Students and alumni have expressed their disappointment and anger about the joint Somerville-Jesus ball, with one alumni ticket holder saying he felt “monumentally ripped off”.
The Ball President, Samuel Levin, declined to give a comment to Cherwell.
The ball has already attracted attention in the national media following animal rights protests which condemned plans to have a live shark at the ball. The shark was subsequently dropped from the programme.
The food in particular caused problems. One stall, serving a hog roast, was arranged for 900 guests and the vegetarian halloumi option ran out early. One Jesus student told Cherwell that this meant that “many were stuck with only lettuce wraps for the whole night”.
Yoon Hur, a Jesus student spoke to Cherwell complaining about “an outrageously long and dangerous queue for food.”
Clara Collyns, Head of Gastronomy at the ball, declined to comment.
Amidst long queues, frustrated ball-goers in the crowd pushed forward, forcing those at the front into the roast. At least one attendee suffered minor burns, with others’ clothes being damaged and singed in the fray.
The ball was billed as ‘The Last Ball; one last night of decadence, debauchery, and indulgence.’ Many on the ball’s Facebook event page posted comments such as “a night of debauchery and hunger” and “if a pork roll followed by a violent scrum constitutes a gastronomic experience, Nando’s should be expecting several rosettes soon”.
Recently, the Ball’s Facebook page was shut down. Hur stated “the Facebook page [was] our only forum to express our views…we all saw the hard work that was put in, but the way the committee has tried to just sweep the issue under the rug in the face of so much discontent is extremely discouraging.”
One Jesus finalist argued it was a Ball President’s responsibility to “come clean and account for the cock-up if he was also going to be able to rely on its credits on his CV.”
Aside from issues with catering, the entertainment provisions also disappointed some. Although they appeared on the advertisements, Clean Bandit and Cancun Kid did not perform at the ball. Cancun Kid cancelled shortly before the ball began, though Clean Bandit cancelled six weeks in advance. Attendees were notified of this via the ball’s Facebook page. One student called it “a severe skew on the advertising, which veered dangerously on the side of being absolutely false”.
Other entertainment included shisha and a maze. However, the indoor maze was described as “disappointingly short” by one ball-goer “only lasting three minutes”.
The price of the ball has also been criticised as being “unprecedented.” Tickets were priced at £110 for students and £150 for alumni, which was an increase from the £85 paid at the previous Somerville-Jesus ball in 2010.
One student, remaining anonymous, compared the ball unfavourably with Exeter’s ball, which had magicians, caricaturists, photo booths, dodgems, a casino and nearly five different food stalls for £59. “[W]e have been given very little information or justification as to why we were paying near-Commemoration Ball prices for one resulting in far less amenities for a ball of half the price,” he said.
However, those who complained also wanted to recognise the hard work the ball committee has put in over the past few months. Hur added “We all still express our immense gratitude to the members who had to run around on duty all night instead of being able to enjoy the results of their work.”
She also told Cherwell, “The ticket collection and queuing system were extremely efficient, the drinks supplies were varied and plentiful, and certain individual committee members were extremely helpful with queries.”
Speaking on behalf of several friends, Hur said that “we were able to have a great night in the end, [but]our memories of the many otherwise highly commendable things about the ball ended up being hugely undermined by the mistakes, and now the irresponsible way they have chosen to respond to our complaints.”
Hur described “a series of well-intentioned attempts to offer us something unique and exciting [which] ended up being a massive miscalculated disaster.”