B Henry’s bar to remain open

Alcuin College bar, B Henry’s, is to remain open, following pressure from YUSU and the Alcuin JCRC.
The Student Services Committee have chosen to reconvene the Bar Strategy Group on November 20 until February 26 2009. The same strategy group investigated Langwith and Halifax’s bars prior to their closure last year.

Jane Grenville, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students, is to chair the Group, and sees the first agenda item as the reviewing of B Henry’s closure proposals. Grenville told Tony Ward, the Alcuin Provost, and Erik O’Connor, Alcuin JCRC chair, that “your points were aired well by your supporters.”
O’Connor sees the decision made by the Students Service Committee as “an acknowledgement that the issue is indeed wider than the commercial aspect… Tony Ward’s commercial acumen (evident in his financial analysis) has been a true asset to our campaign”. O’ Connor attributed the outcome “to the commitment and pro-activity of all JCR and Union Officers working to make Heslington Hall aware of the students’ opinions.”

The decision follows YUSU and Alcuin’s ‘Save B Henry’s’ campaign, after the bar became the latest college social space to face closure. This followed last year’s decision to cease trading in JJ’s, the Halifax college bar. O’Connor described himself as “incredibly pleased that our efforts paid off” and said that he is “encouraged by the reinstatement of the Bars Strategy Group.” Since the campaign began, trading has improved.

Rory Shanks, YUSU Societies and Communications Officer, corroborated O’Connor’s view: “The Bar Strategy Group now have a clear mandate to work towards,” he said.

Shanks admitted that the Student Services Committee never gave Langwith and Halifax bars this opportunity, but confessed himself pleased that the situation is being given “the time it deserves.” Both Shanks and O’Connor refuted claims that Student Services Committee are merely delaying an inevitable closure: “The reversal of Commercial Services’ decision is the relevant precedent being set,” said the Alcuin Chair.

YUSU President Tom Scott took a more cautious stance: “I’m a realist, and I think we all know that the bar isn’t out of the woods yet.” He acknowledged that YUSU had been in a similar situation before, and was ultimately unsuccessful; he admitted, however, that the recent campaign has achieved “genuine success” and that a “proper consultation and review of the figures” has been established.

As chair of the Bar Strategy Group, Grenville emphasised that “the responsibility for the final decision is in my hands.” However, Shanks sees Grenville’s role as chair as a positive approach, perceiving it as “a good sign”. He says, “hopefully she can make sure B Henry’s is given the time it deserves. And we’ve all decided that it deserves that time”. The Bars Strategy Group will soon be chaired by Tony Ward, and O’Connor sees the involvement of the Provost as encouraging.

Students in Alcuin are delighted at the outcome. “We deserve a bar and the decision is right” said one first-year.

Whatever February’s outcome, the campaign’s progress is seen as an optimistic step. “The JCRC, and everyone involved in the campaign, has done a fantastic job,” added Scott.