President’s Blog: Turning a corner – What a COVID Freshers taught me and LSU

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In my first President’s blog, I wrote about the importance of maintaining a sense of community at Loughborough, despite the circumstances.

This is something that LSU has a big role in facilitating, now more than ever. The range of activities we provide, together with our reputation for being one of the largest entertainment venues in the East Midlands, meant we entered Freshers with a degree of trepidation. Gone were the days when we could measure success on the number of people we could get in our venue each night. Instead, we had to adapt our commercial model to ensure we could run events, albeit adhering to government guidelines at all times. As a result, our output was something that I certainly have been crying out for years to see: A Freshers that didn’t revolve around drinking. Yes, drinking may be present, but we should be running events that are not dependent on an individual to be drinking for them to enjoy it. We should offer a mix of day and night events, all of which can be attended (and more importantly enjoyed) by a student, irrespective of whether they drink or not.

Readers for whom this is not their first year may be familiar with the concept of a ‘changing demographic’ at Loughborough: the notion that over the years as the University has climbed up the domestic league tables, Loughborough has attracted a new type of student: one who is more studious and increasingly chooses to spend time engaging in extra-curricular activities that are not consecutive nights out. Instead, when they do go out, they are attracted more towards social drinking, be it at a pub, restaurant or bar.

As a former member of LSU student staff myself, I witnessed this first hand with the time in which most students left the Union on a night out getting earlier and earlier as years went by. For years LSU has adopted the same blueprint of nights out featuring heavily in its nighttime entertainment package. Now, faced with an academic year in which our nightclubs may never open, we have no choice but to change direction.

The success of ‘The Socially Distanced Social Club’ on Shirley Pearce Square has unquestionably paved the way for a new avenue of commercial activity. One in which experience is at the fore. For me, what was perhaps the most refreshing thing to see during Freshers was the diversity of student who attended our night-time events. The Executive attended every night run at the marquee, and it was not uncommon for us to walk past a table of first-year undergraduates sat next to a table of postgraduate researchers. It’s clear our students want more of this, and we’re excited to provide it.

The success of ‘The Socially Distanced Social Club’ on Shirley Pearce Square has unquestionable paved the way for a new avenue of commercial activity – Photo by Loughborough Students’ Union

We must continue to ride this wave of change and ensure we cater for every student at Loughborough, not just those who thrive off a night out (don’t worry, we won’t forget about you!) This is an exciting proposition for LSU and one that will bring new avenues of opportunity for the organisation. I am excited, and I hope you are too.

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About Author

Matt Youngs is the 2020-21 LSU President. In his fifth year at Loughborough, he was formerly the Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer and before that studied Geography.

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