By Tom Taylor, Digital Editor and Maggie Sawant, SU Correspondent
The lead up to Freshers Week can often be stressful as applicants take to social media to plan their uni life. Some companies know how to take advantage of this.
Now going into second year and a familiar face in Epigram, Maggie describes her first impression of coming to University as ‘overwhelming’. ‘From the moment I collected my A-Level results and received the e-mail confirming my place’, she tells me, ‘I was in a daze’. Like many applicants to Bristol University, she was keen to experience the city’s famous nightlife and meet friends in the process.
Inundated with information aimed at soon-to-be Freshers, Maggie came across official and unofficial Facebook groups, pages and chats where students discussed the wristbands they were buying and the club nights they planned on going to.
‘As an extremely naïve Fresher with very limited knowledge of clubs in Bristol’, Maggie admits, ‘I purchased an unofficial wristband, which many students in the Facebook chats had bought, ignoring the Student Union’s warnings not to do so. This was £20 I would never see again’.
Maggie’s story is familiar to the Students Union. ‘A lot of work goes into pulling together the official Bristol SU welcome week programme, and it’s disappointing to see fake events set up by companies who want to profit from our students’, Julio Mkok, the Union Affairs Officer told Epigram.
He went on to say: ‘Last year there were a number of disappointed students who had bought a different wristband and then couldn’t get into Bristol SU events. Don’t get caught out, and when in doubt check with the SU first!’
'...it's disappointing to see fake events set up by companies who want to profit from our students'- Julio Mkok, Union Affairs Officer
Not all of the unofficial groups sell fake tickets. ‘A few weeks after Freshers’, Maggie tells me, ‘I noticed my flatmate wearing a wristband with the same logo as was on the website from which I purchased my wristband.’ ‘He said he had picked it up from a lone man in the street and had used [it] to go to a near-empty Lola Lo’s a few times.’
But the way in which these companies target naïve, eager Freshers seems exploitative. Descriptions in the unofficial ‘Bristol Freshers’ Facebook groups often include phrases such as: ‘It’s essential you register for freshers now to receive information you need for University’ and ‘…its essential you purchase your ticket early – before they sell out!’
Of course, it’s not essential you register for Freshers on a random website. You won’t receive any valuable information that you need for your course. Maggie tells me the best piece of advice she would give Freshers is to ‘not pay attention to what people are suggesting in group chats – if anything, don’t join them’.
'...for students like Maggie, and many others, the marketing choices and language used to sell the tickets seems manipulative'
Unless selling fake tickets, nothing about what these companies and ticket-touts do is illegal. They clearly state in each group that they are not affiliated with the University or the Students Union. However, for students like Maggie, and many others, the marketing choices and language used to sell the tickets seems manipulative.
The Students Union and University advises incoming Freshers to be wary of signing up to mailing lists, submitting personal information to unofficial online forms and people selling tickets who constantly claim the event is about to sell out.
All official SU events and groups will have the word ‘Official’ in the title and include Bristol SU or University of Bristol branding.
Official groups can be found here:
- Freshers Group (there are also some chats which have been set up in this group): https://www.facebook.com/groups/BristolOfficialWelcome2019
- Returning Student Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OfficialBristolUniReturners2019
- Bristol SU Welcome Portal (this is where official wristbands and event tickets will be sold, as well as all the event listings): bristolsu.org.uk/welcome
- University new student pages: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/new/
- Halls groups – All have the word official in the title.
- There will also be welcome week information shared through the main Bristol SU social media channels. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bristolsu/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bristol_su/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Bristol_SU
None of the owners of unofficial Bristol Freshers Facebook groups responded to Epigram's request for comment.
Featured: Unsplash / Aditya Chinchure
Were you affected by unoffical ticket-sellers during Fresher's week? Let us know.