CUSU Facebook Gaffe As Ents War Resumes

EXCLUSIVE: CUSU attempt to censure Big Fish Facebook group as Ents war turns nasty again.

big fish Big Fish Ents CUSU CUSU ents rahul mansigani sarah fortescue simon burdus suad

Members of the ‘Cambridge Freshers Group 2010’ on Facebook might have been surprised when it disappeared this week, only to return as the ‘Big Fish Ents Cambridge Fresher’s Group’ a few days later.

Anyone familiar with the acrimonious world of Cambridge ‘Ents’ however, won’t have batted an eyelid.

With term less than three weeks away, the old battle between the Cambridge student union (CUSU) and Simon Burdus’ Big Fish company over the right to host the town’s most popular club nights has been resumed in style.

Burdus, whose Big Fish group has steadily taken over CUSU’s turf since he left the organisation in 2008, received an email last Wednesday (September 8th) notifying him that Facebook had removed the popular fresher’s group he was running, which had attracted over 1,100 members.

He soon learned from the social networking site that his group’s removal had followed an official complaint from CUSU’s new Ents manager Sarah Fortescue, on the grounds that it was passing itself off as an official university group.

Burdus told The Tab: “I went to the CUSU office to confront Sarah Fortescue about what she had done. They didn’t let me speak to her but I saw Rahul [the CUSU president] having ‘a word’ with her as I left.”

CUSU soon withdrew their complaint, and Burdus has put the name of his company in the title of the resurrected group “as a courtesy”.

He told us “In no way at all was my group passing itself off as an official group. Nowhere did I use the word “official”, I linked to the student union website and in the ‘About’ section I wrote that ‘I thought it would be useful to have this group as no one else had done it yet’. When mine started CUSU didn’t have one for at least a further 6 months.”

He continued: “I was absolutely shocked that the new Ents manager would be so under hand and abuse her position as well as the power of CUSU in a sorry attempt to try and promote her events. I do believe she did it without informing the president and Rahul did everything in his power to sort the situation. He cares about students where she cares about herself.”

In the spirit of democratic engagement with the student body, no-one from CUSU was available to speak to The Tab.


The latest row with Big Fish comes after a bad summer for CUSU, in which they have suffered the resignation of their Ents officer Matt Morgan and lost their biggest night, Shut Up And Dance or SUAD.

Formerly a popular CUSU night at Revolution on Thursdays, SUAD has now moved to Life (or The Place) under Burdus’ control and will compete with the legendary ‘Wednesday night Cindies’ next term.

The loss of SUAD leaves CUSU with only one weekly night in a major Cambridge club, and their new ‘Deck Shufflers’ night at Revolution has so far only attracted just 32 attendees on Facebook and is predicted to struggle badly against Burdus’ competing night at Cindies.

Some students question whether CUSU should still be paying an Ents manager more than £16,000 per year in light of the union’s minimal participation in Cambridge’s nightlife.

Girton third year Ruth Buscombe told The Tab: “People vote with their feet. The success of Big Fish Ents begs the question as to whether CUSU Ents should focus its efforts on other areas to benefit the students rather than fighting a losing battle over club nights. In most universities the union is a social hub for all variety of Ents, you certainly can’t say the same for CUSU!”

Rumours that SUAD was taken from CUSU after plummeting door sales are difficult to substantiate, but one source told The Tab that by the end the event’s attendance had almost halved compared to two years before.

Despite the dwindling range of nights she has to run, CUSU Ents’ new girl Sarah Fortescue evidently hasn’t found the time to update which still claims that her organisation runs SUAD, and that it is “the only place to be on a Thursday in Cambridge”.

At least the makers of the CUSU Freshers’ Guide 2010 have a sense of humour. Page 28 of the booklet claims that “CUSU Ents is the official entertainment provider, currently RUINING three weekly nights”.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.


Confused by all the nights in Cambridge? WATCH OUT for The Tab’s listings of all the club nights, coming soon.