From the fifteenth to the nineteenth of May, YUSU ran The Retreat @ Alcuin. Taking place from 9pm to 3am, the service providing free toast, fruit and beverages. Part of the Keep Your Cool initiative, the intention was for a place to take breaks away from the stressful environment of the library during exams, providing healthier nutritional alternatives to the campus vending machines.
Despite their wish to initially keep it going for two weeks provisionally, it was cancelled after only one. Dom Smithies, YUSU’s Community and Well-being Officer, cited its financial losses as a reason on a Facebook post, calling it “surprisingly costly” to provide the food with over £200 being spent on bread.
Smithies was keen to look on the bright side, however, stating that it was “a blast” and thanking everyone for their positive responses. He also wrote that “there is clearly not only a need, but quite a large demand here”, for overnight provisions across exam season, estimating 500 users of The Kitchen over the week – 400 of them unique visitors and not repeat guests.
Smithies is now lobbying YUSU, along with Commercial Services, to repeat the scheme next year. On Facebook, he told students that he “hope[s] you all engage actively with next year’s Officers to see if they can do something for the entire duration of the assessment period”, offering ideas on how to increase funding in the future.
Smithies ended his post by encouraging us to “demand more”, using YUSU as a mouthpiece, as “that’s what [they]’re here for.”
YUSU President Millie Beach commented: “We’re always eager to do anything we can to support students during stressful exam seasons so it’s something next year’s officers will consider. Having said that, projects like these are expensive to run, so we are currently exploring alternative funding models.”
A University spokesperson added that the University “would be keen to speak to YUSU officers if we can assist with similar plans for next year.”