Flooding, queues and sex dolls: ArcSoc event under fire

Stevie Hertz 5 November 2015

The Architecture Society of Cambridge University (ArcSoc) has been criticised for the ‘‘failure’’ of its most recent event: ‘‘Metamorphosis’’, organised with Turf. In a review of the event for The Cambridge Student, Olivia Fletcher said that she was ‘‘shocked at the lack of organisation and value for money’’ of the event as a whole.

Fletcher complained of having to queue for 90 minutes, despite guests having paid between £10 and £25 pounds for the event. She also lamented the ‘‘flooded and unusable toilet.’’ Fletcher ends her review by saying that ‘‘after a devastatingly dissapointing night I think I speak for many when I say, I would like a full refund for my ticket and for ArcSoc to return to its former glory as a student society run in the interest of funding their own pursuits, not as a glimmering accessory to Turf’s commercial gain.’’

The Tab branded the event a ‘‘failure’’ and reported ‘‘horrendously long queues’’ as well as ‘‘flooded toilets’’ and ‘‘misogynistic mannequins.’’ Varsity have not reviewed the event. The event was held in the city council’s Guildhall building. The sight of naked inflatable ‘sex dolls’ hanging in the windows could be seen by passers-by, including children out trick-or-treating. 

Speaking to Cambridge News, Cambridge Live, the charity in charge of the Guildhall conference and event management, said: “Cambridge Live is responsible for the hiring out of the physical spaces in the Guildhall with the content of the evening in question organised by the University Architecture Society, including the arranging of security. ‘‘We will be doing a full review with the organisers to understand and pick up any issues about the evening, including the positioning of items visible from outside the building.”

Kate McAleer, president of ArcSoc, defended the decorations by saying that ‘‘any sexual or misogynistic connotations which people associate with them are products of the harmful patriarchal society in which we live.’’ She continued: ‘‘We feel that ArcSoc succeeded in its specific role – transforming a venue with creative and sometimes subversive decorations and offering an alternative to the monotony of usual Cambridge nightlife. We have received a lot of positive feedback and believe that the majority of people in attendance enjoyed the event.

‘‘Of course we take the allegation that the night was a failure seriously, but rather feel that ArcSoc, as well as the minority who didn’t enjoy the night, were failed by the various other parties involved in running an event on this scale. I would also like to make clear that ArcSoc had 0% involvement with running the afterparty, which was an exclusively turf managed event.’’