Freshers’ Fair was evacuated this morning after concerns over the structural integrity of the tent. It is currently closed to all non-commercial groups and is expected to remain so for the rest of the day. The Students’ Union announced on its official Twitter account that the tent had been closed “due to safety concerns because of high winds” and would reopen tomorrow at 10am.
The sudden announcement came as a shock to many that had braved the rain to attend. Leaks had been reported from Monday but it had previously been thought that the standing water on top of the tent was a problem that could be contained without halting the fair. The Students’ Union has reported that the evacuation was conducted in “a calm, cooperative manner”, though one Fresher admitted his frustration that many of them “didn’t have a clue what was going on. We couldn’t hear the megaphone”.
200 hundred people outside have been waiting to go back in, mostly societies keen to put their stalls in order. Commercial services have been given permission to go back inside first, although many groups are worried about having thousands of pounds worth of equipment inside and not being able to retrieve it. It is expected that, although societies will be allowed back inside at some point today, the tent will not open to the general student body until at least tomorrow morning.
Talking to Impact, Activities Officer Michelle Mclaughlin said she hoped that the structural issues could be resolved as soon as possible, “I think they’ll work as hard as they can today to get it fixed as it is in everyone’s interests to get it sorted.”
Some students have suggested that the Fair should open for an extra day on Thursday, to make up for the recruiting time lost by the bad weather. Some of the large store holders, however, have revealed to Impact that, although they expect to be refunded for the day being lost, they are not keen to come back for an extra day. McLaughlin has already begun planning for further opportunities for societies to recruit, with an idea that stalls can be provided in halls, Portland and around Lenton “to really push sign-ups and for if people want someone to talk to about a society that they are interested in”.
One fresher, however, was undeterred by the closure. When asked if he would return to the Fair, he stated, “Yeah, I’ll come back. I want the freebies”.
The Fair will reopen tomorrow at 10 am after an engineer confirmed that new structural supports have stabilised the roof.
Update at 17:10 – 25th September:
Plans to open the Fair on Thursday are under discussion. Impact will publish the decision tomorrow.
Additional reporting by Izzy Scrimshire, Rosie Feenstra, Oscar Williams, Josh Franks, Ben James and Ellis Schindler.