Hundreds of Oxford students queued for hours on Friday in three different locations to collect their wristbands for Saturday’s Secret Garden ball at St Hugh’s College.
The Ball Committee sent guests an email on Thursday saying they could collect their wristbands either that afternoon at the college entrance, or on Friday from 12-7 PM at Chequers Pub on High Street. But at 2.30 PM on Friday, the manager of the pub, Steve Edwards, asked them to leave.
He said: “I lost about £1,000 of business. I had about ten customers when I usually have about eighty.”
After an hour’s delay, wristband allocation moved to the Vaults and Garden Cafe in Radcliffe Square.
Beth Rugen went to Chequers to get her wristband minutes after the manager asked them to leave. She is currently on crutches following a recent operation.
“They asked me to come back [to Chequers] later so I did, but when I did they said there was nothing they could do. It was very frustrating,” Rugen said.
Rugen said she had to wait until the actual ball to get her wristband, since it would have been impractical for her to walk to the Vaults and Garden Cafe on crutches.
She said: “They let me skip half the queue on the night,” and that “it was a really good ball.”
Merton fresher Georgina Johnson waited for an hour and a half in total, subsequently missing the first hour of her dance lesson.
She said: “It was a bit of a shambles. When they got chucked out of the Vaults and Garden Cafe, we all ran in a massive stampede to the King’s Arms. Loads of my friends missed formal hall.”
On Friday evening the Ball Committee emailed guests to apologise for the long queues. They said: “We hugely underestimated the time it would take to process everyone.”
The Ball Committee allowed guests who were unable to collect a wristband on Friday to collect them at St Hugh’s college between 9 AM and 3 PM on Saturday.
President of the St. Hugh’s Ball Committee, Eleanor Hale, said: “We had no idea it would take that long.
“We probably should have had another laptop, but that would have run a security risk of people joining the queue twice. “If we didn’t [allocate wristbands] on the Friday the queue would have been two to two and a half hours on Saturday.”
She said the committee chose to allow guests to collect their wristbands early due to Saturday’s rainy weather forecast.
Simran Bansal was in charge of food and drink at the Somerville- Jesus ball, which also took place on Saturday.
Bansal said guests were able to collect their wristbands either on Friday at Jesus college, or Saturday at Somerville College.
She said: “When I did it for an hour on Saturday, people queued for five minutes maximum.”