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.