Oktobersesh, one of the two main night-time activities planned for Freshers 2020, has been cancelled as a halls-only event and changed to an all-University event by LSU.

The event was originally held as a ‘welcome event’ for the Freshers and would have been covered by Freshers’ Hall Subs, but is now a ticketed event, meaning that Freshers will now have to individually buy tickets at £5 per head, like the rest of the student population.

This change came less than 72 hours before the first Freshers move in.

This change has created concern throughout the student community, with several key volunteers from Halls reaching out to Label to share their disappointment at the late change.

[pullquote]“Many halls have had timetables etc printed that now have to be reprinted and there is no offer to reimburse this despite it being the union’s error.” –  Hall Committee Member[/pullquote]One HSF (Hall Students’ Federation) member told Label that the change being made so close to the start of Freshers has caused confusion and the volunteers have received no apology from LSU and “no offer to provide support“.

The Union, however, argues that it was left in a difficult situation as legislation brought in last week now forces all venues to close at 10pm, meaning that sessions that would have previously run up until 1.00am to accommodate the household numbers within individual halls would have had to have been condensed.

LSU said that “Unfortunately, as a direct result of the new rules surrounding the 10pm curfew, Oktobersesh will no longer be possible in its previous format” due to the change in the law.

One Hall Chair, however, said that LSU could have found a better alternative solution, saying that whilst “We understand with 10 pm closure it’s limited, but moving slots an hour earlier would’ve been far better, or even providing halls with limited tickets per night and do it on a first come first serve basis.”

[pullquote]“I have huge admiration for those members of committees … for spending the rest of the night planning, organising, risk assessing, and purchasing resources for 4 new events to cover the short-notice change.” – Hall Committee Member[/pullquote]They added that they feel the Students’ Union has, through no longer making it an exclusive event, “caused massive stress and screwed a large percentage of the student base out of money.”

But the Students’ Union has stressed that “Due to the capacity restrictions within LSU, we won’t be able to accommodate an individual hall across the time period outlined above”, and that it would be impossible to stage such an event.

“As a result, we have chosen to release tickets (staggered across three individual time-slots – 6.00pm, 6.15pm and 6.30pm) for each evening which will be available via the LSU website.”

A representative from the Union also claimed that “much deliberation and discussions with key stakeholders” had gone into developing the new format for the event.

However, one HSF representative told Label that when Hall Chairs had met with LSU Staff, they had voiced significant concerns about the way the change was implemented, telling them that there had been “poor communication, that [hall committees] are being treated like staff as opposed to student volunteers, that the Students’ Union is undermining students” and that there had been “no consideration for the hall committees well-being.”

Another Hall Chair told Label that Oktobersesh was “set to be the ‘biggest night’ of most halls fresher plans” and that allegedly the Union’s reasoning as to why the event could not be moved earlier to accommodate the 10 pm curfew was that “this approach would have resulted in cutting into lecture time“, despite the last event of Oktobersesh ending a day before term starts.

But an LSU spokeswoman argued that it would remain a significant part of the Freshers’ experience, with tickets being released “48-hours before the scheduled start-time to allow sufficient opportunity for Hall Committees to promote the event to their Freshers”, and also allowing halls to ensure “incoming students have time to form social groups within their households.”

The sentiment from the Hall volunteers that spoke to Label – who all wished to remain anonymous due to possible repercussions that could be imposed on them and their halls by the Union -was that “the union seems to be heavily money-orientated” and has been “dumping much more on us [hall chairs] than we were made aware of when elected”, leading some hall chairs to “question stepping down” due to the “sheer workload” that they have been put under.

Oktobersesh will be running from 6.00pm – 9.45pm every evening from Sunday 27th September to Sunday 4th October, with tickets available to all-students.

Benches of 6 will cost £30.00 plus a small booking fee, for an event which claims to “transport you to Munich for Oktobersesh (without the risk of two weeks self-isolation afterwards) for a night of Beer and Bavarian Beats.”

Tickets have now gone on sale for Oktobersesh and can be purchased here.


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