The Impact of the RCC on O’Week 2020

Words by Nicholas Birchall

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O’Week 2020 — Credit: Adelaide University Union

The Fringe and Adelaide Festival are undeniably some of Adelaide’s most hotly anticipated calendar events. Attracting close to 35,000 interstate and international visitors, together they generate a staggering $95 million in gross economic expenditure. The Royal Croquet Club undeniably plays a significant part in the city’s buzzing atmosphere for late February and Early March, providing a significant boost to Adelaide’s dwindling nightlife. Between world-class musical acts, DJ’s all night long, bright lights and seemingly endless alcohol, it is the place to be… I just wish it wasn’t at Adelaide Uni.

This (for lack of a better term) open-air nightclub, operates throughout the entirety of O’Week. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how daunting it was the first time you stepped onto campus. An unfamiliar environment, with unfamiliar people, doing unfamiliar things. When I started university in 2018, I had the privilege of an O’Week free from hinderance. The whole campus was open. From games on the Barr-Smith Lawns, to Club stalls on the Maths Lawns, to a pop-up bar on the bottom level of Union House, and even an open-air movie night in the Cloisters. 2018 freshers were truly blessed with a showcase of all the university had to display. Campus was a place you desperately wanted to be during the day, with so much to offer.

Sadly, this would not last forever. 2019 and 2020’s O’Weeks have only been hamstrung by the RCC’s presence.

O’Week has traditionally been the time where the over 150 University Clubs sign up the most members in their calendar year. These clubs rely, and thrive on O’Week, many of whom would cease to exist without the influx this week provides. 2019 attempted some semblance of normality, with clubs co-opting space on the Maths Lawns, occupied at night by the RCC. 2020’s Clubsland took place in the hub, with drastically reduced space. Students were fed through the meat grinder, with minimal space to stop and interact with respective clubs, in a cluttered thoroughfare, reminiscent of a carnival sideshow.

As psychology tells us, first experiences are exponentially important when forming a view of something. As I previously mentioned, my first experiences at Uni were nothing but positive. It’s somewhere I wanted to be long after my introductory lectures had finished. Having spoken to several 2020 freshers, the limited activities and social spaces meant that many students were often on a mass exodus from Uni at their first opportunity. These first impressions of university can’t instil a sense of belonging or familiarity.

Please also keep in mind that the agreement between the RCC and UofA does not include monetary remuneration for use of the grounds and facilities of our Uni. That’s right students, your fees are paying for the RCC to disrupt your study. One feels like an intruder in their own campus, being forbidden from accessing what their own fees pay for, and always under the watchful eye of RCC security. Between lawns that have been rendered unusable due to occupation, as well as almost labyrinthian pathways created by temporary structures, the university campus just doesn’t feel like that, a campus.

Not to mention the disrespect of our campus that inherently comes when you mix alcohol, drugs, loud music, and raucously indifferent patrons. From toilet cubicles smeared with faecal matter, innumerable cigarette butts, 4pm Tuesday tac-voms, and Boomers riding electric scooters through the Hub. The campus is receiving an absolute thrashing.

Compared with the O’Fiesta run by Flinders Uni Students Association, our O’Week was just far less appealing. But please don’t think for a moment I am criticising the work our AUU staff do. They are drastically restricted in what they can accomplish, due to the ridiculous limitations imposed by a corporate entity that is entirely profit-driven. It was shown time and time again that our Union can put on amazing events if they’re given carte blanche to do so. With the obscene constraints they currently work under, I’m surprised this year was as good as it was, and I applaud the dedicated staff from the AUU for their hard work.

If the University is the “Beating Heart of Adelaide” as the marketing would have you believe, then the RCC is a malignant, parasitic tumour, that feeds off the university, offering nothing in return, and O’Week has just gone into cardiac arrest.

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Nicholas Birchall, Felix Eldridge, Taylor Fernandez and Larisa Forgac. Email us at onditmag@gmail.com

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