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March 4, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Love in Poly-Cotton Blend

Students Get Sticky Between the Sheets

It’s not yet the Ides of March, but Thursday night saw hundreds of students Rome-ing the Hunter Lounge for the annual Neon Toga Party O-Week event.

As per 2012, tickets for the sole O-Week event held before the start of classes this week were in hot demand, with the event selling out days in advance of the event.

Despite the Hunter Lounge having a legal capacity of 1,000 patrons, 1,300 tickets were sold by the University meaning not all ticket-holders were legally allowed in the advertised venue at the same time.

The University justified the decision to oversell the event by putting on auxiliary attractions to attract students away from the main event at the Hunter Lounge. Among the sideshows were a sausage sizzle, a water and juice bar, and a bucking bronco on level one of the Student Union Building.

“The University has a comprehensive plan in place to manage the event, and will work with the licence holder of the Hunter Lounge to ensure numbers in the Hunter Lounge do not exceed 1,000 at any one time,” said Rainsforth Dix, Associate Director of Campus Services, told Salient.

Despite these assurances to Salient, the entrances to the Hunter Lounge were not managed by security, with patrons freely moving in and out of the venue uncounted.

The SUB has a legal capacity of 1,800, and the 1,300 tickets released suggest the University had reservations about the hazards posed by overselling the main attraction. The disparity prompted questions from disappointed first-years who missed out on tickets for the event. “It’s meant to be O-Week for everyone and we’re just gonna be stuck at the hostel with no tickets,” one told Salient.

VUWSA President Rory McCourt did not support the decision to sell more tickets than the Hunter Lounge had capacity for. “I’m extremely disappointed with the University, there was no consultation with students or the Association,” he said. Hunger Lounge owner Tim Ward told Salient he was aware the University wanted to sell over capacity.

McCourt questioned the decision making around the hiring of a bucking bronco, something University management thought would be “funky for the kids”.

The bucking bronco was placed in the basement of the SUB and was enjoyed by many toga-clad party-goers.

One cowboy Salient spoke to said the bucking bronco was the highlight of his night.

“It was awesome to ride and did you see all those girls watching me?”

Less apparent was the University’s breathalyzer competition, at the entrance of the Toga Party. Students volunteered to be breath tested and those who were “fairly sober” went into the draw to win an iPad.

Salient saw the competition backfire with many first-years taking the opportunity to challenge their friends to see who was more drunk.

“Bro, I was way over the limit, cool aye—must have been that absinth.”

McCourt said the University used student money—procured through the student services levy—for the competition, without consultation.

“The whole idea is invasive. We also question the ethics of encouraging people to give out information like that,” said McCourt.

“It has basically been an unfair and un-consultative event.”

The competition was not advertised directly to students, rather, Campus Coaches were asked to tell their groups. Many students Salient spoke to were unaware of the event, and by 9pm, it appeared the competition had been shut down.

Students have already expressed their disappointment to the O-Week lineup—limited to the Toga Party, a Comedy spectacular and a Hypnotist night—covered in Salient last week. The only musical Orientation act will be Home Brew and Tommy Ill, who will perform this week.

McCourt was confident Macklemore would have performed at O-Week had VUW come to the table earlier. The Macklemore contract was signed by the University in November which was “too late”.

“What happens is you have a group of University employees—staff members—some in their 60s, making decisions about what kind of events happen at Victoria,” he said.

“That isn’t a process that is good for students, or meets the changing demands of the Orientation industry.”

Most students at the Toga Party were pink in the cheeks and happy in their bed sheets, regardless of the event’s shortcomings.

”It’s going off bro, big time, holy shit,” one student told Salient.

However, another Toga-partier Salient spoke to was not let into the event because he had not received his confirmation of study, thus could not get a Student ID and was refused entry.

He was heard telling his friends he was “going home to get fucked.”

Some returning students are bitter about the O-Week dilemma, with a third year student Salient spoke to describing O-Week as a first-year fest.“There’s just first-years walking around in Togas,” she said.

“It’s like, we’ve been there, done that. What about something for us?”

In an effort to rival Otago’s O-Week, a couch was tipped over and set alight on The Terrace outside hall of residence Victoria House just before 11.30pm, as most students were leaving the Toga Party.
According to onlookers spoken to by Salient, the incident was not related to the Toga Party.

 

Phillipa Webb & Chris McIntyre

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