An unofficial event “Undergrounders”, has been created in place of the cancelled “Founders”, in a bid to continue the 14-year tradition of Founders and revive college spirit.

On 15 May, Bowland College announced they will be withdrawing from Founders, the annual intercollegiate tournament with Lonsdale College. Bowland and Lonsdale were the original founding colleges of the university (hence the title) and the competition was created almost 15 years ago to preserve the famous rivalry between the colleges, after Lonsdale was relocated from next to Bowland to South-West Campus.

According to a Facebook post made on the Bowland College Facebook page, the College stated that: “we would not be willing to put our undergraduate students at risk of poor behaviour within an unhealthy environment. Bowland college holds values of diversity, respect and understanding at its core; values that we each take in our stride every day. At the heart of this dispute lay the uncomfortable realisation that both colleges may have sacrificed these values for the sake of Founders”.

Last year saw an introduction of Founders by-laws to curtail “harassment, bullying, intimidation and a culture of binge drinking”.

Moves away from a perceived “lad culture” has been a major theme throughout the last few years at the University, with a clampdown on hazing ceremonies from sporting societies, and the Student’s Union recently receiving an National Union of Students accreditation for the promotion of responsible drinking.

However the dominant issue was the ineligibility of Postgraduates to participate in Founders. The Founders by-law states:

“Participation in Founders’ is restricted to members of Bowland and Lonsdale Colleges. No individual may represent more than one College in any single academic year. Anyone taking part in Founders can only represent the College that they are a registered member of at that time. A student registered as a Postgraduate cannot take part in Founders. The only exception to this is if a Postgraduate student holds an SCR position for a participating college; i.e. Assistant Dean”.

According to Bowland’s Facebook post, Lonsdale have rejected this by-law, which has led to the former’s withdrawal from the competition. Bowland College has accused Lonsdale of continually disregarding the Postgraduate by-law but also rules surrounding “hooliganistic behaviour and disrespect towards our SCR and JCR but most importantly our college members”.

A member of Lonsdale College JCR posted in a Lonsdale Facebook group: “what is clear is that as colleges we have different views on the direction the event should take…”

“This will only continue to create tensions when organising Founders in coming years, and will continuously lead to a ‘Bowland’s way or no way’ mentality”.

Student reaction to the news of the cancellation was overwhelmingly negative. Posts on popular social media forum Overheard at Lancaster jokingly described the university as “Lancancelled” in reaction to the news, coming as it did shortly following the cancellation of Graduate Ball and the ditching of the Wetlands section of the Spine Redevelopment Project.

An unofficial event has been made on Facebook, titled: “Undergrounders 2018 – 15th Anniversary”. According to a Lonsdale College post, both Colleges and their Sports Captains are working together to host an event that supports “Founders’ Spirit”, building on the college rivalry that the Founders series has been a part of for the past 14 years. It will take place between 22-24 June, the same dates as the original Founders event.

So far up to one thousand students have registered their potential attendance at the event, suggesting a substantial crowd could be attracted to the unofficial competition.

The event is said to “welcome ALL Lonsdale and Bowland alumni with open arms”.

Lonsdale claims that: “[they] will not let internal JCR issues ruin our Founders weekend! We can finance the event on behalf of both colleges, we will keep the current timetable and we will ensure safety is prioritised”.

The College told SCAN that: “following the responses to the withdrawal, on the same day, Lonsdale JCR met with Bowland captains and undergraduates after an interest was shown to continue with the fixtures regardless. Sponsors were still keen to be involved, one an alumni outraged at the withdrawal. With this support (and a slight adjustment to the budget) Lonsdale JCR, alongside Bowland captains and undergraduates began work on the alternate event.

After a cheeky rebrand, Undergrounders: The not-so-secret 15th Anniversary of Founders was born.

It’s impossible to end the 15 year long rivalry now! Whether it’s called Undergrounders or Founders, the college passion will always be there. Bring on the Undergrounders weekend!”