In one of his first steps as the newly elected Democracy and Services Officer, Dan Walker has stated that the club landscape here at York is to take a “pretty dramatic turn”. By this, Walker means that Thursday night Gallery will now be replaced with ‘Tokyo’, a brand new club which seems to simply be a ‘dramatically’ refurbished Tru.
It’s not necessarily a bad idea. A bit of revamping is perhaps exactly what York’s cumbersome, repetitive nightlife needs. Walker has stated in his blog that the official clubs “represent what should be the best quality and value for money in York” and that the “line-up intends to provide a range of venues and music which York has, in the past, lacked”. He displays the sort of optimistic, progressive attitude that goes some way to acknowledging problems with student satisfaction, and recognises student demand for value for money in York. However, by labelling the changes a ‘timetable’, and disregarding a very prominent element of the average student’s social life by not even mentioning The Gallery’s existence, Walker has in one swift step allowed the complete ‘landscape’, as he sees it, of York’s nightlife to alter.
YUSU is supposed to be representative of the majority of students at the University, but since when did they conduct a survey to see how many students frequent Gallery on a Thursday (alas, according to the timetable, not even a Sunday) night? Since when did YUSU actually research where York students go out at night and which venues they want their Union to promote?
“But we don’t always listen to YUSU, we have our own minds!” I will undoubtedly hear you say. Which, for many of us who have been at the University for a year or two now, may well be true. But what exactly was it that we replied upon as freshers? How was our freshers’ week organised? As I remember it, it was almost unwaveringly around YUSU recommendations and advice: around the identical, mass-produced information that YUSU provided, as no other organisation on campus has the same comprehensive access to students. And the routine barely changes. You know the old cliché about the first person you meet at uni becoming one of your best friends? Well, there’s actually a whole lotta truth in it.
This isn’t about lamenting the loss of Gallery – although I think there is room for a bit of that here. I can appreciate that York’s already uninspiring nightlife may need a bit of sexing-up. But this is about the freedom for freshers to choose, and for current students to have the ability to communicate their opinion. Some people see Gallery as a pretty sub-standard night out, especially in comparison to YUSU’s successful affiliation with Salvation. But where’s The Willow in YUSU’s timetable? The last time I checked, it is the only veritable York ‘institution’ out of the handful of venues we have at the moment, and the mismatch he mentions in his blog.
Of course it is standard procedure for student unions to sponsor and recommend student nights – it is more financially and socially advantageous for us. It is not necessarily beneficial for freshers, however, to be told a select amount of information about what to do in their new city, especially when automatic trust is placed in the seeming altruism of our student union. We’re lucky: York has a student media that can ensure that freshers have access to a variety of information and can make our student union accountable. Not all students in the country have the same luxury.
I just hope that Toyko is one dramatically great night out now, and we wont be in need of Gallery lamentation… not that the freshers will ever know…