YUSU are to offer full support to the Alcuin campaign to save their college bar after it became the latest in a chain of campus bars to be threatened with closure.
The campaign, entitled ‘Save B Henry’s’, was the only motion presented at the Student Union General Meeting on November 7. Alcuin JCRC Chair Erik O’Connor was the first speaker to present an argument for the motion, emphasising the importance of the establishment not only as bar but also as a catering outlet.
Although the bar is estimated to have made a loss of up to £10,000 last year, O’ Connor commented that the figures provided “made him doubt the accounting [of Commercial Services]”. Alcuin Provost, Tony Ward, supported the Alcuin chair and challenged the suggestion that the bar isn’t economically and commercially viable.
O’Connor also criticised the attitude of Commercial Services, saying that it dated back to the 1980s, when the then-Vice-Chancellor regarded the University from a “commercial point of view”.
B Henry’s has become the latest college social space to face closure, following last year’s decision to cease trading in JJ’s, the Halifax college bar. It is intended that this campaign will “set a precedent” and aims to sway Heslington Hall in their decision.
YUSU President Tom Scott and Societies and Communications Officer Rory Shanks both seconded the motion. Speaking at the UGM, Shanks criticised the level of communication between the University and YUSU saying that “consultation from Commercial Services is abysmal. B Henry’s is an asset to students, it’s an asset to Alcuin college and it’s an asset to the University.”
Nobody came forward to speak against the motion.
O’ Connor has sent a proposal to save the bar to members of the Student Service’s Committee, and maintains “hope that Heslington Hall will listen to us. They’ve made some signs of listening to us,” he commented, but admitted that his experience of working with the sub-committee of the Student Services Committee wasn’t “as good as it could have been.”
The issue of campus bars has been a point of contention between the University and the Student’s Union for some time. Previous to the recent bar closures, the University cut opening hours following a failed YUSU campaign to keep establishments open seven days a week. However, YUSU President Scott says that this time, “we’ve got a plan, and we’ve got the Provost on our side. Normally I would be really cynical about this, but this time I’m not”.