SUBU apologise for queue conditions at Summer Ball

People were fainting and having panic attacks in the queue, others have claimed water was not in good supply

Last Saturday, Bournemouth once again hosted the biggest student summer ball event in the country.

As usual, the event was sold out , with a huge 7,500 tickets being sold – but students have described how the huge amount of people present led to them being "crushed" as they "couldn't breathe" in the queues to get in; some of which people were stood in for up to two hours.

SUBU told one student before the event that free tap water would be available from all 12 bars. However, after many claimed this was not the case, SUBU clarified free water was available only from the two main bars and the welfare tent.

The friend of a disabled student also claims they were told by other attendees that "[he] deserves to wait in the hot sun like everyone else".

There were two sections to the queue – an initial part to check IDs and then a second part to check tickets.

The majority of the queue was held up before the first section, and in previous years there has only been one check where IDs, tickets and bags were all looked at together.

Students report being stuck in the first queue for up to two hours, with no access to water and others say they saw people having panic attacks and fainting.

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Ria Wolstenholme, a final year Journalism student, described how being in the queue caused her to have a panic attack.

"It's a bit of a blur because I don't remember the panic attack, I always blank afterwards," she said.

"I remember it getting hotter, being crushed more and more to the point the crowd was moving us and I turned to my friend and told her I couldn't do it and I needed to get out.

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"Then I couldn't breathe, I was crying and being moved forward and had everyone in the crowd looking at me."

She also described how another girl had come up to her in the queue before struggling with a friend.

"A girl who's friend had MS and was in a wheelchair came up to us asking to get through because they were trapped. We saw them get out the queue and they were both very stressed."

Dan Dove, another Bournemouth Journalism student, told The Tab he was in the queue for around two hours: "[There were] thousands of people trying to squeeze in and inevitably people pushing from the back caused everyone to be crunched together in 21 degree heat.

"One girl was having a panic attack and another girl was being held up by her friends due to her feeling weak and unable to stand.

"We were so far into the queue and in a mass of around a thousand people that the girls had no way of getting out because it was so tightly squeezed together.

"Last year, the Summer Ball ran smoothly and we were in within a matter of seconds. This year a two hour crunch of people to get in ruined the experience for myself and others."

Complaints about lack of accessibility to free tap water were also made after SUBU made assurances over provision.

Hannah Gibbins, another Bournemouth student, said she was assured by SUBU that tap water would be provided for free at 12 bars, but of the five bars she visited none of them could offer her free tap water or a refill.

Hannah had reached out to SUBU to ask about the water before attending the event, saying, "last year I tried to buy a bottle for someone having a panic attack from an ice cream van and he said £7".

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Hannah posted on 'Overheard in Bournemouth' asking if other people had been denied free tap water at Summer Ball with many replying saying they had.

Line Ackermann, who says she worked on the bar at the event, commented on the post saying her bar did serve free tap water but that, "students didn't have the time to wait for them to refill the water container so got angry and either left or gave us shit about it," before going on to add, "I do agree there was a lack of places to get free water though".

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Georgia Timmis, who studies Events Management at BU, told The Tab how her friend nearly fainted whilst they were queueing: "I brought my sister and some friends with me to Summer Ball and she ended up nearly fainting in the queue.

"When we got to the ID check one of the members of staff gave me their bottle of water for her to drink as they didn’t have access to any other water for the students.

"The most worrying part was that if she had fainted I’m unsure how we would have got help and got her away from the crowd as everyone in the crowd were already irritated and pushing each other."

Another final year student, who did not wish to be named, said: "One of my friends was having a panic attack but there were so many people around I couldn't do anything.

"I tried to make some room and the people around me desperately tried to help but there was nowhere to go.

"I managed to get the tiniest bit of space around her so I could reassure her that the only person touching her was me but she was in tears and I'd never had to help someone having a panic attack so I didn't know what to do.

"Another friend we were with had been pushed right back, she could see what was happening but nobody would let her through to help me. She had to try and shout through the crowds to tell me to blow on my friend's face and constantly reassure her.

"In all my three years at BU I've never known anything like it, we've never had to queue like that for Summer Ball. We were there for at least an hour, and by the end all three of us were in tears and had to spend another hour or so being checked over in the tent with the medical volunteers. There was a girl passed out on the floor in there too."

Students also took to Facebook pages, such as Overheard at Bournemouth, to share their experiences and call out other students in the chaos.

A student posting in 'Overhead at Bournemouth' Facebook group claims a group of girls didn't let a disabled student through to the front of the queue, saying he "deserves to wait in the hot sun like everyone else".

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The post went on to describe how the person in question's condition worsens in the hot weather that there was on Saturday, and accuses the girls of "kicking up a fuss" when the friend fainted and needed medical attention.

Alan Dove, Commercial Services Manager at SUBU, told The Tab:

"The queues were too slow this year and we had to take unplanned measures to speed them up. This will be rectified in future by using a different ticketing system. Clearly we are sorry for this.

"Nobody fainted in the queue. We treated three people, two were very drunk and being sick, one was poorly (a situation not made better by the queue).

"Free water was available all night from the two main bars and the welfare tent next to first aid. Bottle water was on sale too and was £1.50. This has been the system for all previous Summer Balls, but we will review it for 2019 – it could be easier to simply provide a water point."