Did the Students’ Union have too many sponsors at the Fresher’s Fairs?

The freshers fair takes place in the SU each year (Source: Cardiff Students Union facebook page)

By Emma Videan

As the new academic year rolls in, so does the Societies Fair with crowds of freshers all eager to sign up to meet new friends with similar interests. Ranging from a ‘Harry Potter Society’ to a ‘Poker Society’ and over 200 different societies to choose from, it may be considered impossible to not find something that you will enjoy.

With so many stalls this year, the fair was pushed into Y Stiwdio, creating a great opportunity for corporate sponsors to draw fresh minded students into their potentially expensive deals. But who could really turn down free Dominos pizza in return for a simple email address? This is where these brands capture the budgeting student and then bombard them with texts and emails about their fantastic ‘student offers’. The temptation of ‘Two for Tuesdays’ may just cause the tired student to spend much more money than they had budgeted. Despite this, these offers do save money and as a result of the advertising many students would be likely to take up these offers so maybe it wasn’t all in vain.

Dominos was not the sole sponsor at the fair, as a parade of nightclub and restaurant promoters blocked the road leading up to the Student’s Union, thrusting dozens of offers and merchandise into the unwilling hands of students. While this may have left them with a complimentary shot at Live Lounge or a free entry to Glam, is this really what the students should be focused on? Surely the point of the Societies Fair should be only to promote the societies that older students have put a lot of time and effort into improving and running. The efforts may be considered to have had less of an impact, as a large amount of students would rather queue for free food than speak to a representative from a society.

On the other hand, some of the societies may have welcomed the large corporate brands to the fair. This might be because when students recognise a logo, they’re probably more likely to pop in, even if they didn’t intend on signing up to anything. As a result of this, the societies fair then sees more footfall and therefore more potential members. Not only this but the extra buzz surrounding the sponsors and available freebees transformed what might have been considered a small, quiet place to look around and peacefully sign up to a club of choice, into a busy and vibrant two days for the Student’s Union. The offers from companies and the range of societies available certainly generated a large presence on Park Place and made it a highly popular event.

Overall, it would be unfair to rule the presence of large corporations in the societies fair as a wholly negative feature for students. While in some ways the presence of free food may have distracted from the overall aim of the event, in other ways the promotions would have led to a larger attendance, therefore creating a more successful, energetic affair for the Student’s Union.

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