Democratically Extravagant

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I sit here writing as a has-been final year student, reminiscing about three years of partying uncontrollably, particularly at our infamous Extravaganzas that celebrate the end of the academic year. The ‘getting right royally intoxicated’ element of them aside, has anyone else noticed the increasing democratisation of the events? The choosing of the theme, involvement of non-JCR members and allocation of tickets have all become increasingly engaging with college members, who, it would be fair to say, now enjoy an increased democratic prerogative.

The release of Extrav themes are the most anticipated announcements around the university. Sitting in the sweltering library pretending to revise, you are disturbed by people shouting across “Fylde’s is circus-themed!” as the topic takes over our discussions for the next few days. Because of this, so much care is taken by each college to ensure theirs’ trumps all others. It was interesting to see Cartmel College use an online opinion poll to see what their college members would prefer as their Extrav. Although the result is kept secret, Cartmel President Joel Pullan says the idea came from the desire to see how engaged Cartmelians are with their Extrav theme and to look at the possibility of next year’s theme being solely decided by a majority vote. Whatever the result, such hands-on and direct representation is great to see.

This is not the first move away from the traditional JCR-dominated organisation for an Extrav. In 2011, Lonsdale’s Extrav Committee included two interviewed applicants from the college. Ex-President Rachel Essex said this decision came from the previous year’s feedback that college members wanted more of a say in its organisation: especially the choice of bands. Essex described the decision as “valuable as they put forward a different perspective” as part of the initiative to make the JCR less ‘cliquey’ within the college. Such a move was interestingly timed alongside the discussions to raise tuition fees (was it THAT long ago?) as it seems that organisers are to be much more accountable and College members much more involved than previously.

Finally, one major reform in Extrav ticket sales saw the introduction of e-tickets purchased online in 2011. The system, I’ve got to admit, is fairer than what I’d seen in 2010. Lucky to get near the front of the queue early on, we spent our afternoon sat in the kitchen witnessing the queue move at a pace of about two yards in two hours and dodgy dealers buying tickets in bulk to run to the back of the queue and sell them at double price for people’s convenience. The system’s loopholes disappeared with this introduction to online purchasing, despite voiced criticisms over the priority for college members. The guaranteeing to members of a college attendance at their own Extrav has got to be positive, yes?

I’m glad to see the cost of tickets remain consistently affordable despite these massive increases in the importance placed on representation, accessibility and accountability. Not that they were previously dictatorial in this sense, but giving college members more chances to voice their opinions and get involved is justified by the hiked-up prices many are paying to be here. Maybe one college could give their Extrav the fitting theme of ‘Democracy’ this year. Wouldn’t it be grand to see an Aristotle or John Locke dancing away to LMFAO’s ‘Sexy and I know It’ with a two-pint of Snakebite in hand?

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