There’s a name change coming to your Union bar

The Newcastle University Students Union.
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Sarah Cossom.The Newcastle University Students Union. Image: Wikimedia Commons, Sarah Cossom.

At the start of Semester two a jot form was launched for suggestions for the Mens Bar name change. The launch followed the decision to change the name of Mens Bar as proposed by the 6 Sabbatical Officers, which was passed by the Student Council, in December last year.

Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) have now put it to the student body to come up with a suitable, sexy not sexist, alternative. So far, this has been advertised primarily on the NUSU website, in lecture shout outs and around campus. The suggestion box is available online via a jot form on the NUSU website.

Whilst, as NUSU notes on its website, the name ‘Mens Bar’ derives from the Latin ‘Mens agitat Molem’ (‘Mind controls Matter’) it is not particularly obvious. The majority of the student population have not studied or do not study Latin, so it is easy to understand the possible misconceptions of the name.

Olivia Wall, an active member of Newcastle University’s LGBT Society, is ambivalent over the change, however, she sees how it could be important. She recalled that the name allegedly deterred some international students from entering as they believed women were prohibited.

Many have assumed the same mentality, that the name Mens Bar was in some way similar to that of the Magdalene College undergraduates, who revolted at the introduction of women into the Cambridge institution.

In fact, this mentality did exist, to an extent, in the Newcastle University of the 1960s. A contemporaneous Courier article reported on ‘an invasion’ of women into the male-dominated bar that provoked a strong backlash from the dinosaurs, ahem, men of the bar.

“The decision to change the name of Mens Bar is a grassroots project, coined and chosen by the student body, for the student body”

Chris Duddy, NUSU’s Education Officer, sees this change as ‘incredibly positive’, citing the thorny history of Mensbar, when it was a male-only bar.

Moreover, he points out that ‘Mens Agitat Molem’ was the motto of Armstrong College, when it was still tied to Durham University and is therefore no longer relevant today. In fact the original motto was ‘Agitat Bar’, Mens Bar being a ‘convenient retrofit’ for the like of the 1960s clientele.

So far, the jot form itself has garnered a multitude of suggestions. Outside of this, the popular ‘Memecastle University’ Facebook page (@meme-castleuniversity) has a couple of its own suggestions including ‘Meme Bar’ and ‘Trebs Bar’, in keeping with the Newcastle spirit.

The decision to change the name of Mens Bar is a grassroots project, coined and chosen by the student body, for the student body. The crème de la crème of the suggestions will be shortlisted by Student Council. During the March elections, the shortlist of names will be released and put to a student referendum.

As would be expected, the names must be enduring and have some significance to Newcastle University’s ethos. Fortunately, for Chris Duddy, this means that his flatmate’s contribution ‘Duddy’s beard is s***’ probably won’t make it. Unfortunately, this means that ‘Barry McBarface’ is not likely to be considered either.

The costs of this change do not look be too high. Since the only changes to the bar will be aesthetic – i.e. rebranding only – it is likely to be a relatively cost effective project, especially if it attracts more customers to the bar.

This is predicted in the short term as the renamed bar will be relaunched to the public. Without the off-putting name, it is hoped that the bar will naturally attract more customers.

Be sure to get voting in March!

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