Disability and Neurodiversity Society initially stalled by stairs on Freshers’ Fair

Carl Smith Valdez reports on the issues surrounding this year's Freshers' Fair.

Carl Smith Valdez
9th October 2019
Image: NUTV
The Disability and Neurodiversity Society (DANSoc) was initially placed next to the stairs at The Venue during Freshers’ Fair on 23rd September.

Fresher’s Fair is an event done annually for first year students which showcases over 160 societies available in Newcastle University. It provides the opportunities for Freshers to understand what societies and clubs offer and how to get involved throughout the academic year.

Georgia Corbett, the President of DANSoc and Disability Officer considers their table allocation as “not deliberate but still pretty thoughtless.”

“I didn't really understand why anyone would put the disability society on an inaccessible stage. I fully believe it was an oversight and due to it being a busy time, but it wasn’t sorted until the day and I didn't get any apology for it which was frustrating.”

“This year the fair was so tightly packed that it had the by-product of being very inaccessible for committees and students.”

“I contacted the union over the summer as disability officer with the intention of getting earplugs provided to students, ensuring DANsoc would be in an accessible location and generally to give my input regarding accessibility and I didn't hear back regarding this particular matter so it was unfortunate.”

Discussing the arising issues of the Freshers’ Fair, Corbett adds: “This year the fair was so tightly packed that it had the by-product of being very inaccessible for committees and students.”

The concerns over space has been echoed by several societies. Maisie Baker, the President of Newcastle University Rounders Society said: “It was a very stressful environment; it was too hot and there was not enough space to stand at our stall.”

“Never mind space for people coming around the fair to come to the table and see what each society was about. I could understand a lot of freshers not engaging with many societies because the environment was just too overwhelming.”

In the previous years, the Freshers’ Fair took place by the Newcastle University Sports Centre. However, this year the venue is under reconstruction and it would not be ready in time.

Eleanor Killner, the Student Union’s Activity Officer explains that the placement of DANSoc by the stairs was only on the early stages of planning. She said: “Before the numbers were finalised in the morning, they have been switched around. But we have moved them before the fair even started towards the fire escape.”

Killner assures that she did her best to accommodate everyone’s needs. She commented: “The other external venues we looked for were either unavailable or would have cost about £7,000 which would have disadvantaged societies and clubs for the rest of the year. The other alternative was not having a Fresher’s Fair.”

"I understand that there were issues throughout but we did our best in the circumstances."

“We are looking to get the dates in advance for our next Activities and Athletic Union Officers to make sure the Freshers’ Fair is in the Sports Hall next year instead of The Venue. I understand that there were issues throughout but we did our best in the circumstances."

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