I have always had issues with the Old Bar: from the fact that every event last year seemed to be double booked, to the promise of food being provided at an event there that was guaranteed to fall through. After these minor shortcomings, I won’t lie, it was a grand place. The music was never too loud (though later I found out that was because most of the speakers were broken), and, it carried a more relaxed atmosphere than the New Bar. The one major issue that I just couldn’t get over was its accessibility, or should I say, the lack of accessibility.
As I write this I have seen a stream of “#SaveOurSpace” statuses on Facebook, advocating that the Old Bar doesn’t close, and I can’t help but wonder why no one is talking about the fact that a wheelchair user couldn’t ever comfortably access the Old Bar like their peers.
It struck me the first time I ever went to the Old Bar, that there was no lift, no elevator. You see, though I can walk up the stairs of the Old Bar like everyone campaigning to the save the space, I suffer from a neurological disorder that almost left me in a wheelchair. Although this was four years ago, and I’m perfectly healthy now, it has always left me aware & conscious of accessibility/inaccessibility issues throughout UCC and the greater Cork area.
Yes, the Old Bar was a convenient venue for on campus Student Union, Club and Society events, but why are the people who are meant to be the most liberal & accepting on campus so heavily plugging a venue that doesn’t understand what equality is? These bodies are meant to make you feel comfortable, equal and welcome in the University, and with every status vying to #SaveOurSpace I have never felt more uncomfortable, more unwelcome.
Why aren’t they using this time and their resources to evaluate the shortcomings of the Old Bar, and push for more accessibility around campus; for more events that won’t be fueled by alcohol, for another venue that can be used until the new Student Hub is finished? I’m aware that University College Cork has plans in motion to make the University more accessible, and the Students Union has helped towards pushing this, but it’s no excuse to stop fighting for these things.
Why did this select group of people get to decide that the Old Bar is an essential amenity? The Societies Executive have always harped on about promises of more alcohol-free events: the time is now, lads. The Students Union is meant to be the executive we elected to fight for our equality, our right to enjoy college life on an equal platform: well let me tell you, saving the Old Bar isn’t that platform. What ever happened to that mandate about hosting events in accessible places? “Save our space”, they say. ‘Our space’, but only if you can walk to it.
Editor’s Note: The author of this article requested that we provide them with a pseudonym, which we have agreed to. The pseudonym was supplied by UCC Express staff, and was chosen at random.