Services.

University Catering is also currently in charge of three of the college bars: Pendle, County and Cartmel. According to a number of posters which have been placed around campus in the past two weeks, the University plans to eventually take control of all the college bars.  Further to this is the worry that the University could potentially “rent out” the college bars for private, non-student functions. There is already concern over the cutting back of college space, and of course, the increased prices in Catering run bars.“What we are seeing here is a disrespect by University Management for the college space and the college life,” one high ranking member of the Cartmel JCR said. “By taking over the bars and running them how they [the University] want them, they’re not representing the students and they’re not taking into account what we want.”

For some students, the college system was the basis of their choosing to study at Lancaster. For them the thought that this system may soon be null is worrying. One student told SCAN: “I’ve made friends outside of my course through the college bar. That’s why it’s important.”

Further support for the bars campaign was seen with the return of Friday Fury, when students were urged to wear tops and carry banners with messages of support for the college bars written on, although at the time of print it is not known how successful this drive was. There is also talk of a rift inside University Management, with some members of staff coming out in support of the students’ movement. SUBTEXT, the unofficial University newsletter, for example praises the students’ “activism”.

So far LUSU have been relatively quite on the issue. Union President, Michael Payne said: “Whilst I do not condone the personal harassment on any member of University staff, I fully understand why the students are upset on this issue,  as well as understanding their reasons to be angry.”

These sentiments were echoed by LUSU General Secretary, Janie Coleman. She said: “The students obviously care very deeply about their bars and college space. I’m proud to see that they are acting upon this and letting their voices be heard.

“The bars are a focal point to all the colleges. The controversy surrounding this issue pays testament to how passionately the students feel.”

At the other end of the bar, a small minority of students are taking the position that the bars are better off under University Management. Although this view is not widely held, those who do hold it are becoming increasingly adamant about their stance.

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