An interview with: the Freshers’ Week Organisers

‘Freshers: Take 2017’ behind the scenes: Freshers' Week Organisers, Alice Boniface, Chloe Burton, Kieran Peel and Josh Turner‘Freshers: Take 2017’ behind the scenes: Freshers' Week Organisers, Alice Boniface, Chloe Burton, Kieran Peel and Josh Turner

Editor James Sproston gets the scoop on Freshers’ Week from those at the very top.

J: Would you like a biscuit?

Erm…

C: Are they all broken?

J: No! Just two… and I’ll eat that one first [gestures towards a sad looking Rich Tea]. When you’re putting your hand in the biscuit tin you’ve got to make sure you touch all the biscuits. You’ve got to lick at least one.

K: Right. I think we’re ready.

What’s it been like organising freshers’ week?

C: Well I don’t know where to start.

It’s a bit broad, I know.

K: It’s been alright so far; a lot more emailing than I thought it would be.

[Everyone nods and grunts in agreement]

K: I don’t know what they would’ve done ten years ago.

C: I’m pretty sure phones were a thing then

J: [Sarcastically] It’s been the most amazing three weeks of my life. I’m the luckiest boy in the entire world.

C: You can’t get tone through in an interview, Josh. They’ll think we actually enjoy it.

B: We have enjoyed it though. It’s been fun visiting the activities, and we’ve filmed everything for the website. So we’ve had to try everything out for free, it’s a really hard job.

J: Taking Boni to the floor and making her jump has been a real highlight.

B: Every. Single. Day.

C: The free things are also nice.

J: We’ve been making a list of the free things we’ve managed to get from promoters and clubs. It’s not going well but we’ve got like a pint of coffee.

A pint of coffee?

J: Yeah, what else have we got on there?

B: We’ve got free entry to Powerhouse on Gay Pride night.

J: Well that’s exciting.

C: I think we should answer the question now

B: Well I’m enjoying free stuff and going to the activities.

K: It is quite rewarding putting new stuff on for the students.

C: Yeah, especially Food Wars.

J: Having a say in what goes on does make us feel important.

So is it weird seeing it from the Union perspective?

C: I don’t know… [Shakes head vigorously] I don’t think so. It just feels like the next step up from Crew, so I think we feel confident enough to organise it.

B: Us Union Wankers are used to the Union world.

Do you have any memorable moments from your own Freshers’ Week experiences?

C: I was underage during my Freshers’.

K: Yeah, you were 17 for yours, weren’t you?

C: Yep, 17.

B: I remember queueing up outside Riverside for two hours and then sacking it off to go to Sinners.

I’m pretty sure I did exactly the same thing.

B: It was literally ridiculous.

K: Mine was Example, and it was meant to be outside. Apparently that’s because he was so loud that the entire building shook when he played, but it rained so we ended up inside. It was just a mad rush to get in, and I was fought my way through towards the edge of the stage. I’m not kidding here, for about an hour I thought this bald man was Example.

[Laughter]

K: Turned out he was a bouncer.

J: I remember very little of Freshers’ Week because I did it properly.

C: Nice.

J: At Pandamonium, me and my friend Sophie started some kind of weird trend. So they asked us what we thought of when we first thought of pandas, and we said pandas giving birth. That’s only because it’s always on the news. Anyway, as a result we acted out a panda giving birth, and for the rest of the night they kept asking people to re-enact a panda giving birth. [Grins broadly] We started that. [Giggles] We’re freaks.

B: I remember having really boring flatmates that didn’t want to go out. Pick-ups were really early at like 8pm, and I’d eaten tea, got dressed and was seriously ready to drink. I basically had the jug on the table ready for ring of fire, like a classic 19-year old, and they were all still cooking their pasta. GUYS IT’S LIKE HALF SEVEN AND YOU HAVEN’T EVEN HAD A SPRITZER. It was genuinely painful dragging them out every night.

J: It wasn’t as bad as last year on Crew when I knocked on a door and said “hi we’re here for pick-ups” and someone said “oh we thought you were the sushi”.

[Laughter]

J: I’ve never been more upset with someone in my life.

  1. To be fair in my Freshers’ Week I went to the final night because it was open to all students, which meant it was open to me. To be fair I could’ve gone to the daytime activities but… I probably should’ve to be honest, they’re the best part of it really.

Was it those experiences that made you want to organise the week yourselves?

C: Well, I don’t know if this story can go in The Courier, but basically I realised I wanted to do Crew. I was in second year, and I came home to my geeky flatmate having passed out in the toilet, and I was like “I should’ve done Crew’.

[Laughter]

C: I started doing Crew the year after, and here we are.

J: Once again, not for the Courier, but they were like “Freshers’ Week will be the best week of your life”.

They?

J: Yes, ‘they’. Afterwards I was like “oh God, where do we go from here”. But then you do Crew and you realise that’s where you take it. No, we can’t put that in The Courier.

Don’t worry, it’ll stay between us.

J: Oh, like I believe that.

B: I feel like we’re just relived Freshers’ through Crew.

[Laughter]

B: It’s like doing Freshers’, and though you still don’t know anyone, you know the city and you can still try new stuff. It’s especially useful when you had regrets from your own Freshers’ Week because you get to do everything you missed first time round, but you feel more comfortable. Being a bit more familiar helps out a lot.

J: You’ve usually had three years of going out, well [looks sympathetically at Chloe] you’ve had five, but you have a good idea of what sort of stuff is out there and what you want to introduce to other people.

B: And it’s an event you’re creating for people for pure enjoyment; we just want people to have fun. That does make it quite a nice job to do, being able to help people have a nice time.

J: Yeah, and my CV’s gonna look plush after this.

K: There’s no “oh what will they benefit from this”, it’s just “will they have a nice time”.

[Noises of approval and agreement]

It’s really quite easy to pitch to people then?

K: Yeah, we like that.

J: Oh, and of course, money.

What?

J: Well, we get paid don’t we.

[Silence]

J: Don’t we?

K: Everyone loves money. Pay me please.

“Anyway, as a result we acted out a panda giving birth, and for the rest of the night they kept asking people to re-enact a panda giving birth”

Are you earning your pay so far? How’s the planning gone?

C: Quite smoothly, yeah, we haven’t hit any bumps.

K: Is it the end of our third week? I’m still expecting some massive sort of…

B: Pretty sure it’s our fourth week.

K: Is it?

C: Yeah, fourth.

J: No it’s not. [Chloe and Boni nod] Is it really?

K: [Looking at his phone] Oh… yeah.

J: We keep expecting something to come up that we’ve massively messed up on, but… [looks around nervously] we haven’t.

K: You mean we haven’t found it yet?

B: That will happen in September,

J: [With a look of defeatism] Yeah, probably.

B: Well, the only thing we’re still waiting on is headline acts, but that in itself has been fun, just thinking about different people we could get. Dealing with all the agencies and event companies is strangely exciting since it’s something you would barely even be aware of, never mind actually engage in.

J: I’m learning all about modern music.

B: Yes, we’re having an education.

J: I asked for the cast of Mamma Mia.

C: And Boni wanted Fuse ODG…

B: Millionpounddollarlalalala

[Laughter]

Not sure that’s the right song…

B: It is… I just can’t do the rest of it. Every fresher wishes they had Fuse ODG.

J: Or wishes they had the cast of Mamma Mia.

C: I love how you’re looking at the phone and leaning in.

J: Well you know I’m looking in their eyes. That’s my role.

[Everyone looks confused]

J: [Gestures a globe shape] To connect with the people.

C: Right.

So do you have roles in the office? Has someone taken charge?

C: [Laughs] Besides connecting with the people?

K: Boni’s taken complete charge, and we do whatever she wants us to do.

J: [With a look of pride] I bought a biscuit tin and a sweet bowl.

C: Kieran made a nest.

B: A nest for napping.

J: Oh, I also get the most points for general behaviour.

B: We have a naughty chart and a good chart for when…

K: The naughty chart is much more full than the good chart.

Why’s that?

J: That’s only because Boni’s already drunk at work and falls over in Mensbar. Oh sorry, Luthers’.

B: The good chart is for spreading joy and a cracking idea, but we haven’t really had many of those [breaks into a chuckle].

J: I feel like I spread a lot of joy.

B: I think you do… oh, you get a point for yesterday actually for falling into a wall when you tried to slut drop.

C: What?!

J: I smacked my nose on that wall because I was trying to open the door with a slut drop, but I swung round and it didn’t end well.

C: That’s not spreading joy.

J: I made Boni laugh for five minutes.

C: That’s not spreading joy to us though.

J: Nah well I get a point for that.

[Boni adds a point despite Chloe’s protestations]

K: I’m in charge of the finance.

B: Kieran does the finance, and literally we do nothing, we just pass it over to him. [Looks pleadingly over to Kieran] Please don’t let us do anything to do with money.

J: I’m doing marketing but I’ve never used a hashtag in my life. Actually that’s a lie, but not very many.

B: I live on spreadsheets and Excel doing timetables and logistics.

C: Well, I do health and safety but not much of that has come up because that’s all actually during the week so I’ve just been doing loads of daytime activities.

K: Also if you’re reading this and you don’t have a ball pool in the Northern Stage, then Chloe shut me down.

[Chloe maniacally cackles]

“You can’t get tone through in an interview, Josh. They’ll think we actually enjoy it”

Would that be one of your night-time activity highlights then, or are there other things you’re looking forward to?

K: HYPNODOG

[Groans]

K: It’s a dog that hypnotises people.

J: Please no.

K: Next question.

J: I’m really looking forward to the burlesque show.

K: Oh, burlesque show yeah. There’s nipple tassels in the burlesque show.

C: I’m really excited for the first night, the big kick off with an outside stage and the headline act.

J: Yeah, the outside stage is going to be so cool. [Shivers with anticipation] So cool.

B: Personally, I’m looking forward to the comedy club in Northern Stage because I go to The Stand so much and it’s something that’s quite individual to Newcastle that we have such a cheap and good quality comedy club on our doorstep.

K: Typical boring answer from Boni there.

B: What? I can’t say I’m looking forward to necking a bottle of vodka.

C: Are you?

B: Because I can’t anymore [sobs]. I’ll sip it and focus on the daytime stuff instead.

Do you have a specific daytime activity in mind?

B: Cocktail masterclass at The Alchemist.

J&C: [Look at each other] Food Wars.

C: The big final day with six food vendors, which is open to all students. It’ll be great because everyone loves food.

B: I think Canny Kitchen is going to be as well, which is this amazing Geordie woman who is just so passionate about food. She’s going to set up shop either outside Northern Stage or Venue, and just cook for two hours where people can just come in and try the food or learn how to cook basic student meals on the cheap. She’ll be giving out recipes and tip sheets, which is really cool.

You’re also planning on putting the Races on this year?

J: Oh yeah that’s really cool.

C: There’s just so much on so it’s really hard to say one favourite when you’re excited for everything.

K: It’ll be easier to say what we’re not looking forward to.

J: Yeah, like football.

C: I’m really excited for Lady GaGa.

[Laughter]

Okay then, to finish off, what’s the best piece of advice you’d give to Freshers moving into halls?

C: Ooooh

K: Don’t sober up.

[Laughter]

Anything else about Freshers’ Week or beyond that?

K: Stay slightly pissed throughout the whole year.

B: Seriously though, no matter how well you get on with your flatmates, try to meet as many people as possible. I was stuck with my first year lot for a whole year and it was miserable.

Yeah, it’s important not to rush into getting a place for second year before you’ve had a chance to get to know the people you want to live with.

C: Totally. Well, my first year flatmates were an exchange student and someone who eventually dropped out so I didn’t have anyone to live with. So do your best to make friends with people on your course.

J: Uh-huh.

B: Yep, definitely. Go to societies and meet other people. Just for a bit of variety.

J: If you’ve brought post-it notes for anything other than leaving memos for yourself, do not use them.

[Laughter]

K: Just because your friends with them now in September or October doesn’t mean they’re good to live with next year.

C: If I could give myself advice it would be to join the clubs and societies that you want to join don’t get put off by the fact that you’re going to be going into it alone.

K: We’re so alone here.

B: Yeah, lots of people will be in the same position as you.

C: That’s the exact reason I didn’t join lots of things and I massively regret it.

J: Also get to know people in other blocks; try to be social around the whole halls if you can because you can meet some fab people.

C: Fat people?

J: I mean, I said “fab”, but that too.

B: You’ll probably hear this a lot, but everyone is in the same position and everyone’s nervous about putting themselves out there. But people will appreciate it if you’re just like “hey let’s do something” because the chances are that they want to as well; you might feel nervous about saying it but just go for it.

C: DON’T SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY IN FRESHERS’ WEEK

B: NO, DO

J: Speaking of bad advice, start smoking, because the smoking shelter is a place where you get to meet people of all ages and sizes.

C: That is actually quite true.

B: You can make some odd friends there.

J: Regular smoking is just as good as social smoking.

C: Yeah the health benefits are unbelievable.

B: I heard it’s really good for your lungs or something like that.

Just to clarify, [leans into towards the phone] that was a joke. Please don’t smoke. It’s not good for you.

[Laughter]

Can you sum up the week in five words?

B: Oh God.

J: All I can think about is cigarettes now.

B: ‘Big, gay rainbow’.

[Laughter]

Well there’s three…

J: ‘Big, giant ball pit’.

C: Hmm, I don’t know.

J: ‘Film’… that’ll probably be a good one.

K: Yeah, ‘movies’.

Is that two or are you just using different words for the same thing?

B: Yeah, now I’m confused.

J: We’ve never been good with words.

B: Can we include an exclamation mark?

No.

C: It sounds a bit stupid, but like ‘something for everyone’, because there are so many different things to choose from.

I can give you a bit of time on this one if you want.

C: Yeah, five words isn’t a lot.

It doesn’t have to be a sentence, just five separate words.

K: ‘Buy a wristband now’

B: Please.

C: ‘Buy a wristband now please’.

Team effort

J: I feel like I didn’t get involved at all.

B: You could leave us to think of another one, but I can’t see us getting any further than that.

Well that’s it then, thank you very much.

K: No problem, happy to be of service.

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