Pubs and clubs such as Quayside and The Cell promoted themselves just off university land closely watched by security. PR staff for the banned businesses in the city donned animal costumes as they protested the ban, but could do no more than hand out their flyers and promotions to students. The Freshers’ Fayre once again came to the Engine Shed, with free toilet paper, pizza vouchers and key rings for all of Lincoln University’s newest students.
The Freshers’ Fayre’ gives students the opportunity to learn about their local community, sign up for various societies and get some freebies whilst they are there. However, it would appear that some local businesses were being excluded from the mass frenzy that takes place inside the Engine Shed each year. All establishments that sell alcohol, who are rivals to the Engine Shed’s nightclub and Tower Bars, are barred from the event.
This is to the extent that security guards were employed to watch the perimeter of the Engine shed, so that ‘outsiders’ did not ‘cross the line’. Students are going to stray anyway from the confines of the Students Union bars and events, so the off campus establishments should understand that they will be part of the students lifestyle. Yet by creating the divide, the university and the Engine Shed have simply caused more hassle for themselves. It wasn’t only pubs and clubs that were turned away from the Fayre, with local businesses struggling to pay the entrance fee for the event.
In the past, small local businesses have been pushed aside when it comes to organising the Freshers’ Fayre, with the possibility of what’s important being forgotten; the students. Small local businesses can provide a great deal to new students, fulfilling individual needs and personalised orders that large establishments would ignore. The Engine Shed and Students union have defended their actions, with a statement from Dan Windross, the Communications Officer for the University of Lincoln’s Students’ Union.
In the statement made through the University’s press office, he revealed that they “chose not to allow bars, clubs and pubs into this year’s Freshers’ Fayre because we felt their presence would have contradicted some of the important welfare messages we were trying to promote.” He added that the SU is “keen to encourage safe and responsible drinking as a supporter of the Best Bar None awards scheme”. Whether the response will appease the baying crowds not associated with the university, it remains to be seen.
However, it must be recognised that this years Freshers’ Fayre, according to Dan Windross, was one of the most successful; “Feedback we have received so far from students suggests this year’s event is one of the best Freshers’ Fayres we have ever staged. About 4,500 students visited during the course of the day and all 57 stalls were full. We strongly believe that had we allowed bars, clubs and pubs to attend the event, the whole focus of the Freshers’ Fayre would have been altered.”
Nevertheless, not all of those who couldn’t attend the official Fresher’s Fayre reacted with protests and costumes. Whilst some where planning practical jokes and publicity stunts, others, such as Martin Czimmerl of ‘Kodak Express’, were planning something quite different; The Alternative Freshers’ Fayre. The Alternative Freshers’ Fayre took place on Wednesday 17 September, took one week to organise and cost approximately £75 including flyers. Whilst it only had limited success, the organisers are confident that with more planning and more investment, next year’s event will be much improved.
Open for small businesses who can not afford the £500-£700 fee to be involved in the official Freshers’ Fayre, the new alternative gives students the chance to meet the smaller businesses of Lincoln, rather than the large chains which dominate the original fayre. ‘Talking Heads’, a leading Lincolnshire based Hair salon, were involved with the Alternative Fayre, after negotiations broke down over the official fayres entrance fee, despite the Salon providing the University with ‘pro-bono’ services in the past.
However, Manager Keith Reebe was not despondent about the University, even going on to say he would gladly work with the University again. Mr Czimmerl, of Kodak Express and central organiser of the event, was pleased with the student’s reaction to the Alternative Freshers’ Fayre and plans to improve the event next year, with more involvement, investment and interest. He was also keen not to criticise the university or the Engine Shed, however, saying the event had been well organised and that he felt there was room for both fresher’s fayres; the official and the alternative.
By Cal PurdonTweet