Ah, Freshers’ Week. The tears, the laughter, the new friends, the baked potatoes. Fast-forward a year, and Freshers’ Week is entirely different; it’s catching up with friends and flatmates that you haven’t seen all summer, and it’s feeling comfortable enough that you are able to fully relax and enjoy yourself. In second year, you get drunker, rowdier, and in my opinion, there is a hell of a lot more to enjoy.
So this is why I felt guilty of eventually almost agreeing with my friend who suggested that this year, we book a holiday for Freshers’ Week. As she said, “it seems a shame to miss it but we won’t be allowed in anywhere anyway,” which to an extent is true. Freshers’ timetables released a few weeks ago follow the same format as previous years – largely orientated around the college bars, with the exception of the ‘Big Night Out’ bar crawl around town. But limited capacities within the bars mean that it is near enough impossible for older students to attend these events, and even in the case of nights organised in Lancaster town, wristbands grant exclusive entry for freshers and their kitchen reps only.
Now of course it’s called Freshers’ Week for a reason – it is for the freshers and they are the priority. But there are so few alternatives for older years for whom Freshers’ Week is still, if not more so, a highlight of the year. There are barely any events which can be freely attended by all of those who want to, and as Lancaster is a small town anyway, there are not many other options.
There is no reason why cross-campus events, including outdoor events like Campus Festival, cannot be integrated into the Freshers’ Week timetables to give a chance to mingle with other students and create a bigger, better atmosphere. Lancaster is not a big university anyway, and I remember as a fresher finding it somewhat odd that we were pretty much bound to spend the week with the same coupIe of hundred first-years. A mixture of bonding with your fellow college freshers and with students from the university as a whole would enable a greater sense of a wider university spirit – and in my opinion, a better time.
I’m not for one minute saying that the first years need the older years to have a good time – we want to join in the freshers’ activities because we want to run around campus in genital-covered white t-shirts and Hitler moustaches too! If anything, we need an excuse to celebrate/commiserate our last official chance to drink ourselves under the table with minimum guilt more than ever, as we embark on our last years of studenthood. And at the end of the day, ‘settled in’ as I might be, I am not quite ready shelve my collection of fancy dress costumes and marker pens just yet.