The ongoing saga over campus bars trundles inexorably onwards. The latest ‘revelation’ comes in the form of a possible reprieve for the previously doomed Langwith bar. YUSU, clearly thinking of itself as the saviour of students, the beacon of hope, have swooped in to offer to save the bar. The catch? It will be completely renovated and turned into a student-run central venue for all sorts of exciting events.
Somehow, I’m not particularly excited. It’s not just that I don’t trust YUSU to do what it promises, or that Langwith is ridiculously small to be a central venue. It is because, at the end of the day, the scheme will fail. This isn’t cynicism, it is realism. It will cost a lot of money to change Langwith from a fairly shoddy bar, frequented only by hardcore Langwithians and gathering dust between bar quizzes, into an all-singing, all-dancing venue that will actually make a profit. Even if it does makes a profit, Heslington East will be completed before they break even from the construction costs, so it will lie abandoned in favour of our promised shiny new venue.
It is also completely impractical. If you have ever been to Langwith bar, which I concede is fairly unlikely, you will know that structurally it is a mess. A lot of walls will need to be knocked down before any of this planned ‘refurbishment’ can take place, and L/028 as a main dance hall? No thanks.
Because of all this, and more, it is hard to read the proposal put forward by Matt Burton without laughing. Does anyone seriously think that a YUSU-run venue would be something that students would feel ‘a sense of belonging to’? And how exactly does YUSU have ‘a proven track record of operating commercial businesses with low overheads and with excellent service to students here at York’? Have we already forgotten YOUR:Books? What a spectacular commercial success! I can just see the Langwith Bar Clearance Sale looming on the horizon – ‘Fancy a bottle of Bell’s for £2.99? Then come on down to Langwith Bar – Everything must go!’
The proposal may have been met with overwhelming support from current Langwith students, which isn’t surprising given that the alternative is the complete closure of the bar, but apart from the bar quiz, very few of them even go to the bar. They are trying to hold on to something they have very little use for in the first place. Why waste money on a space that is small, unviable for a large event and wholly unpopular? The area is spectacularly more successful during the day as a coffee bar, so why not just expand on that idea?
There isn’t really the need for so many bars on campus. Derwent, Vanbrugh and Goodricke bars are within walking distance for even the laziest of people, so I reckon Langwith should do something different. Here’s my suggestion – turn the entire area into a giant bouncy castle. Yes, there would be Health and Safety issues, but I can guarantee that it will make more of a profit than if YUSU get their claws into it.