Chris MacRae cutout
Credit: The Saint

Chris MacRae, director of events and services elect, has been suspended from working in the Union either as a DJ or behind the bar.

This action was taken at a disciplinary meeting following an incident which involved breaking Union rules on drinking alcohol whilst DJing.

Mr MacRae, who is part of DJ duo NELFUN with friend Cameron Bell, explained what happened to The Saint. He said that the pair did not have a contract for DJing with the Union, although he does have a Union contract as a member of the bar staff.

Mr Bell told The Saint: “We were not technically fired from DJing since we did not have a contract, we were politely asked not to come back.”

Mr MacRae said that on every previous occasion, they had been allowed to drink whilst DJing as long as it was not near the equipment and was not to excess. However, on Wednesday 8 April, a message was passed down from senior management that they were not to drink at all. Each had one beer, he said, but stopped after this, following warnings.

Mr MacRae stated that he did not drink after this, but that Mr Bell went to the bar with a friend. He was then banned from returning to the decks and Mr MacRae continued alone. Having had quite a lot to drink, however, Mr Bell came back to attempt to DJ. His intoxication led to mistakes being made and the music cutting out, bringing the pair to the attention of management. Having ignored their warnings, they were called in for disciplinary actions.

Although he himself did not continue to drink, Mr MacRae said that it was “a stupid mistake” to let Mr Bell come back to the decks. Mr Bell admitted that he had deliberately drunk more because he had been told not to.

Mr Bell said: “I think the rules should have been clearer. Apparently there has always been a no drinking rule for DJs but a previous DJ duo ‘Tallent and Droscher’ had their drinks subsidised by the bar. A DJ contract would definitely clear up any confusion.

“Additionally, on several occasions we were asked to come in and DJ with less than 30 minutes of notice (due to miscommunications), sometimes when we were already on nights out. Once, when [Mr MacRae] and I were working behind the bar the arranged DJ never showed up and we had to step in and cover. When he finally showed up two hours late (drunk and smelling of weed) we were asked to step down.

“We never got paid for the DJing or the bar work that night. So if our bosses aren’t professional with us, how can they expect us to be? But from working for the Union for the last 18 months I have come to expect this lack of organisation and consistency.”

Mr MacRae is confident that this will not impact upon him taking up the role of DoES. He stated that when in the job, he would make sure DJ contracts are introduced.

Mr Bell thinks that DJs should be allowed to drink, stating that this is the norm in most other establishments and that, “I don’t know why the Union should be any different.”

“I must emphasise that it has to be in moderation,” he continued, “as you are working with expensive equipment and like any job must be professional.”

Mr MacRae also noted that the fact they had been allowed to drink had improved their DJing in the past, making them more involved in the atmosphere.

The pair were the resident DJs for Sinners and were then asked to DJ every Wednesday night. This incident occurred at their first non-Sinners event and Mr MacRae speculated that perhaps they were under Athletic Union rules whilst DJing Sinners and this is what caused the sudden change in policy.

Though they had to cancel their gig at the Union the following Wednesday, they were still allowed to DJ at Big Top Ball which is a Union run event.

A final decision on their suspension will be made when the Union’s general manager David Whitton returns from holiday. The Union’s human resources staff member who deals with disciplinary action, Iain Cupples, declined to comment.

19 COMMENTS

  1. What a crock of nonsense.
    It was always made clear to DJs that consuming alcohol while volunteering at events was not OK – when we had Venue One, there were even signs on the stage and the Ents Crew regularly reminded this pair, and were regularly ignored.

    The bar has not subsidised drinks for our DJs.
    The DJ who showed up “two hours late and smelling of weed” showed up at midnight – the time he was booked to arrive – and wasn’t smelling of weed.
    You wouldn’t expect to be paid for volunteering to DJ – otherwise it’s not volunteering. No member of the Ents Crew are paid, and none of them have any kind of contract but still have rules to ensure the safety of themselves and of each and every member of the public in attendance.
    DJ Contracts are already a thing following incidents like this.
    It’s absolutely not the norm that, in other establishments, you are allowed to drink while working.
    This incident was also not a non-Sinners event, It wouldn’t have been the pair’s “first non-Sinners event” even if that were true.

    This entire interview is pretty disrespectful of the hard work that people put in to making every event happen.
    Chris’s attitude stinks, and I’m surprised he hasn’t realised just how much this jeopardises his working relationship with the subcommittees and Union staff who really make the Union tick.
    But anyone with any interest in how the Students Association works knew that when we decided not to vote for him, right? Oh, wait.

    • Currently working in 15+ nightclubs across Scotland (Including two student unions) I can confirm that DJs being allowed to consume alcohol in moderation is in fact normal.

        • DJ gear in booths in any reasonable club costs about that, and no self respecting club restricts drinking in the booth, just not over the decks.

          • I think it’s quite clear in the article that the DJs have been drinking on their set- given the environment of the Union DJ booths, they WERE drinking behind/over the decks.

    • ‘The bar has not subsidised drinks for our DJs’ – as a union staff member I can confirm that the majority of entertainment acts that are brought in by the union have access to their own tab, which is then paid off by the union.

      With regards to your comment about volunteering and not expecting to be paid – no, the ents take up their roles on the knowledge that they are volunteering. The union DJs are paid for their work and so when they are asked to step in and ‘volunteer’ their time when the DJ does not show up, they can’t expect to do it for free.

      And once again, as a union staff member, I feel that you have little right to represent the opinions of the entirety of the staff. Although I respect that everybody is entitled to their own opinion, unfortunately I can’t see past your snide remarks about Chris MacRae and therefore cannot take them too seriously. Chris is incredibly passionate about his role as DoES and has already shown an active engagement with the committees and students that he will be working with next year – before the official commencement of his time as DoES. So please try to respect that Chris MacRae is only human like the rest of us – aside from this insignificant incident, he is a great asset to the union.

      • Basically you are saying, that Union has the rule, and “as a union staff member” you can confirm that there are people breaking rules, so Mr MacRae has done nothing wrong.

        No matter whether there are written policies about DJ drinking, Nelfun has been told not to drink on their set throughout the year. DJ contract has been introduced– exactly due to Nelfun’s behaviour.

        Nelfun is not Union DJ, hence unfortunately not contracted to the Union, as they are paid by the AU. Union DJs are volunteers and they are also aware the fact that they don’t get paid.

        But my point being– yes he is a nice person, yes he is passionate about the job, but since he is blaming Mr Bell and the Union and act as if he does nothing wrong, how would you trust him to hold accountable for other things? If he actually thinks that he does nothing wrong, well it’s even worse.

      • To be fair, there’s a fairly significant difference between a pre-negotiated rider, that comes out the services budget, and subsidised booze for T&D, which we didn’t do.

        Of course, we are all entitled to different opinions and I wouldn’t want to say I represent the opinions of any of the other Union Staff (and other commenters here either), but the engagement Chris is showing seems in my experience to be a little less than active within the subcommittees.

  2. “But from working for the Union for the last 18 months I have come to expect this lack of organisation and consistency.”

    Nail on the head. I’ve worked in the Union for two years and the lack of organisation and consistency is beyond laughable sometimes.

    Suspended for drinking one beer? The Union have just lost a great DJ duo loved by many.

  3. This is a hilarious case of libel on all parts. MacRae’s indication that “he is not surprised by the lack of professionalism” is so ironically indicative of his future as DoES-elect that it is causing my LITERAL pain while reading this in the library.

    I hope that beyond him getting taken off the decks (and thus preventing a bombardment of the Union with shite tunes [more than normal]) the Union considers revoking his elected position as his naivety is thoroughly reflected in this article.

    TLDR: The DoES-elect slanders The Union, the Ents, Sinners, etc all in one attempt! This is basically an article you might find in The Sinner, but it’s actually all true…

    • Perhaps read the article properly and don’t attribute quotes to the wrong person?
      Maybe that would help ease some of the pain you are currently experiencing…

      • People like you ease my pain insofar as they continue to expose the incompetence, immaturity, and insecurity of the student population as prophetic of the repetitively lacklustre SABBs.

  4. NAEFUN the Sinner joke is a good one.

    I really like the way that the Saint does not fact check, and taking stories from one side for facts– very professional press behaviour.

    The focus has been deviate from the point here. I don’t care whether DJ drinks, as long as they behave well after consuming, or keep the glasses away so that you don’t damage the equipments or split them causing 1500 people evacuations.

    If it’s Union policy, you are told off for the first time and you should never do it again. Other people break the rules doesn’t mean that you can.

    My problem is really, despite Nelfun being a DJ duo and they are friends, MacRae was blaming his partner for the disciplinary action. He also tried to accuse the Union policies and management, with LIES.

    It appears to me that he is trying to blame other people to get rid of his responsibilities on this matter, regardless the times that they have been told not to drink on set since the beginning of the year due to a series of UNPLEASANT EVENT followed by they DJing under influence.

    Hence my question is, if you have been disciplined for drinking on the set, i.e., the thing that you have been told not to do, just apologise and make sure you never do it again. Why are you blaming other people to get away with it? Especially Mr Bell is your partner and the Union is where you will be work for/with in the future.

    I just suspect that whether Mr MacRae would not be accountable enough to maintain the operations of the Union when coming into office, while jeopardising his relationship with all the people he will work with in the future.

    Love the drama

  5. I confess as a DJ in the union I have partaken and even whilst acting as an ent. Zero tolerance is too far in my opinion but we’ve had to deal with several djs smashed out of their minds ruining the night for everyone. DJ contracts are an obvious step and a positive one and with hopefully help the black hole of information that is union management, the sabbs and the subcommittees somewhat.

  6. Perhaps some context is required to explain some of the logic behind the Union’s approach her, though this is based on my own extensive experience within the Union and is not anyone’s interpretation but my own.

    Our Union desires to give student’s relative freedom in the events they run however it must maintain the safety and reputation of the Union, students and staff alike. As such some of the changes in policy, which may deviate from the industry norm, arise due to the actions of individuals not being responsible with the trust that has been placed upon them.

    Such examples could include, the policy of not having drinks, of any sort, near the DJ equipment was a direct result of a society spilling beer over equipment and not informing any staff or the Ents Crew. Accidents occur but this equipment remained beer soaked until the next morning which meant extensive damage to the equipment. If it had been reported at the time, replacements could have been provided and the damage to the equipment possibility limited. However, unfortunately this didn’t occur and so it was decided that a no liquids rule would be implemented.

    This is similar to how the no drinking rule occurred. I personally can appreciate how a few drinks may relax nerves and help DJs connect more with their audience and for several years there was no issue with this. However, more recently some DJs did not appreciate where the line was and became too drunk to DJ, usually causing issues like those described above by Mr Bell, and in other cases having to be replaced at short notice. As no-one can predict which DJs will be respectful of this freedom and people’s opinion of “too much to drink” varies, it was decided that a no alcohol policy would be implemented for anyone on the stage and therefore related to well-being of the event.

    The no alcohol policy has been in place for several years regarding individuals that hire equipment from the Union however it is a relatively new development for non-society events i.e. those which are more directly handled by The Ents Crew and the DoES.
    In regards to bar tabs, there has never, to my knowledge, been a student DJ with a bar tab covered by the Union as this has not been the policy of the Entertainments department.
    The only instance a bar tab would be arranged would be for External DJs which have pre-arranged riders, and in these situations bar tabs are extremely rare as usually drinks are requested for the dressing room and as such are purchased in advance.

    The types of DJs within the Union cover many different categories and the implementation of a contract would have to reflect this. There is a difference between a DJ from the Ents Crew, who is a volunteer, and a student DJ that has been approached by the AU (for Sinners) or the bar, who may expected to be paid if this has been arranged prior to the event. It has always been in the DJ’s best interest to confirm if they are being paid or not prior to the event and I know of only a few instances that this has not occurred and disputes have arisen.

    I feel that ensuring all students involved in events at the Union should know the standards expected of them, regardless of if they are a DJ, an organiser, an actor, a model, a comedian or a volunteer. Our Union invests resources in ensuring students are able to host the events they want and are able to go to events which they know will be held safely and professionally. In order to ensure this continues regular updates to policies have been implemented. Most of these policies are presented to the students however I’m sure efforts to make them clearer and more accessible will always be welcomed.

  7. Amateurs, shambolic, disorganised, immature, I could go on….. sums up students and the students union in a nutshell !

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