by Chris Davis and Dan Hogan
The hiring out of college bars for external functions has been attacked by the LUSU president, Michael Payne.
Disruption caused by guests at a wedding held in Pendle bar on April 18, officially one day into the start of the Summer term, gave rise to the criticism.
The event was staged on the same Saturday that saw many students returning to campus following the Easter break, and was also during the quiet period designated by the university to prevent disturbance to students who are preparing for examinations. Mr Payne called the situation “outrageous”.
The wedding was booked as early as last summer through Pendle college itself. Although external functions such as weddings and conferences have been held before at other colleges such as Lonsdale and Cartmel, this was the first of the kind of be held in Pendle bar.
Both the college Porters and subsequently the police were called during the course of the evening following an altercation between two wedding guests, reportedly the result of a licentious game that got out of hand.
Speaking to SCAN, Mr Payne said: “It’s outrageous that students are being continually ousted from their college social spaces during term time in such an unaccountable way by external functions which have no link whatsoever to the colleges or the university.
“It is also deeply irresponsible, when such an event was known to be taking place, for external security not to have been hired to oversee the event, instead of letting the burden fall on already over-stretched porters,” he sid. “Students were complaining about being woken up all night by guests at the party, and it isn’t acceptable, especially during the quiet period.
“The students union and the JCRs are – rightly – expected to jump through hoops when planning events on this scale. If the university insists on entertaining external functions, at least the same rules should apply to them as well.”
However, the bar’s assistant licensee, Zita Duffy, downplayed the incident, calling it a “small fight” that had got “blown out of proportion” by following reports. She stressed that similar incidents often take place at events such as each college’s end of year extrav, which, unlike external functions, have bouncers present to diffuse trouble. “Because it wasn’t students involved” she said, “this has attracted more attention than it otherwise would have done.” The calling of the police, she maintained, was merely “standard procedure”.
However, questions remain over why the wedding was held during the university’s quiet period, which forbids any “noise of unreasonable volume at unsuitable times” in any area close to residential accommodation. Students in accommodation adjacent to the bar reported that guests from the wedding reception were making noise outside their rooms after midnight. Some of those students had examinations on Monday 20, only two days after the disturbances took place.
Concerns about the increasing use of college facilities for external functions were expressed by student campaigners earlier in the year following the takeover of some of the college bars by the university’s Commercial Services division, which now controls all bars on campus.
However, according to the sister of the groom, who booked the bar for the event, it was the Pendle college principal, Peter Scullion, and not the university’s hospitality division, that agreed to the use of the bar for party.
Ms Duffy indicated that it was likely that the incident on April 18 would not prevent all bars being increasingly used this way in the future, since the wedding gave the bar more money than it took in the whole last two weeks of the Lent term.