The 2022/23 academic year is upon us, and we are at the start of what will hopefully be the most ‘normal’ year we’ve had in a while. This doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be exactly as they were pre-pandemic, but it does mean that you should be able to expect the same parts of the student experience as before all the disruption.
As Imperial College Union continues to work towards our strategy of Back to Basics, we are determined to make sure that we focus on getting the fundamentals right before we launch into a more ambitious new strategic cycle towards the end of the year.
For our venues, this is truer than ever. Last year was about emerging from lockdowns and operating on a week-by-week basis to stay open – this was particularly detrimental to Reynolds and h-bar, both of which suffered from sporadic opening hours and inconsistent service. This year, we know we need to deliver a provision where you know what to expect, and that it is something good (but to be honest, we know we will not be amazing just yet).
We haven’t got off to the best of starts. We did not provide a good enough service on 5 October for the ICSMSU First Sports Night. There are some operational reasons why – we had issues with our stock and cellars, we had some agency staff not show up – we have already started to address each of these issues, but the bottom line is that we need to do better. It is unfair on the event organisers (ICSMSU) as well as you, the students who use the venue, when we do not hold up our side of the deal to make your events a success, and I’m sorry that happened last week.
As we move forward, the ICU Venues Team will work more closely with your ICSMSU representatives, and the wider ICU team (including elected sabbatical officers) to make sure we do everything we can to avoid such problems and contribute positively to the success of events at Reynolds.
I visited Reynolds on Wednesday evening to see how we can go about providing the necessary consistency and support in a way that is positive, but also ensures we are fulfilling our duty to provide a safe and welcoming environment. Many of you will know that we hope to see a major refurbishment of Reynolds later this year, but there are some changes we need to make now.
Fire Safety / Capacity – we need to reassess how sports nights operate in relation to fire safety, and reassess our capacities. When furniture is added, it takes up space and impedes fire evacuation routes – this was clear on Wednesday. I will work with the Imperial College Fire Safety Team to ensure how we operate is safe and compliant. In the meantime, in order to enable as many people as possible to safely enjoy Reynolds on a Wednesday, the amount of furniture will need to be reduced (no additional tables, no chairs). I’ll work with ICSMSU to try to maintain your ability to socialise in your clubs and societies, but hope you can understand that safety is paramount.
Venue Code of Conduct – I think we have perhaps in the past been inconsistent in how we apply the ‘rules’ in our venues. Earlier in the summer the ICU Management Committee approved a Venues Code of Conduct that applies to all our venues. All users of our venues are expected to abide by it, and breaches will be investigated under our Licencing Disciplinary Investigation Process. It’s common sense for most, but please do take some time to familiarise yourself with it. I’ve also asked Managers in all ICU venues to be more diligent in refusing service to those who are intoxicated, and to formally record this plus any kind of incident that occurs. This doesn’t mean that there will be investigations or people will get in trouble, but it allows us to evidence that we are compliant with our licencing requirements and take steps to look after our customers.
I look forward to working with you, in particularly the ICSMSU Committee, to help make Reynolds the place you deserve, and welcome any thoughts or feedback you might have.
Director of Finance & Resources, Designated Premises Supervisor
With the support of:
Christian Oldfield, President, ICSMSU
Niamh McAuley, Deputy President (Finance & Services), ICU