On 16 May, Lancaster University Students’ Union made the decision to cancel Grad Ball.
The Students’ Union said that the cancellation was due to disappointing ticket sales and this will be the first time in decades that the annual event will not go ahead.
In the original statement, the Union claimed that: “As we are the students’ union and not the university we still have to pay to hire the Great Hall venue which costs almost the same as hiring Blackpool Tower”.
However SCAN asked the University how much it costs to hire the Great Hall. An FOI revealed that: “for internal business and the Students’ Union, there are no hire costs for the Great Hall. For external businesses booked via Conferences and Events there is a charge of £875, though this may differ in reality as it may be part of a package.”
“There may be additional set up and break down costs for use of the Great Hall that do need to be paid by any user, e.g. security, table hire, AV, sound equipment etc”.
The Students’ Union’s updated statement now claims that the cost of decorating the Great Hall is almost the same as hiring Blackpool Tower.
Qasim Younis, Vice President Union Development told SCAN: “The original statement was published as the result of a misunderstanding and there was no intention to mislead.
“Although there would have been no formal ‘hire charge’ for using the Great Hall for Grad Ball, use of the venue still generates costs such as cleaning and decoration that had to be factored into the Grad Ball budget.”
This statement suggests that the cost of hiring Blackpool Tower and presumably decorating, is the same as decorating and cleaning the Great Hall alone.
Students reacted angrily to the decision to host the Ball on campus. Social media reactions were overwhelmingly negative, where students criticised the event as “an absolute joke” and “a glorified school disco”.
There was widespread controversy over the decision to host Grad Ball in the Great Hall, as the event had been held in Blackpool Tower in the previous years. The Union cited transport costs as a reason to host the event in the Great Hall, as well as a desire to keep the costs involved in hiring the location to a minimum. Tickets were being sold at £45 for early bird, £50 with a purple card and £55 for standard release.
Amidst anger, a rival Grad Ball, titled “Lancaster Ball 2018”, has been set up by students at Viva Blackpool on the 22 June. The event promises to provide coach travel to and from the location as well as a two-course meal. Early Bird tickets have now sold out and were priced at £35 and General Release is priced at £40.
The Students’ Union said that they are: “exploring whether we can find alternative ways of staging the acts that were due to perform – further announcements will be made on this soon.”
“It’s become clear that the union is unable to provide the kind of Grad Ball that you want with the resources available to us, so we are suspending this event for the foreseeable future”.