Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Doors Closed to Students- by Catherine Wylie

JUST another sensationalist Gown headline, or is the above statement 100% fact? Can you imagine being denied access to the Union, the building that can only be described as a haven for so many at QUB? Strictly speaking, that is almost what happened from May right through to the day The Gown went to press.

The double doors on the left hand side of the Union facade have been out of order for four whole months, meaning that entering and exiting the building has had to be done through the other set of doors. This may sound very petty and trivial, but with a student population of over 24,000 there is a reason why two pairs of double doors were installed by the architects and not one. Therefore, The Gown went in search of some answers and spoke to premises manager Lorraine Meneilly in order to make sense of the whole debacle. Lorraine, who was adamant that she was no door expert, didn’t seem convinced that there was a problem. When asked why they had been out of order for so long, she merely stated that, “they continually got fixed and then manhandled again.” She seemed to be of the opinion that “it was something to do with shoes and feet, and that they had been overused, abused and kicked.” How a door to a union providing for over 24,000 can be “overused” is quite the mind boggler. Wasn’t it known at the time of installation what a popular spot the union is for QUB students? Evidently not, and so this door has sported an “Out of Order” sign for what can only be described as a disgracefully long amount of time. As the person responsible for remedying the problem, Lorraine admits that there has been an “unacceptable delay” but reassures us that she’s on the case and that there have been emails flying around since May.

The Gown spoke to an employee, who did not wish his name to be printed, from Felix O’Hare Co. & Ltd on Thursday 11th September. Having begun work at 9am on the seemingly impossibly task of fixing this most problematic door, he was confident that it should be back in working order by 5pm, and that included his lunch break. Laughing at our vented interest in what he was doing, he commented that it should have been done long ago, and that it was merely a job for one man that would take less than a day. When probed about whether or not he knew anything about when his firm was contacted about the matter in hand, he was unable to provide us with any details but stated that once his firm is contacted about a job, they endeavour to respond to it as soon as they can. So what effect has this had on the day to day running of the union, if any at all?

Granted, the Union is obviously not as busy in the summer as it is during term time, but it is still a very popular venue at the weekend for students and non-students alike. When asked about whether or not she thought the door being out of order had an ill effect on proceedings at weekends, Lorraine claimed that she would doubt very much that it had. Unconvinced that this was the case, The Gown made enquiries with the entertainments manager Rod Martin, who could tell us that throughout the summer approximately 400 people attended the bars in the Union on Friday nights. He also went on to reveal that Shine, which is an event organised outside of the Union, brought in approximately 800 and 900 people on its last two dates, and a whopping 1000 people attended it in July. That begs the question, how is the other, fully functional door holding up? Is it not being overused and baring the brunt? And how long will it be until it is out of order too? But similarly to Lorraine, we at The Gown are no door experts.
Here’s to a fully operational Union!


Anonymous said...

This story is extremely exaggerated. The time the doors weren't working was during the summer when the union was dead. The so-called 24,000 students passing through the union was realistically closer to a few hundred during that time of year.
Ever heard of making a mountain out of a molehill?

Anonymous said...

Really - those doors were broken? I thought they were closed for VIP members of the Union only - thanks for the ground breaking journalism Gown team!

An open door said...

...I think some people are taking things a little bit too seriously. Was this not supposed to be a joke storyline!? I thought it was hilarious!