Castle’s college office have changed procedures and rules for formals in an attempt to try and cut down on excessive drinking on formal nights.
Members of University College JCR found out about these rules today via a post on the JCR and Freshers’ Facebook groups by Services Manager, Madeleine Reed.
Among these rule changes are the limits on the amount of wine per person, which has gone from a full bottle to half a bottle, and a 15-minute break at 7:45pm.
The frequency of formals has also been halved, so that they are now weekly events. Singing during formals has also been banned.
Reactions among the JCR have largely been negative. One Castle fresher said, “It’s just a shame because the majority of people are perfectly well-behaved at formal. This seems like mass punishment for the actions of a few people.”
Another JCR member said, “It’s not about the students. It’s about University College faculty thinking they’re the king of the castle and wanting to assert some kind of authority.”
“This seems like mass punishment for the actions of a few people.”
As well as these changes, the price of formals has increased by £1.50 for everyone. The new prices are £5.50 for Livers In, £8.50 for Livers Out, and £12.50 for guests.
According to Reed’s post, this is due to a “higher standard of food and service.” In the new setup, “there will be tablecloths, a menu placed on tables, nicer cutlery and glassware and a higher standard of service.”
Despite these improvements, some JCR members still raised concerns about the price increase. One second-year student said, “The solution they have taken, raising the price of formals while claiming they care about poor students, are useless.”
This is not the only controversial price increase University College administration have introduced. Drinks in the Undercroft, Castle’s underground bar, have increased in price, as announced in the college Principal’s New Year update.
“The price of our lowest priced pint of beer for this term will still be comparatively low at £2.20. This will be part of a broader programme of such price increases with the next one likely to be in September, 2020,” he announced.
Castle has in the past taken other controversial measures to reduce and penalise excessive alcohol consumption and bad behaviour.
Cancelling the Christmas formal “did nothing but create a sense of animosity between freshers and the upper years.”
They have previously cancelled Hounds (late parties in the bar) for Halloween and Christmas to curb drinking culture, and once even cancelled Christmas formal for finalists.
According to one fresher, “At the first Christmas formal which is exclusively for freshers, a couple of people were rude and apparently a glass was smashed. In response, they cancelled the next Christmas formal for finalists.
“This did nothing but create a sense of animosity between freshers and the upper years.”
With regards to the new changes, Reed explained in her Facebook post, “We are very much in an experimental phase right now,” leaving open the possibility for some of these rules to change.
Photograph: Durham University