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Both physically and figuratively embodying the heart of our colleges, it would seem obvious that our college bars should hold a central place in the collegiate system at our University. They should be the focal point where we, as a college, unite. Well, maybe not quite like that but the point is that we at Lancaster are more than privileged to have this system in place and we really should be making the most of it. Yet, after walking into one bar last week for what should have been the weekly Pub Quiz and to find it near deserted, it has to be said that something just isn’t right. And I feel it needs to be fixed, sooner rather than later.
Looking at some of the newly created Facebook groups for the upcoming Freshers and seeing them openly debating which college to choose with one another, with some current students loyally throwing out their own suggestions (basically identifying their own College as the best), it’s clear that most people are extremely devoted to their own college; “Do it for the tree!” is being plastered around the forums repeatedly. I know this, because I’ve done it myself!
This is how things should be though. The banter and comic rivalry is memorable between colleges from Freshers Week, walking around Lancaster for the first time, passing a crowd of Cartmel, a line of Lonsdale, a pack of Pendle, each time seeing who can chant and sing and shout the loudest, being as insulting as possible to everyone and anyone not wearing the same coloured t-shirt as yourself. However, Week One hits, the damn Freshers’ Flu takes over, and by the time the coughing dies down in the lecture theatres, the College rivalry and banter is well and truly forgotten. But why?
Because less is more. Now this sounds contradictory, but it’s true. Each college has a weekly social, each college has a weekly pub quiz, yet nine times out of ten either the JCR are doing the quiz amongst themselves, or they’re getting drunk together, and alone, in their own college bar. Now I know this is a generalisation and isn’t the case for all, but for some it is reality. With there being something small nearly every week, with most people assuming the turn-out will be minimal so won’t bother heading down to the bar, each week proves to be a failure. But I think the reason this happens is because each college bar is not being utilised not nearly enough.
I remember Freshers Week, and as a County student I have to go back to our own example, walking into County Bar, it being decorated completely in an assortment of jungle decorations, the dance floor (what dance floor? Yeah we don’t use it for that during the year) being jam-packed with people dressed vibrantly in jungle attire, and basically the whole bar buzzing with students having a great time together. Then following chants “To the Tree! To the Tree!” we went to the infamous County Tree, chanting, singing, laughing, all in all embracing our new-found roles within our own College. I turned to my Rep that night and asked if this happened all year, but she said it did not. Even though I had a great night, part of me thought it was a shame this was more of a one-off than a regular occasion.
But why can’t it happen more often? Instead of the weekly “socials” held by many colleges, can they not be combined into creating a much greater end of term (maybe even a mid-term or a start of term) bonanza where the College unites as one? In our bars, using them as the social representatives they could be, opposed to the forgotten, mere drinking areas they have become for many?
Now is the time to make a change, to make our colleges and the rivalry something for the next generation of students to become passionate about from the off, making their Fresher’s experience something lasting throughout their time here, opposed to the forgotten laughs of that single week. Let’s breathe more life into the heart of our colleges and let’s make Lancaster the place it can be.