Outside of the many drink-filled nights out, the making of new friends and the creation of life-long memories, fresher’s week is all about two events; the so-called Bunfight and the Fresher’s Fayre.

The latter has the attraction of numerous freebies, deals and – everyone’s favourite – free pizza. Yet, it is the Bunfight that truly makes your University experience what it is by making sure you cram as much as you can into your University life and live it to its full potential.

With thousands of possible activities that students can sign up too on offer – from appearing on the radio to becoming politicized to volunteering for your local charity – the possibilities were endless. And that doesn’t even include sports; hockey, football, skydiving, snowboarding, sailing, Tchoukball – you name it and Southampton probably has it with the largest and more diverse Athletic’s Union in Britain. Last Wednesday’s Bunfight truly was a event full of infinite possibility for the thousands of first-years that crammed into the SUSU buildings.

Yet, for a certain minority of students, such a opportunity was unavailable as Wednesday’s Bunfight clashed with Yom Kippur, a major Jewish Holiday.

Yom Kippur is the holiest of all the Jewish holidays; a day purposefully for atonement and repentance. It requires all Jews to fast for 25 hours – beginning this year from sundown on Tuesday 25th September and through to the day after – with intensive prayer taking place, with many often spending most of their time in the synagogue or at home with their families.

Consequently, most practicing Jews were unavailable to attend the Bunfight on the 26th; meaning both Freshers missed out on the whole event, as many would have been fasting and at prayer, as well as leaving Southampton University’s Jewish Society shorthanded.

The Wessex Scene, keen to know why SUSU had scheduled the event on a date which meant a certain minority of students would be unable to attend the event were keen to find out how the event had been planned and why the clash had not been avoided.

Chloe Green, Vice President for Welfare and Communities, and Dean Jones, Vice President for Sports Development stated that it was impossible to change the date by the time Jewish Society had informed them of the clash:

“Unfortunately, we found out about Yom Kippur’s clashing date from a member of the Jewish Society in July and, due to the bunfight’s complex logistics, it was simply implausible to change it at short notice. Had we switched the event days, it would have meant Jewish students missing out on something else: Help and Support Day or the Freshers’ Fayre for example. Of course, this is far from ideal, but with such short notice, we simply couldn’t do more.”

SUSU have also promised to accommodate the situation as much as they can. They continued:

“Having contacted the Jewish Society, we suggested that we do something else for them at another time; they’re yet to respond, but the offer still stands. Many people struggle to attend the bunfight for any number of reasons; academic commitments, mental health reasons, not yet being in the country etc. This summer we’ve created a Get Involved website to encourage students to engage outside of and beyond the bunfight. We hope that students can empathise with this difficulty and engage with societies through the SUSU website, their Facebook society pages or through their peers.”

The Union is therefore willing to try to do what it can; though, as Chloe states, it is still possible to get involved with socities through the Union website.

Charlotte Pollins, President of the Jewish Society, seemed satisfied with the response:

“It’s unfortunate that the bunfight occurred on Yom Kippur as we weren’t able to represent our society to the fullest, as many that would usually help run the stall were at home with family. However, we still had a few society members fasting in Southampton that were available to run the stall.”

Indeed, for those of you who saw the Jewish Society stand, it was clear that numbers were down from previous years with only two volunteers at the stall; both of which were fasting. However, Charlotte continued:

We had a large amount of students sign up in comparison to previous years, so we’re happy how the bunfight went under the circumstances.

A happy story in the end then. Hopefully next time such a clash can be avoided in order for all freshers to enjoy the experience.

7 Comments »

Leave your response!

  • Jesus
    avatar

    Really?! Is this really sufficient? Would SUSU organise for the Bunfight to occur on Christmas Day? Also how is 3 months notice not enough time to rearrange the occassion.

    SUSU should represent all it’s members, not just the white christians that make up the sabbatical team. It’s disgraceful that in modern society, with a Union that prides itself on its inclusivety that someone failed to check whether there was any religious observance days.

    Next you’ll be arranging for all you can eat world record attempts to be held outside the isalmic prayer room during ramadan.

    Shocking, disgraceful behaviour that just goes to show that SUSU is completely out of touch with students who are not white, middle-class christians

    Reply

    Does it really matter?
    avatar

    Funny that, with 200 odd societies and sports clubs something might clash. I mean on Monday think of Rocksoc who couldn’t have got a good turnout as they were celebrating the 20th anniversary release of Nirvana’s Nevermind album as they would all have been at the Hobbit moshing; and on Tuesday no-one would have been able to make it to uni due to Jesters 50p pints the night before… It gets worse Mexican soc would have really struggled on Thursday as they were celebrating the end of their independence war and on Friday it was not only world rabies day so think of all the people that couldn’t have attended the bun fight then, but also The Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster class every Friday as a holy day so they wouldn’t have been able to make it.

    This was clearly not an intentional mistake, the bun fight has always been on Wednesday – and as said in the article just because they weren’t at the bun fight it doesn’t prevent people from signing up. NON-STORY!

    Reply

    Tom
    avatar

    The Freshers’ fayre handing out food and free pizza every year has clashed with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on previous occasions. I do not recall seeing any complaints about Muslim students not being able to enjoy the Pizza. I also do not recall seeing an article of students complaining that previously (I did not attend this year) the route of the freshers’ fayre drags them through night club stands giving out alcohol when religiously they disagree with this. Life is not always perfect and you just have to deal with it!

    Reply

  • Charlotte Harwood
    avatar

    To ‘does it really matter’ – a hangover from 50p pints at Jesters is completely different from a major religious holiday from a religion which has a significant amount of students at Southampton University. There is no rule that the Bunfight has to be on a Wednesday, and it is a very significant day for Freshers, often marking when they first join a society which will form a major part of their university lives. Surely this day was more important than the Freshers Fayre, with free pizza and a few vouchers?

    Tom – Unfortunately the fact that Ramadan is an entire month would make it impossible to work a one day event which needs to take place in Freshers’ Week around it. Since the vast majority of Muslims conduct their lives like normal during this time (working, studying etc), it would also not be necessary to change. This was a one day Jewish holiday which required many Jews to go home to celebrate it with their families. The argument that Muslims cannot enjoy free pizza (of which there is actually very little) is ridiculous – would you stop all cafes and shops from functioning because one group is fasting by choice? This is a completely different issue.

    This was obviously an unintentional error, but hopefully from this it won’t happen again, and the dates of Freshers’ events can be worked out so that no student is prevented from going to what is possibly the most important day of Freshers’.

    Reply

    Does it really matter?
    avatar

    Charlotte, my point being albeit with a few ridiculous examples – there are always going to be groups of people that cannot attend for various reasons – has this been made a deal out of just because it is a religious group? As a fresher, I had compulsory introductory things to go to all day and so missed the bun fight, but still joined clubs.

    Reply

    Charlotte Harwood
    avatar

    My point was exactly that a religious holiday should be treated differently – especially if the other reasons were hangovers, or events such as a album anniversary. The day requires religious observance which could not in most cases be postponed until the evening, and is very important to Jews. Being a Jew (or a Christian, a Hindu etc.) is not the same as being a Nirvana fan or regular Monday night Jester-goer .

    I do understand your point being that there will always be certain people who cannot come to events – but to be on one of a major religions most important holidays? And contrary to ‘Jesus’ commenting above, I highly doubt that SUSU would have dared to have the Bunfight on a Islamic holiday which would prevent the great majority of them coming due to the outcry that it would no doubt cause.

    SUSU did have a lot to juggle in regards to this week, and there will always be clashes (I missed my own Freshers’ Fayre to sort out modules for my course), but I think booking the day on a religious holiday was an inappropriate, if accidental, action.

    Reply

  • Jess
    avatar

    Clashes of all sorts happen; I missed Fresher’s Fayre due to my department scheduling a field trip for that day. What disappoints me is that I signed up for at least 8 societies on the Get Involved website by the end of Fresher’s week and have only heard from 2.

    Reply