Struggling to imagine a “funky” space in our concrete jungle.
“Not a heavily populated college, Langwith is known to most students by virtue of its facilities.” Thus opens the description of Langwith college as it appears on that inexhaustible fount of knowledge; Wikipedia. In this case however, Wikipedia seems to have made one of its notorious lapses in accuracy. The entry continues: “a common meeting venue…”.
The tortuous saga of Langwith bar has been drawn out for several terms. Abandoned by students and languishing in pitiful disuse, it’s a fairly depressing sight. I am only aware of how it looks, I hasten to add, because my lectures are held in the hall next door – it remains the only campus bar where I have never purchased anything intoxicating for an evening. Questions of its fate have flown back and forth for months. And what exactly is YUSU’s suggestion? Yet another bar! Fantastic; what could possibly go wrong?
I know, I know, bar bashing has been done and I would honestly like to see something positive in this. I can understand the attraction, in the eyes of the SU, of our ‘very own’ bar; a social hub where student money would come pouring in. There are however, just a few too many glitches in the current scheme for me to embrace it with open arms.
To begin with, there’s the rather glaring problem that the University Policy and Resources Committee has yet to actually give the project the financial go ahead. Not that this has encumbered the spending of much time and resources on consultants, committees and general speculation on the colour of the new venue’s walls. The financial situation as a whole seems in rather a tangle. The results from the asbestos survey have still not been given, so it is impossible to know exactly the price and duration of any work that may need to be done. An initial, now thankfully rejected, design suggestion involved a wall within the walls to avoid actual asbestos removal. And yet somehow it is hoped that the sparkly new bar will be open for test runs by September.
The aim of the bar seems slightly confused as well; Matt Burton lays heavy emphasis on the patronage which ‘lifelong learning’ students taking classes in Langwith might bring, yet also stresses its identity as a York students’ bar. The concept of including a funky, student ‘outdoor space’ seems seductive, until one considers that it will hardly be possible to watch the sun set, nestled amongst those grim grey blocks.
Finally, and inevitably, comes the problem inherent with any University-based bar. Burton would like to reverse the “trend we’re seeing where people are leaving campus”. Well sorry, cosy though campus is, we do like to venture forth from time to time, to enter a world where not everyone has an essay due, and ducks aren’t everywhere. The concept of a new campus waterhole is not inherently doom-laden. It’s just going to have to be pretty damn spectacular if it’s to be pulled off.