James College opinions “sidelined” by University in McQ’s demolition plans

Designs for the proposed relocation of McQ’s bar show its reduced capacity within the Roger Kirk Center. Image: University of York

Designs for the proposed relocation of McQ’s bar show its reduced capacity within the Roger Kirk Center. Image: University of York

The likely demolition and relocation of McQ’s has resulted in the James Junior Common Room Committee (JCRC) voicing discontent with new proposals for their College bar.

The University have designed McQ’s to be relocated within the current Roger Kirk Center with its own indoor capacity of just 56, half of its current allocation. The rest of the Roger Kirk Center has a total capacity of 1000.

The JCRC are not opposed to the move, yet feel student needs have not been taken into account.

They were only notified of the plans two weeks ago and had previously been unable to give their input into the plans. James College Chair, Emma Bartlett, met with Commercial Services last week, “currently to no avail”.

The plans mean that McQ’s would not have its own entrance, other than an outside fire escape. Visitors would have to walk through the dining area, which the JCRC feel “would detract from the feeling of a College bar”. The bar would have no walls, as part of an open-plan layout looking onto the rest of the Roger Kirk Center.

Director of Commercial Services, Jon Greenwood, has stated: “The original plan was to provide more space at Langwith near to the courtyard but YUSU agreed that this area was not suitable so it made sense to give them more space near their existing offices.”

Grace Teh, James College Services Vice-Chair feels “the JCRC and the college have been sidelined”. As a result, they have set up a Facebook group for students to voice opinions on the plans. With enough support, the JCRC hope their objections will be acted upon by the University. The page has had over 270 ‘likes’ so far.

“We are extremely concerned about the functionality of the new bar in the Roger Kirk, which is clearly catered for conferences rather than students. We need to remember that York is first and foremost a University dedicated to student experience as a whole – not a conference venue,” continued the Services Vice-Chair.

Students have likened the plans to the proposed closure of B-Henry’s in 2009. However, plans show that demolition and relocation are extremely likely.

The University have commented that: “No decision has been taken on the future of McQ’s and we are in continued discussion with YUSU and the James College JCRC about possible developments.”

Others students have highlighted the lack of a College bar on the Heslington East campus. “Don’t turn it into another soulless version of Derwent bar. Keep it as it is, and give it back to Goodricke.” said Tom Meares.

“The plans are clearly catered for conferences rather than students“
Grace Teh
James College Services Vice-Chair

As the Roger Kirk operates as a dining hall until 19.00, this may restrict time slots available to hold events such as bar quizzes. Bartlett believes that student input is “integral to the success of the new bar.”

McQ’s would not have its own sound system, nor darts board due a lack of solid walls. Sound would have to be projected throughout the entire Roger Kirk.

The JCRC hope to convince the University to provide a Public Address system within the space.

YUSU President, Tim Ngwena, has stated that YUSU “has a duty to defend the interests of all students…we have been in communication with the Chair [Bartlett], to help her JCRC develop some of the ideas proposed online.

“I also voiced my own concerns regarding the design proposals alongside the Chair in the same meeting where the proposals were unveiled. This must not be viewed as a conflict between the College and YUSU. We have the same interests at heart.”

Teh is hopeful that “if our proposals are given a fair hearing and the most important features are considered or applied where possible, we see no reason for the change to be unpopular.”

Ngwena continued: “The proposals form part of a larger plan to redevelop the southern part of campus. It is however important that in doing that, we don’t disturb the communities that actively engage with that space. It’s apparent that not all parties involved in this project are in synergy and moving forward, this will need to be addressed.”

Tessa Russell’s post on the Facebook group summarised the sentiment of many James College students: “The best thing about McQs is the ‘pub atmosphere’. Take that away and you have another empty copy of Derwent.”


  1. Please “like” the facebook page to have your say on the future of McQs!


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