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Were the Union right to ban the burger van? – debate special

Joel Taylor questions the Union of UEA Students motivation to ban the burger van from campus. 

The ban on the Corky’s Event Catering burger van serving on campus on LCR nights has joined a string of other heavy-handed decisions made by the UUEAS seemingly without any consultation of, or thought for, the student population.

On the 22 January 2013, this author wrote on the criticism received by the Union over their boycott of the RBS Natwest group on ethical grounds – which extended to banning the Six Nations rugby from the Union Bar TVs – and the long-running Nestlé boycott which sees Union shops heartbreakingly bereft of KitKats. Criticisms at the time focused on the Union’s willingness to impose the ethics and morals of the council members on all UEA students without actually consulting them – an overbearing attitude which implied they thought us unable to make our own decisions based on individual ethics and viewpoints.

Although all policies adopted by the Union must be voted in again for renewal every three years, members feel unable to challenge the status quo for fear of being seen to side with Natwest or Nestlé or whomever the villain of the day simply by voicing that, perhaps, students are capable of making their own decisions. Although no reason has been given by the Union for the ban, should the Union try and justify it on ‘healthy eating’ grounds one need only point out that, given the amount of alcohol consumption and projectile vomiting on LCR nights, a cheeseburger pales into insignificance.

The short, one-month notice given to Corky’s by the Union has not left them enough time to negotiate a contract elsewhere, resulting in the loss of four jobs directly attributed to the Union’s actions. However, in responding only to the loss suffered by students, the Union Communications Officer Rosie Rawle has pointed out that the new Shop stays open late enough to sell hot food to students attending LCR club night. Students can draw their own conclusions on the motivations of this manoeuvre.

LCR - Laura Smith

Zoe Jones argues that the Union are acting in the overall interests of UEA students.

Although there’s been severe controversy over #burgervangate, after Corky’s burger van has been banned from vending outside the LCR on campus, there has clearly been a one sided attitude. Understandably, there’s some provocation over the jobs lost on behalf of the suffering company – however, in order to come to the Union’s defence, one can only feel that there’s some unspecified benefits of this decision that are worth knowing.

First off and most importantly (judging by the student outcry), the entire campus seems to be under the false impression that we will soon be bereft of post-LCR deliciousness. That’s where we’re wrong. Do not fear, The Shop are now believed to be opening until 2am on respective LCR nights and serving from a burger hatch. So you will not have to replace your hot-dog with a co-op tuna sandwich. Those of you who listen to Livewire 1350AM might have heard that the Albatross show trialled an infamous Shop burger live, and the result was very positive. Though I’m sure plans to boycott the UFO are already in progress, it’s likely that it will be about as successful as the attempt to boycott Starbucks. The burgers are too tasty – give them a chance!

The arrangement that was had with Corky’s was that in order to trade outside the LCR, they were to provide the Union with 10% of the profits. We must not forget that the Union are a charity and have the incredible responsibility to make the lives of UEA students easier. Though the decision to ban the burger van has seriously impacted the workings of an innocent company, we have to selfishly consider the benefits for UEA students. Longer Shop opening hours creates more hours for a student to work, or perhaps even a new position. And of course, the increased profit margin from solely supplying Shop produce means more money fed into the Union and consequently, to us – the hungry students.


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Joel Taylor

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October 2021
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