‘Shocked and disappointed’: REMO students’ officer reacts to Sugarhouse preferenda results

‘What we can do is educate students on the club’s history’

Lancaster University Students’ Union announced that the controversial name of the union’s nightclub would remain the same, following a preferendum.

The vote, which over 2000 students participated in, consisted of ten proposed names, including The Sugarhouse. It followed a long campaign, spearheaded by the Why is My Curriculum White? campaign and Racial and Ethnic Minority students’ officer Max Kafula* documenting Lancaster’s racist history.

The campaign inspired a preferendum at the beginning of this month to rename the students’ union nightclub “The Sugarhouse” due to the name being linked with the slave trade.

It was announced that The Sugarhouse would retain its original name after 868 students voted to keep it.

We spoke to Max about the preferenda, his own opinions on the results, and what’s next for the campaign.

When asked about his initial reaction to the news that The Sugarhouse would remain under the same name, Max said: “I was very shocked and disappointed when I saw the results. Especially seeing the margin of victory compared to the second option. I knew it was going to be a tough campaign, but I hoped the Sugarhouse would be renamed.

“When I do come off boycott, I will need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to better include students and POC in our campaigns, in addition to working with the local community in ensuring that the club’s history is known and everyone understands why people campaigned to rename it.”

In LUSU’s preferenda results announcement, they stated that whether The Sugarhouse “remains The Sugarhouse forever” is up to students.

Max said: “I would hope there will be another vote in the future, and I hope it will be much more successful. When that happens is something I cannot answer now. However, what we can do is educate students on the club’s history and hope that, when there’s another chance to rename it, there will be greater support.”

Max felt that the high turnout for the old name was most likely due to “nostalgia” and the fear that “it might actually undo history.”

However, Max was wary about making any further assumptions: “I also hope students can remain as respectful as possible.”

Max added: “I voted for the Treehouse in honour of our beloved Norman the Tree.”

*Max is currently on strike from his role as Racial and Ethnic Minority Students’ Officer following the LCO team’s decision to boycott the students’ union until their demands are met.

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