The University has been criticised this week for allowing a third-year student, Jason Rose, to organise and hold an event in Central Hall from which he made a personal loss of over £2,000.
Rose was allowed to invest £4,400 of his own money into the event held last Saturday, named 13:3, which was endorsed by the Christian Union.
The money covered the costs of hiring the band, equipment, porters and duty managers, which are required by the University for health and safety reasons.
However, while the University communicated with Rose regarding health and safety issues, and the apt provision of sufficient funds to cover the University costs, he did not have to go through any procedures or checks to ensure the event would be financially viable and that he would be protected from losing such a considerable sum of his own money.
“It’s unacceptable that a student has been allowed to take on thousands of pounds worth of liability in a campus venue with no checks or balances put in place.”
YUSU Welfare Officer
Rose’s consequent loss has caused concern among some who have viewed this as the University prioritising profit over student welfare.
For the event, starring the renowned Christian band, ‘The Gentlemen’, Rose needed to sell 650 tickets or more to break even, but on the night only sold around 200 tickets.
Rose stated that the University had been “very helpful in organising the event and communicating with [him] about all sorts of issues”, and that they have gone “far beyond the call of duty in supporting the event”.
However, there have been questions over whether the University’s role should be more personal and supportive of the individual student rather than the event as a whole.
Ben Humphrys, YUSU Welfare Officer commented: “This is a prime example of the University failing in its duty of care; it’s unacceptable that a student has been allowed to take on thousands of pounds worth of liability in a campus venue with no checks or balances put in place.”
He continued to state: “In recognising this failure of process, I expect the University to waive any sum owed to it for the event and immediately implement a review of the system to prevent this happening again. YUSU already protects individuals and societies who run events through us around campus; if the University can’t offer the same protection they should ensure that we’re involved, or at least that some safeguards are in place, before negligently signing off on an event.”
Jon Greenwood, Head of Financial Services, stated that such an event is “taken at the student’s own risk.”
He continued: “All that is required is an event request form, which is then coordinated through health and safety. Our role is just to act as space managers, we don’t really do anymore than that. We probably ought to be allowed to do more, and get more involved with the students or colleges who run these events. Especially since he isn’t using the bar, we haven‘t really been involved in Jason Rose’s event at all.”
Lewis Bretts, YUSU Democracy and Services Officer, also voiced his concern that the University has allowed Rose to get into such a financially awkward situation, stating: “If he had organised the event through YUSU, we would have offered support and advice based more around personal student welfare, making him go through procedures beforehand to ensure he didn’t make such a considerable personal loss. I would hope that the University has similar standards and procedures, though it doesn’t appear that any of these took place.”
Bretts continued: “It’s awful that the University has allowed him to get into such a situation. Even though it isn’t a YUSU event, I have personally offered Jason any assistance he wants. I would always hope that the University would take all necessary steps to protect students, though unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case.”
However, Rose claims that he “tried to talk to YUSU but they didn’t help”, and that he does not believe the University “could have done anything futher to support the ticket sales”.
Nonetheless, despite the loss incurred, Rose still remained positive about the event, commenting: “It really was a great event – the sound quality was amazing and everything ran very smoothly. It was a success in that we proved what a great venue Central Hall can be for the future.”
“The problem is that it’s always going to be difficult to sell tickets [for] these bigger events. I still believe it was worth all the work I put in.”
The event was the first gig held in Central Hall since the 1980s, when the University banned it from being used as a concert venue following structural concerns that crowds jumping up and down in Central Hall were causing its foundations to sink into the lake.