Shedding old skin? The farce of the Shed name change

Forget the SU elections, this is what the big discussion on campus is

pub students union the shed

It’s been pretty obvious from the first suggestion that very few people wanted to change the name of our beloved on-campus pub, The Shed. Our not-so-beloved students’ union has decided to pursue the matter regardless.

If that’s not enough to convince you the vote on the Shed name change is ridiculous, then let it be my pleasure to write a few more hundred words on the subject.

Firstly, the Shed doesn’t ‘need’ a re-brand. It wasn’t a failing business or a shady hideout; instead, it was the forefront of a popular campaign called ‘Save The Shed’ – even more popular now that students can get wasted for less money. People wanted to save it because The Shed was worth saving, not to turn it into something else.

For those of you who aren’t alcoholics, even the soft drinks are cheaper

For that matter, if you’re one of the people who think a re-brand is necessary because you keep confusing the Shed and the Engine Shed, you’re either a) not very clever or b) not a frequent visitor to the Shed. If you don’t visit the Shed, why are you voting on its name? You just stick to Tower Bars or whichever not-as-good-as-the-Shed hangout you prefer.

Dom Anderson, the NUS VP Welfare and Community, got very confused when he spoke at the SU’s AGM in the Engine Shed

Despite all the claims to be listening to what students want, the SU aren’t even letting you vote on the full list of names that were proposed. The Swan’s Nest? The Brayford Swan? My personal favourite, the Down and Stout? All names that were proposed, but you won’t find them on the students’ union shortlist.

I explained in my report on the last students’ union council that this vote was described as “a waste of resources”, and I couldn’t put it better myself. Some people have wasted their times thinking up those new names; many others will be wasting it on voting on what is clearly a consensus matter.

In the unlikely event that the Shed does change its name, that will be a waste of resources too – the money that will be spent changing the sign-age, the menus, even thinking up what to rename the infamous Shed burger. (A ‘Swan burger’ could easily be misinterpreted, although a ‘Brayford burger’ sounds appropriate, since its waters seem to be full of dead sheep.)

It’s the first burger on the menu, so it must be really important

If ‘Save The Shed’ proved anything, it proved that our campus pub matters to people. Shedlings will vote in the SU elections because it matters to them – more than whichever wannabe politician wants to pretend they’re key to your tutors’ accountability this year.

It makes me wonder if this was done on purpose. The current SU exec will doubtless come back after these elections are over and tell us once more how ‘participation has gone up’, whatever that actually means, and pat themselves on the back. But a significant number of those votes will be from ‘Save The Shed’ campaigners who can’t bear to see the name of their local changed, and will have had to vote on everything else too.

The ‘Save The Shed’ campaign material still takes pride of place in the pub

There’s nothing wrong with students getting involved with SU democracy; in fact, I believe it’s a good thing. That said, if you can’t get them involved because their SU means something to them, and you have to resort to pushing a popular pub into the proceedings, then your democracy is failing – you don’t need the same old stereotypical candidates, you need a systematic change in student representation.

Maybe it’s not just the name of a pub after all.