Health and safety inspectors have closed St Peter’s college bar after "significant failings" were unearthed during the summer, leading to the bar manager’s departure.
The bar, which was managed by the College rather than the JCR, failed a random health and safety inspection during the summer vacation and has subsequently been declared a health hazard, unfit to serve food and drink to students.
Its closure prompted the departure of the manager, Nick Tilley, who declined to comment and is now working at St John’s College.
The College’s Domestic Bursar, Jean Wright, also refused to comment.
Members of the JCR have taken matters into their own hands to ensure that its closure will not have a negative impact on Freshers’ Week by setting up a temporary bar until it reopens in January next year.
One third-year St Peter’s student criticised the College’s neglect of the bar, accusing them of "seriously neglecting their responsibilities by allowing the bar to become, and continue to be, unfit to serve students."
Another student at St Peter’s added, "This raises questions about why the College allowed the bar to get into such a state."
St Peter’s JCR President, Joel Mullan, agreed that the situation had resulted from negligence on the part of the College, but was positive that a temporary student-run bar would provide a satisfactory solution.
"The bar should not have been allowed to reach this stage of disrepair, and it’s unfortunate that these problems were not discovered earlier so that the work could have been completed during the vacation. Whilst a temporary bar is not ideal, we are making the best of a bad situation."
Despite the temporary solution, third-year student Matthew Sherman said he felt that the bar’s closure would still have a negative impact on Freshers’ Week. "The bar was a big part of the social life of the College, so this is a shame for all of us, but especially the freshers. The bar was certainly important for me in my early days at Oxford for meeting people and settling in," he said.
During Freshers’ Week, the temporary bar will be located in a marquee on the College’s Hannington Quad, before being moved to a small room between the St Peter’s JCR and gym.
Second-year St Peter’s student Kris Doyle, who is helping to run the temporary bar, is confident that the disruption to new students’ social lives will be minimal. "While the closure of the bar was unexpected it will not prove to be a problem. A dedicated group of students have rallied to ensure that there will be a college bar of some description and that the freshers will still have the same opportunity to get drunk as generations of previous St Peter’s students," he said.
"Far from being an outright negative, this turn of events has brought many of the current students together in order to preserve an essential part of college life and ensure that the new students feel the same sense of community spirit that the rest of us felt in our first few days."When the bar re-opens in January after renovation, it will be managed by students at St Peter’s.