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Freshers fortnight at Derby is full of clubs. Clubs. And clubs. It’s disappointing for someone like me who doesn’t drink.

I tried freshers in my first year, attending as many socials as I possibly could, try to meet people, make friends but I quickly learned my aim and the aim of everyone else was different.

I’d enter whatever venue the event was being held, push past crowds of people – all having fun in their own way (some maybe too much for the public eye). Beams of colours would flash between my eyes, dazzling me: blue, orange, red, green, yellow – all in time with the music. I’d head to the bar and order orange juice, but because of the volume of noise, ended up typing my order on my phone, then weave to a table hoping I’d not be knocked or bumped into. My balance isn’t that good.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to socialise, I really really did, but I wanted to socialise with sober people. Not people who had no idea what they were saying or wouldn’t remember what they did when they woke up the next morning. It was awkward being surrounded by drunk people when you were sober. I had people approach me, encourage me to drink, but I just didn’t want to, and I still don’t.

Unfortunately, this is what most freshers events are like. Don’t get me wrong, they do have events for none-drinkers, like quiz night, freshers fair (although this is during the day), comedian night, intu lockdown and family fun day but they are few and far between. All the other events are not suitable if you want to have a good time without pouring down an alcoholic drink.

I don’t think the university does it on purpose, but both years, I felt excluded from freshers because most the events were alcohol-heavy. It’s like being an outcast before you even start. This is an issue that also runs into some societies and SU events after freshers too. In my first year, I joined Dumbledore’s Army, went to a social and the drinks tailored to the theme, like Liquid Luck and Draught of  Living Death were alcoholic. They didn’t have any mocktails for the theme so I had to ask the bar to make me a mocktail and put it in the couldron-themed cup. While the bar staff were happy to do that, it didn’t have the same affect as it did not have a name like the cocktails did. I know it’s just a name and it sounds silly, but when you’re the only one – it’s hard to feel like part of the group.

This is separate but worth noting as this one club venue seems to be a popular choice. Revolution has no disabled access, my friend and I, both disabled, went to revolution because the society Cakes and Cocktails (mocktails) were holding a social event. I hadn’t paid for my membership yet, wanting to try it out first, but my friend did. Revolution has no disabled access. I went in, leaving my friend outside to see if there was, but there wasn’t. I asked the bar staff where Cake and Cocktails were, they were upstairs. The staircase narrow with a handrail on one side. I talked to the society, explained the situation, that my friend cannot access the building and I cannot manage stairs well, I didn’t sign up but I hoped their next social  would be accessible for my friend. The next social was in Revolution.

The society has since been closed down as it had received quite a numerous amount of complaints and it is in the student union and university rules that a society should be accessible. So please, if you run a society this year, don’t hold it in Revolution (what an ironically poor-fitting name).

Side-note to new students that drive, the road leading to Revolution has a bus lane that sneaks up on you and is a 30 pound fine.

I did buy another freshers ticket last year but came down with a heavy case of freshers flu before any of the events happened so was bedridden for the two weeks (at least in the evenings anyway) but the general feeling I got from people talking about freshers was that it was worse than my first year. I’m grateful for the events the students do have at freshers that aren’t based around getting drunk, but they are very few and far between and don’t really involve socialising with people. Maybe if they added events that happened at the same time as the clubs but were not focused on drinking and getting drunk, freshers would be better.  This year I’m not buying any freshers tickets. There’s no point.

I’m hoping to hang around more with my classmates and friends, make our own events and be around people I trust who won’t force me to drink even if they are (please don’t let me get freshers flu again, please).

Update: I haven’t got freshers flu and my flatmate and I get along well, staying in and watching TV together, it is great.


  1. A very insightful blog post. I am surprised that the uni does not have as its policy for student union clubs that meetings have to be in accessible venues. Do you have a student rep you could raise this with?

    I can identify with the wanting to socialize with sober people as well. I come from Norway where the drinking culture is very different. I knew that ‘the pub’ was a part of British social life before I came here to do my degree, but I really had a culture shock when I came here. Just how accessible it was, sold in off licences and supermarkets and very cheaply in the student unions. And how much marketing there was for alcohol as well! Even at Christmas:O

    For perspective: In Norway anything above 12% is sold in government shops open Monday-Friday 9 to 5, Saturdays 9 to 1, Sundays everything is closed. Beer and ciders are sold in grocery stores between 8am and 8pm weekdays, 8am to 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays everything is closed. A pint of beer costs on average £8 and it’s illegal to advertise for alcohol.

    I found the drinking culture a bit overwhelming to be honest and didn’t take part in any of the fresher’s activities that involved going out.


    1. Thanks for your comment. Just to make it clear the University does have a policy that venues should be accessible – the committee of societies are run by students so students ignored this rule. They’re no longer a society so I assume the university closed them down after my first year at uni. It probably shouldn’t have taken that long, but at least the issue was resolved in one way or another. 🙂


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