By Charlotte King
Freshers’ Week is arguably an integral part of one’s university experience. It is a time for new students to explore Cardiff University and the city of Cardiff and for returning students to settle back into Cardiff and relax before the start of the academic year. Jackie Yip, Students’ Union President, sees the week as an opportunity to “[help] students set off on the right track”.
This year, Cardiff University Students’ Union is celebrating another successful Freshers’ Week. According to a Students’ Union spokesperson, these are some of the highlights:
The Students’ Union saw a “record-breaking” number of attendees to its main club nights, Yolo and Juice, with “many, many” VKs sold to students. The Taf was extremely popular amongst students too, reaching capacity on four nights out of five.
Freshers’ club nights are not the only important part of Freshers’ week for new and returning students. The beginning of the academic year tends to be when the majority of students sign up to new societies and begin to get involved in the aspects of university life which are not centred around academia.
During Freshers’ Week, the Students’ Union hosted the Sports Fair on September 23 and two consecutive days of Societies and Volunteering Fairs on September 24 and 25, providing students with an opportunity to sign up to new and already existing societies.
Gair Rhydd contacted Orla Tarn, Vice President Societies, to find out how well she thought the Fairs went. Tarn said, “I’m extremely proud of how so many of our Societies worked so hard to engage with new students visiting the Fairs!”
According to the VP, 10,500 students attended the Societies and Volunteering Fairs on September 24 and 25, with over 17,000 visitors attending all three Fairs, says the Students’ Union. Moreover, Tarn told Gair Rhydd that around 2,500 students have since registered with the Guild of Societies and there was a wealth of New Society Applications across the summer, increasing the variety of societies available for Cardiff University students to join.
Gair Rhydd spoke to Rory Wade, the founder of Israel-Palestine Dialogue Society which is one of the many new societies which formed during the summer months. When asked about how he thought Freshers’ Week went for the society, he said, “Freshers’ Week was an exciting one! We had around 60 sign-ups, but I do think we were unfortunate the Fair was on a rainy day”.
Wade stated that whilst he feels his new society may only be attractive to students interest in politics, their stall received a lot of “looks of curiosity” and he was pleased his society was able to represent both Israeli and Palestinian students; they even managed to connect Palestinian students with one another, he expressed proudly. “All in all, it was very exciting.”
Furthermore, a Students’ Union spokesperson said that the Union saw a “substantial increase” in attendees for Give-It-a-Go events, with almost 2,000 tickets being purchased. This amounts to a 42% increase on the tickets bought in 2018 Freshers’ Week.
Tarn continued, saying, “I was inspired by the enthusiasm I saw across the Fair days – all those on stalls were so full of energy and passionate about their Societies! I’m so excited to work with this generation of Committee Members this year to make their Societies the best they can be for their members – there’s no limit to what they can achieve!”
Reflecting on the week, Jackie Yip said, “I’m delighted with how well Freshers’ Week went for the Students’ Union…I particularly want to thank the hundreds of Welcome Team volunteers who gave up their time – we couldn’t do what we do without you.”
Looking beyond Cardiff University and the Students’ Union, Freshers’ Week is a significant week for the city of Cardiff as a whole with four universities and one of the largest student populations in the UK.
Gair Rhydd contacted Story Nightclub, a new club which only opened its doors to the public in September, to find out if Freshers’ Week was successful for them. A spokesperson for the new nightclub said, “[Freshers’ Week] has been a great success”. The club has launched three student nights – Propaganda, Smack Fridays and Quidz Mondays – and feel they have “established [themselves] as a key player” in the Cardiff nightlife scene.
Gair Rhydd also contacted Paper Agency and Przym for additional comments but has not received a response.
Ultimately, 2019 Freshers’ Week seems to have been successful for the Students’ Union, the university and beyond. The Union has seen thousands of new students walk through its doors, sold thousands of club tickets (and VKs!) and societies have seen thousands of sign-ups. It appears to have been a promising start to the semester for this year’s Elected Officers.