Living in an alcohol free zone
My Education Week Eoin Heffernan Entertainments officer, UCD
Black Monday. This is what we call the first day back after Christmas and the summer holidays. Dark as it sounds, it is usually marked by widespread celebrations across campus.
Returning Erasmus students and those who left Dublin for the holidays hook up with the friends they haven’t seen for ages and events are organised to bring the campus back to life. This year, however, it really does feel as gloomy as the name suggests. The campus is deathly quiet after 5pm, as it has been ever since the UCD bar closed down last summer.
My tenure as Ents officer has been a strange one, with no bar venue in which to host events. As a result, last year was characterised by plenty of alcohol-free events. We had speed-dating in the lecture theatres, a mature-student family day and comedians in the student centre.
They were great events, despite the lack of a bar. The trick is not to put a great big ALCOHOL-FREE banner across the poster, or many students will be put off. When they come, they realise that they can enjoy themselves without a drink. Nonetheless, a large part of my job now consists of fielding the same query – when’s the bar opening again? It’s a conversation I have every day and everywhere I go.
I bet there were a few empty seats in the lecture theatres this morning. Despite the lockdown on campus, there were Black Monday events in D/two, Copper Face Jacks and Copán. That’s how we’ve managed so far this year, by holding UCD events all over town.
Had a meeting with campus management about the reopening of the bar. It closed after years of poor management and deep debt. It was supposed to be jointly run by the students and the college. It didn’t really work out that way. Today I received a commitment that the bar will open again, but this time it will be run by the college.
The good news is that it will be licensed as a venue, so I can start fantasising about gigs before the summer. I have a few dream acts in mind: This Club, Heathers, The Lumineers.
There have been some great acts in the UCD bar in the past – Calvin Harris was a highlight for me.
It would be great to bring it back to its former glory but I think it might be the job of the next Ents officer, at the rate things are going. Health and safety issues have to be resolved before the venue comes to life again.
I’m supposed to work from 10am to 6pm but in reality I spend all day at meetings with students and societies so I only really get to hit the desk in the evenings.
Right now I’m working on steering the social media side of Ents away from Facebook and on to Twitter. Students use Twitter so much and if you can get an event to trend it really gets about.
Getting in gear now for our Irish-language fashion show. All the styling will be Irish too; tweeds, Aran knits and so on. The idea is to get models from all over campus with all different looks, not just the “model” type. The event is in aid of Bodywhys, a charity that provides information and support for people with eating disorders. We’re getting a great response from potential models. Now we just have to find some clothes to put on them.
I do like the challenge of pulling large-scale events together, though. It’s what got me into this in the first place. I’ve taken a sabbatical from my degree course in agriculture, but I’ll be starting back in third year in September.