With the Student Club still on an uncertain hiatus, Dominic Gallagher looks at the effects the bar closures are having on both students and societiesThe UCD student bars used to be a place of great social interaction, for the odd pint (or two) between lectures, a good dinner and a place to meet new people. Those who knew and loved the bar note that the UCD experience has taken a huge hit since its closure, taking a number of societies down with it. UCD, while huge, concrete and isolated before, has descended into a living graveyard.

Kevin Barry Cumann Chairperson Greg Moroney commented that “huge numbers of first years that joined UCD Ógra Fianna Fáil this year have commented on the lack of a place to congregate and socialise.” The International Students Society Events Officer Stephen also expressed his concern on the lack of a student bar on campus. “The younger years have had a big loss, it has affected their college experience… Colleges around the country have a bar, however we have one less string in the bow for UCD students.”

It is clear that the UCD Experience has been forever damaged for UCD’s 2012/13 first years and other students, who have missed out on a whole side of UCD life. Students’ Union Entertainments Officer Eoin Heffernan commented saying: “It is pretty disappointing the bar is gone; it was the number one spot in UCD whether it was for food, a pint or a game of pool. For everyone in first year this year, there is no hub to meet new people, make new friends and get settled into UCD… Student Advisors have commented on the student experience being affected.”

More than just a social venue for casual drinks among friends, the closure of the bar has caused many headaches for UCD’s societies. Moroney indicated that “As we have such a big number of members, the bar was very useful and accessible for us to hold events, and socialise after our meetings… It is very difficult for us now to find a place to socialise after meetings. As the biggest political society on campus, the bar was an integral part of our bonding and welcoming new members into Fianna Fáil… Without the bar, we have to trek all the way down to O’Shea’s in Clonskeagh. We want to socialise on campus, and keep the society visible and present on campus. However without the bar, this proves more difficult, though manageable.”

UCD Young Fine Gael Chair Lorcan Nyhan found similar problems when it came to getting first years involved, commenting: “It was tougher than last year with the new members, it took a lot more work.” The lack of a Student Bar has “affected our society because, last year after every meeting we went for pints. [Now] we are very isolated and we have nowhere to bring new members; there has been nothing in fairness.”

Though Nyhan highlights the difficulties the society has had this year, he sympathised with first years and the Students’ Union. “Incoming first years have been hugely affected… It’s tougher to meet new people and make friends. [Eoin Heffernan] is in a straitjacket; UCD and the college authorities have done nothing, they haven’t been cooperative with the Students’ Union which is unfair.”

Stokes highlighted the effect the lack of a bar has had on International Students and the society. “We can’t offer as many events and activities on campus; the bar was great for integrating with Irish Students. A lot of international students are surprised there isn’t a bar.”

While the SU seem to be working tirelessly for students, they appear to be stuck. Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin isn’t sure why this is the case but muses that perhaps it’s down to the Union having “less staff and money”. TradSoc Auditor Diarmuid Hickey however believes that UCD don’t have time for the Students’ Union as they know that “there is a perception that the SU is a lame duck, and corrupt.”

Breslin explained the Students’ Union’s achievements are being lost in the furore over the Bar. She commented: “The SU is trying to recover, however we haven’t delivered a bar or a venue this year, and no doubt that will overshadow the Union’s work.” It’s perhaps fair to say that Heffernan was dealt a poisoned deck of cards this year, and “it has been hard to get that buzz on campus.”

While the Students’ Union remain in constant negotiation with the University over the matter, students are less concerned with the politics of it all, and more concerned with having the bar back open on campus. While this remains one of the Union’s main priorities at the moment, Breslin believes that it is achievable, and is hopeful that students will see the bar open its doors this semester. She concluded: “I believe we will be in the bar by the end of the year, and that will show a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”