The University of Portsmouth’s Freshers’ Week made national news recently as images of students enjoying themselves were aggressively plastered across tabloid pages.
The night in question was the first week of ‘Dirty Disco’ at The Astoria, a weekly event at the nightclub that is put on every Tuesday by promoters Eskimo 11.
One such article posted by the Mirror used the night’s slogan ‘Don’t tell Daddy’, while another tabloid website stole a video from the UPSUTV Youtube channel from the 2012/13 academic year, in an attempt to portray the entirety of the evening as ‘chaotic’.
The articles purportedly aimed to expose students’ brash spending of both their government loans and parent’s money. The newspapers then used photos to further illustrate the supposed feckless spending by irresponsible students .
Although most of the photos used will certainly not come as a shock to the average fresher, the pictures of several students being violently sick and publicly urinating were clearly used to evoke angry indignation from some of the tabloids more sententious readership.
“I felt that the article was unfair, it was taken completely out of context”
Employees who work for Eskimo 11 came under particular public scrutiny. Pictures of several promoters, wearing leotards with the slogan ‘Don’t Tell Daddy’ were printed in both The Sun and the Mirror and were taken from particularly embarrassing angles.
Newspaper The Daily Mail accompanied their picture with the headline: “So what WOULD your fathers say, girls?”, in a moralist attempt to ‘slut-shame’ the young women who were simply doing their jobs.
Speaking to The Tab, one of the women said: “The job is a lot of fun, it’s like a family and they all really look out for each other. It’s not shady or sleazy, it’s simply girls being confident and loving they’re job! I think those who think it’s anything other than positive needs to stop living in the past and get with the times!”
Supervisor at the Astoria nightclub, Emma Rossiter, 20, said of the articles: “I felt that the article was unfair. The girls are hired to help promote the event and as someone who work as a bar supervisor at the club where the event is held I felt it was completely taken out of context.”
Rossiter, a third year journalism student and Vice President of Dance, went on to say: “The dirty disco girls are doing a job to promote the event, they are some of my friends and I know that they are promoting nothing more than a night out.
“Student nights across the country are called a whole host of things and dirty disco is Portsmouth’s signature Tuesday night, it’s always busy and always a good time.”
The Galleon also spoke to the President of the University of Portsmouth’s Student Union, James Belmonte, and the Vice President for Welfare and Community, Beth Moody, about the issues discussed. It was made clear by both that there is an open dialogue between the Students Union and Eskimo 11.
Belmonte said: “We’re here for the student’s welfare and we’re all on the same page in that respect.”
Moody has had first hand access to the welfare provisions of Eskimo and, as a result, the Students Union and Eskimo has been working together by building on past work and relationships to further improve the welfare of students.
Away from the social nights out during freshers week, the week also encompasses opportunities such as the Freshers’ Fayre and the chance to join societies. Aside from the evening drinking sessions, the Union has also championed non-drinking events.
This year’s events have been particularly successful, with a huge footfall at the Fayre each day and many students getting involved with the union.
Speaking about the ‘give-it-a-go’ session, Moody said: “We’ve had really fantastic feedback from our give-it-a-go session where we’ve been bowling, we went to Playzone, Flipout and we’ve done dance sessions, [and] loads of different free events.”
The main element of each of these freshers events were that they were non-drinking events. Moody explained that: “It makes it more inclusive to everyone.”
As a result, the University of Portsmouth’s freshers week had something for everyone. The President added: “Yes we promote the Freshers’ Packs but you have got to give people an alternative too.”
For the majority of students, the scenes captured by the tabloids will be of no surprise. However, the shock of seeing fellow students being exposed on camera so easily is what has made such an impact.
Yet, for all the tabloids exaggerated exposure of a number of isolated incidents, the benefits of Freshers’ nights in Portsmouth far outweigh the piles of sick or kebab boxes left behind. While mess can quite easily be cleaned up, the friends and memories made on a night-out can often last a life time.