STUDENT SOCIETIES are up in arms over the University’s decision to remove their right to book out Vanbrugh Dining Hall. This leaves only Goodricke as an option by the middle of next term, which is constantly booked out by the profit-orientated Pole Exercise Society.
The University plans to begin refurbishment of Langwith Dining Hall half way through next term, which has caused space-hungry societies to worry about their future. Some have expressed fears that they will have to shut down, because Goodricke hall is prioritised for Pole Exercise Soc, whose President personally profits from the sessions.
Freesoc, who prompted the Free Vanbrugh campaign in reaction to the University, commented: “Once again the University has put its own convenience ahead of student needs and interests… The University belongs to students. It should be a place for students to learn, to explore their interests, to develop new skills.”
Kenjutso Club President, Paul Nicholls, revealed that his club has suffered numerous setbacks, and due to booking policy problems, lost more than half of their training sessions after Vanbrugh closed. The high profile club went from training 24 people in week 10 of the autumn term in Vanbrugh, to only 12 in Goodricke at present.
Nicholls fears that his club will not survive, as they are failing to keep up with interested members, of which they had 28 at the AU Mart, and fears they may be forced to turn people away due to lack of space. Kenjutso club, which twice hosted Vic Cook Sensei, one of Europes’ highest ranked iaidoka, faces an uncertain future. Nicholls commented: “I bet if they made money from the clubs who want Vanbrugh back then they’d let us have it.”
Numerous other clubs and societies have been affected in similar ways, including Jiu Jistu Club, DanceSoc and BalletSoc. Nat Farren from Dance Soc has expressed concern that they would have trouble finding another venue, stating: “By carrying out moves such as this one the University are making it harder and harder for societies to function on campus.”
James Alexander, the Student Union President, has faced criticisms of ignorance and not supporting societies interests. It was reported that he arrived uninvited to a meeting of societies, and insisted that they could still book out Vanbrugh, which a member of admin later confirmed was not the case.
However, he has since issued a statement explaining that he had not received any complaints from the societies concerned, other than DanceSport, Dance Soc and Pole Exercise Club, but that he is now willing to try and address specific problems. In support of the profit-making society, Alexander said “as far as I know pole exercise are now happy with Goodricke.”
The campaigners are now proposing “that an understanding is reached between management and the wider community whereby it is recognised that Vanbrugh, while primarily functioning as a dining hall, also serves a dual purpose as a community facility, and as such it is in no ones interest to monopolise its use.”
‘With Vanbrugh and Langwith totally unavailable…there won’t be anywhere for clubs to meet.’ Tom Dugmore, Jiu Jitsu Club
‘People won’t be able to train and will leave. With no new intake, the club won’t last.’ Paul Nicholls, Kenjustu Club
‘If we can’t have classes at a time which suits our teacher we can’t run.’ Helen Edge, Ballet Society