After a long service to the Student Union, having worked both behind the bar and as a DJ for two years prior to his role as Director of Events and Services (DoES), Chris MacRae is now approaching the end of his Sabbatical position. Looking back on his term ‘in office’, this report looks towards the pledges made during his successful election campaign, and compares them with his own current thoughts and achievements.
Famously promising an act to rival that of Pink Floyd for the opening of St Andrews’ first club, it is clear that Mr MacRae set the bar remarkably high when applying to be DoES. Unfortunately, students were not treated to the reformation of Oasis or resurrection of several Beatles’ members as they were pledged.
Nonetheless, Mr MacRae’s coordination of Freshers’ week turned out to be a financial success, improving upon the record set by the previous incumbent Leon O’Rourke.
Keeping drink prices low is a staple of the DoES position, and this pledge to do so could have been seen on any previous manifesto. Mr MacRae has fought the inflation of drinks prices, particularly that of Tenants to £2.60 by pledging to make the money back through “events and busy bars”. Mr MacRae has been successful and keeping the drink prices low, as they remain the most competitive in St Andrews.
Following through on one of his manifesto promises, in Week 4 of Semester one a ‘Drink of the Week’ was introduced to provide discounted drinks at the Union. Whilst a good policy, many students are unaware that it existed and thus could not take advantage of the deal. This unfortunately has not been carried through into the second semester.
Mr MacRae states “the unfortunate passing of the bar manager, Sandy, has halted this process slightly in second semester – but I will be continuing operations with new manager George to bring back ‘Drink of the Week’ deals as soon as possible”.
When applying to the position of DoES, Mr MacRae stated that “music is perhaps my biggest passion”. It is safe to say that we have had no shortage of diversity in genres, ranging from a very cheesy ABBA tribute to grime, as well as ceilidhs in both Freshers’ and Refreshers’ weeks.
There has also been the welcome return of RockSoc. Having unfortunately been removed to Rascals in recent years, Mr MacRae has successfully followed through on his pledge to give them space back in the Union in the form of Sandy’s Bar.
It would appear that throughout his time as DoES, Mr MacRae has had a somewhat ‘hit and miss’ result when it comes to Union events. Refreshers week kicked off on a high, with smaller events such as the Mànran Folk Concert and Ceilidh eclipsing all we love about Scottish culture.
However, larger performances – such as Wiley were a bitter disappointment for many students, a unanimous low for Refreshers’ and a setback for the Union’s events.
The controversy over The Bop being renamed “P.U.L.L.” (and then subsequently reversed) also remains a blight on Mr MacRae’s performance. Causing discomfort to many students and widespread debate in the university, it was an issue that could have easily been avoided given proper thought.
Although, Refreshers’ did ultimately prove to be considered a success, it is beset by Mr MacRae’s decision to promote artists such as Wiley and Big Narstie, with whom the typical St Andrews’ student is unfamiliar with.
In his manifesto, a key policy of Mr MacRae’s was an increased focus on daytime events. He desired the Union as an alternative space to the ground floor of the library for those who want to meet for social and entertainment purposes in the day. As part of this offer, regular events would be held, with board game and video game tournaments mentioned.
Although Mr MacRae has rarely implemented such daytime activities, he states that “too much activity during the day would disturb the many students using our facilities as an alternative to the busy library”.
He is correct in this regard, a brief walk into the Main Bar during the day shows how well used it is by people studying and eating following the implementation of various new food options at the Union.
The Saint’s Assessment
Having a Sabbatical role can be a daunting task. When asked what he believed was his greatest achievement as DoES, Mr MacRae stated that that it was both Freshers’ and Refreshers’ week.
Both being a financial success, Freshers’ week breaking the previous record, and BOP having the highest turnout since 2012 – Mr MacRae can proudly look back on his time in office.
Although, in terms of student satisfaction with the events he has provided, his performance can largely be characterised as ‘hit and miss’. Mr MacRae has fulfilled many of his manifesto promises, and has been an effective coordinator and implementer of the Union PR and Marketing Team which has helped to make the position a financial success.