YUSU welfare must help rather than hinder students

Jason Rose’s 13:3 gig in Central Hall may have been a failure, but YUSU have let themselves down by allowing it to happen

ad by all. What could possibly go wrong? The result though was almost two-thirds of the available tickets remaining unsold, organiser Jason Rose facing a phenomenal personal loss of upwards of £2,000, and the event being mired with bickering between YUSU and the University.

The promotion was certainly lacklustre; many found out about the gig just days before the event. It resulted in a horrendous shortfall in ticket sales, which means that we must ask: where was the promotion? Where were the posters, the flyers, the word of mouth? Surely, with the reach of the Christian Union behind it, 13:3 could manage a bit more than a Facebook group and a 17 second video. Perhaps holding the event on the same evening as election results night was futile, and poster-space around campus was probably compromised with the ubiquity of electioneering fluff last week, but still, the organisation of 13:3 evidently didn’t help. Organisational issues aside however, it is the welfare question that raises more concern.

Roses’ significant financial loss raises the obvious questions as to how it could be allowed to happen, but the welfare storm it has created has the wrong target: it is not the University admin at fault. YUSU have been caught dreadfully short, and they are desperately trying to shift the blame.

The University’s responsibility is, as they have said, to only ensure that health and safety regulations are kept to, and that the staff and resources required to do this are covered financially. Criticising them for not doing more is counter-intuitive, especially as they have expressed a clear desire for greater involvement in event organisation. Instead of attacking them, YUSU should be working with the University to ensure that the suitable procedures safeguarding student welfare are in place. That YUSU aren’t making moves to discuss the issue and have instead rushed into an offensive creates the feeling that they are more concerned with covering their own backs than organising the provision of comprehensive welfare.

Organisational issues aside, it is the welfare question that raises more concern

More ominous yet is the suggestion by Lewis Bretts that all this would have been avoided if Rose went through YUSU. This has the potential to immensely restrict future events, as organisers might feel that they will lack protection from financial problems if they try and go it alone. 13:3 shouldn’t have to be a YUSU event to qualify for assistance. Since when did student welfare only apply if it was YUSU-approved?

Bretts’ offer of personal assistance also rings hollow: the offer and infrastructure to help should have been there before Rose invested and lost so much money. If there is a welfare gap, that gap should be filled by YUSU. After all, it is YUSU, and not necessarily the University, who must concern themselves with the welfare of students. They must act to reassure students that the protection will be there in the future.

With the grim state of live music on campus, this is one set back that we cannot afford to have. Whilst the recent relaunch of Alcuin’s B Henry’s as a live music venue goes some way to address the problem, and the continuing open-mic nights are an important outlet for musical talent, we need these big events to jump-start a general campus-based live music culture. Jason Rose has to be commended for staking so much on bringing such a large event to campus, and the first Central Hall gig in nearly twenty years should be celebrated.

However YUSU’s response to the event’s financial failure certainly should not. Their attack on the University illustrates a rushed attempt to conceal a worryingly large welfare issue, and suggests very little will within YUSU to address it. That this has denied any profits reaching charity is a shame. That it might result in putting off students from attempting similar scale events in the future though is a disgrace.

8 comments

  1. Despite the push for gigs to return in Central Hall (in both 13:3 and the slogans used in D&S campaigns), how often do people actually look at the success of York venues like Fibbers and the Duchess to see that this might not be such a viable option? These venues have smaller capacities and bigger acts, and probably make more money from drinks/club nights. Some great bands have found themselves playing to audiences of 50-100 people in Fibbers in recent years – how do we expect to fill a less profitable venue?

    Plenty of students get into debt all the time, and YUSU/the University admin should help Jason Rose as they would any other student. But it feels stupid to play a blame game where the options are either YUSU/The University: students should be allowed the freedom to use facilities for events without being nannied. Anyone willing to invest such a sum of their own money should be willing to investigate how worthwhile the investment is THEMSELVES. There shouldn’t be a pre-expected system in place that watches out for students who spend their money badly. If someone should have been looking out for his spending, what’s to say that the hundreds of people who book out central hall through uni societies shouldn’t be nannied as well? What about JCRC events too? I don’t think that the producers/treasurers involved in the socs would appreciate being undermined because of this event.

    Having said this, perhaps there’s an even worse outcome which is the entire uni (if they care) talking constantly about what’s happened to Jason, and messing up his right to privacy in this situation.

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  2. How about a whip-round for ~J?

    We could all sponsor him twenty pence for every article he doesn’t comment on?

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  3. What about twenty pence for every article I *do* comment on? It’d raise more money :P

    And I was asked whether it was ok to name me in advance by Nouse… I felt that since the event went well, I had no problem in getting a little credit for 9 months of work, even if I lost money. I don’t see my privacy as being a massive deal though obviously everybody knowing that I lost a ton of money isn’t ideal >.> :P

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  4. But if we sponsor you not to comment, you make money and we do not have to read your comments (no offence).

    Everybody wins

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  5. 17 Mar ’10 at 1:17 pm

    Lets be honest now...

    That is offensive Dan, and saying (no offence) doesn’t change that.

    A success Jason? I don’t think you can call an event that lost £2,000 and only attracted 200 people a success.

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  6. I’m pretty certain that it is a univeral rule, that if one says no offence, then offence can’t be taken.

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  7. Depends on how you define ‘success’ – I define it, when it’s the first gig in Central Hall, as one that has no management or running issues. It went ahead and kept to time. The bands said that they enjoyed the experience, the people present said that I should do another event (though next time I don’t have the money to underwrite it so can’t) and the venue didn’t fall into the lake, crack into pieces or catch on fire… None of the physical risks that were suggested came about. Dancing didn’t cause an implosion. The *only* problem was the lack of people but as was shown with RAG and their toga party article, most people at the event don’t mind too much and it doesn’t significantly affect the quality of the event. Just the profits.

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  8. 18 Mar ’10 at 12:08 am

    General Nicholas Alexander

    Jason you really should know when to stop chomping at the bit. Let these comments be and move on, as there’s no point in fighting a battle you can’t win!

    The first gig in Central Hall in however many years should have been the second-coming of ents on campus: a packed out bonanza and not something that sold less than a good night at B Henry’s

    I must say though that regrettably, your comment that “the people present said that I should do another event (though next time I don’t have the money to underwrite it so can’t)” did actually make me laugh out loud.

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