Emergency UGM motion to push for decision change on Langwith bar

YUSU’s leadership have submitted an emergency motion to tonight’s Union General Meeting designed to mandate the Union to actively campaign for an October opening of Langwith bar.

The emergency motion comes after approval for the autumn opening of the first Student Union bar in Langwith was withdrawn by the University yesterday, as reported by Nouse.

Keith Lilley, University Director of Facilities Management claimed that “pressure on the Directors of Facilities, Management and Estates to complete a large number of high priority projects this summer,” has delayed the work needed on the bar from occurring over the summer to commencing in October, rescheduling the opening for January 2009.

The motion, which will be voted on at the Union General Meeting (UGM) held tonight, mandates all Union Officers to “actively campaign and lobby the University and Vice-Chancellor to allow the project to run and open by 1st October 2008.” It was proposed by Langwith Chair, Zach Pepper, and is supported both by other YUSU officers and fellow college chairs.

Redevelopment work on the bar was supposed to begin at the end of this term, enabling the opening of the new venue to coincide with the start of Freshers’ week in October.

However in an email to YUSU Services and Finance Officer Matt Burton, Sally Neocosmos, University Registrar and Secretary, stated: “following discussions among a number of senior colleages, the decision was taken recently to hand over the Langwith Bar area to YUSU to run as a commercial venture. This is to confirm that January 2009 remains the date on which the outstanding project planning is being based. We were all aware that your preferred start date was October but we agreed that we could only commit ourselves with confidence to a January 2009 start.”

Burton expressed his disappointment at the decision, saying: “We thought we’d found a window of opportunity in the summer when the Langwith walkway project is being done, and the whole area will have to be shut down with regards to asbestos in the walkway, so they’ll be no people coming in and out,” he said.

“We thought that would be the perfect time to do our project as it’ll be the least disruption to people in that area.”

If passed, the motion proposes for all Union Officers to actively campaign and lobby the University and Vice-Chancellor, Brian Cantor to allow the redevelopment project to run over summer in time for an October opening.

“Hopefully, if we get to speak to the Vice-Chancellor about this, he’ll see that students care about this our project, and that it could be really beneficial to the university estate,” Burton said. “If we have it ready for Open days, I think it could be really good as a showcase to show potential students what we have on offer.”

“We’re very strong advocates of working through diplomacy and democracy, and we’ve gone through the democratic processes of the university, but now it’s come down to us having to get the Vice-Chancellor’s ear to present our case as to why this is so important to us and to the kind of social welcome that Langwith has to offer in October,” he added.

If the motion is made into union policy, the plans for a student-lead protest to further the campaign for the new venue will be given the go-ahead.

The UGM is being held tonight in V/045 from 7.30pm. Online voting on the YUSU website will open soon afterwards.


  1. What does it actually mean for a UGM motion to be submitted?! Is this not just false democracy? Will the officers do anything different because it’s been submitted!? Of all the motions submitted so far this year where is the record of the work done!? An outdated system.

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  2. 12 Jun ’08 at 11:14 pm

    Anonymous Coward

    It gives a mandate, and prevents people complaining that ‘all YUSU ever do is look after themselves/the university/their advertisers when they could be campaigning for lower top up fees/womens rights/starving children in Africa.’

    That said, I agree, I think we should trust our officers to get on with things; but I guess if the motions fails then those who like procedures and bureaucracy will have a point.

    One might also consider that an ’emergency UGM motion’ generates a little bit of publicity itself…

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  3. 13 Jun ’08 at 10:22 am

    AMC President

    Later this term we are going to publish the work we have done as mandated by the Union General Meetings this year.

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  4. Wasn’t there an active campaign going on already?

    October 1st is a very optimistic date for a complete refurb. If there are, as it has been suggested, other contractors in the building at the same time, there may be conflict there, particularly over power supply and working area. Lets not forget langwith has a tonne of asbestos in it – including the JCR and bar ceiling.

    It wouldn’t be a surprise if these complications put the job completion date back to christmas, or even summer next year.

    The university have been criticised for not meeting deadlines with regards building work before,(Think back to vanbrugh laundry problem) and will be conservative in naming a date.

    And that, from a business point of view, is the safer option than committing to a deadline that is more likely than not to be missed. It wouldn’t be helpful to promise freshers’ a bar for october only to find it was a building site because asbestos needed removing…

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  5. 13 Jun ’08 at 12:28 pm

    Matthew Jeynes

    Dr. Z, the point is that the University had already supported the project, and appeared to have committed to doing it over the summer, and have only just withdrawn that promise.

    An asbestos survey has been done. People were scheduled to come in and remove the asbestos before work began. Assessments had shown that the asbestos could be removed, then the bar could have been refurbished, all before term started.

    The fact that there will be other work being done on Langwith walkway is the precise reason why the project should happen then as it means that Langwith, normally busy with conferences and the like, will be completely empty.

    Instead, it appears that the University would rather massively disrupt the lives of every fresher in Langwith, not to mention the English Literature academics residing in the building over the autumn.

    Clearly they weren’t satisfied with the fiasco with A-block this year and thought they could go one step better.

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  6. 13 Jun ’08 at 4:59 pm

    Concerned of Langwith

    I am sick and tired of the University of York.

    This latest development is a disgrace. The University have clearly realised that coffers will be damaged in freshers week if YUSU get their bar. They forget that the students deserve a BAR that is run with them in mind – not profits to fund Brian Cantor’s latest soirée to the Americas.

    I suggest that Nouse runs a full fledged campaign to get the bar through in next week’s edition. Hold the front page! Together we can fight the University’s out-dated, money-hungry approach to everything on campus.

    Porters, bridges, canteens, bars – general inept dealings – this is the straw that has broke the camel’s back.

    Please Nouse – LEAD THE CAMPAIGN!
    Let’s help YUSU and fight, fight, fight.

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  7. A UGM was submitted to try and raise the profile of the issue, and hopefully give the Union a mandate to really turn the screws on the University.

    We have been given no concrete reasons as to why this project can’t happen – it’s a case of WON’T rather than CAN’T.

    I’m all too familiar with the University’s inability to deliver on time – only think back to 50 of Langwith’s students being welcomed to University by being shipped off to the Holiday Inn just last October.

    Yes, there is asbestos in the bar area – we have had surveys conducted to confirm the levels, and the projections made for the project generously take all of this into account.

    It’s time for the University to come up with a real reason why this project can’t happen, or stop clutching at excuses.

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  8. A campaign sounds like a superb idea. I know Langwith would appreciate the support of Nouse in next week’s edition.

    The University have gone too far this time. In Langwith, especially, we have had to put up with so much crap.

    Four years ago our college had a 7-night a week bar, a thriving canteen, 24-hour portering and was an excellent social hub. Today, the University cannot even be bothered to provide us with an access route to the library.

    Academically, York is a fantastic institution in terms of academia but, from what I can see, it is managed appallingly.

    Matt – spot on. The Holiday Inn farce was a joke – but the University are now content to let us have a college building site for a whopping nine weeks.

    GIVE US THE BAR THIS SUMMER. If not, I predict a further slump in the rankings as student satisfaction with University services continues to plummet.

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  9. Nouse tells Uni: Enough is Enough
    – Give us our YUSU Bar –

    Sounds good!

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  10. I dont get why the uni would decide not to support this. ok, so maybe yusu can run a bar better than them, but then they will have to run promotions etc to match yusus bar. it all works out brilliantly for the “student satisfaction” that york does badly in.

    the uni is stupid to let this go.

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  11. Seriously you think a bar is what will improve student satisfaction?

    Heslington Hall aren’t stupid, if the bar isnt in the university’s best interests right now then so be it. They must be doing something right for york to be #11 in the UK and #74 in the world…

    Once again, the amount of asbestos and the large number of contractors makes an october 1st completion date very optimistic, and i’d prefer realism than more dreaming.

    Rather than more students’ whining, lets see a cash flow forecast, a serious business plan and the SUs proposed timetable for completion. UoY will only talk business on business matters. An infinite number of UGM motions won’t ever change their minds on a business issue.

    This really isnt the end of the world. Hes east is coming, there’ll be a venue on there. And the incumbent president didnt even support the idea. Lets try and see things from the university’s point of view. They know what they’re doing. We, the students and SU people, havn’t a clue.

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  12. Actually, Dr. Z, we’ve made sure we do have a clue. We’ve had the relevant consultants in over a period of some months and the detailed business plan that’s been taken to the University details their findings and recommendations, as well as most of the points that have been brought up here. That’s why the project got support in the first place! There are very few senior managers opposed to the project but they are the ones that this campaign needs to be targeted at.

    Not sure which President you’re talking about but the last few have certainly supported a student venue!

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  13. Apologies Sam B, my previous comment was awfully phrased. I remember the cap’n being doubtful about the langwith project at the hustings, not about the hes east project.

    When I say nobody has a clue, clearly most of the 10,000? union members havn’t done any research into the actual costs and pitfalls of the project, and to the university, I just wonder whether a UGM motion (or any form of student campaign) will make any difference. I don’t for a second doubt the ability of the union staff themselves to produce an accurate business plan. As pointed out, this is what won it support. Not a student protest. Facts and money, not emotion will decide the outcome here.

    To comment on a few other posts here, a nouse campaign similarly would have no effect. A protest would have no effect. A bit of perspective here – the university is not made of money and the summer period is a very busy one in terms of contracted work. A 40 year old campus needs a lot of repairs and renovation. This MUST take priority over another bar. This idea that students are hard -done-by and forgotten by the university has to change. Every penny the university spends on development will benefit us. If this means accommodation looks a bit shabby or a little-used bridge doesn’t get replaced, so be it. Students and staff at the university all ultimately want this university to succeed and become an even more respectable institution. Rather than blindly bash every decision the university make, we should try and see them from the widest possible perspective.

    I would like to see a more detailed statement from UoY though, to explain what these projects for the summer are. Students may feel less aggrieved if the university attempt to explain that the other building work is of greater benefit to students than another bar, given we have 5 campus bars already and the hes east venue is officially on it’s way.

    I believe the students should be more mature and realistic about the university administration and their priorities, while the university administration should do a lot more explaining to the students why unpopular measures really will benefit them.

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  14. Dr Z,

    I don’t know who you are, and I apologise if I’m wrong, but from your comments, I can’t believe you’ve much experience in dealing with the university as a student.

    Try getting things done, with bars, events, or anything else on campus, and you’ll soon realize that a) decision making based on ‘facts and money’ would be a godsend; politics plays a big part in university bureaucracy and that b) students are never the priority (i.e closing down bars not because they’re losing money, but because they’re not profitable enough).

    I appreciate some of the points your making, but I think you’re being a bit naive.

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  15. Errr….Mr Z

    Will you be around for Hes East? Probably not.

    Yes, we’re 11th in the rankings. Two years ago we were fifth.

    Academically, we’re great. Facillities are a shambles – and the rankings are now decided on student satisfaction as well as everything else.

    A YUSU bar, open 7 nights, a week with good food, good drinks and so on WILL improve student satisfaction. We will then move back up the rankings and, therefore, the YUSU Bar is in the interests of the Uni.


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