King’s Bunker: Behind Closed Doors

Ashley Chhibber 31 October 2013

The re-launched King’s Bunker – Cambridge’s ‘newest’ venue – has been forced to restrict access to non-King’s students following conflicts both within the committee and with King’s College and its student union (KCSU).

The venue was closed in 2009, until which point it was a key student venue. However, recent attempts to revitalise the space have been stymied by opposition from college authorities.

The internal problems facing the Bunker were first brought to public attention after a meeting between the KCSU Executive Body and the Chair and Treasurer of the Bunker committee. Although the accuracy of the minutes has been called into question by many of the attendees, they revealed a supposed “breakdown in communications” between the parties involved.

Spending on sound systems, performers and artwork was not authorised until after purchases had been made. Overspend resulting from this has been estimated to be between £1,000 and £2,500 over the last year, with the higher figure coming from the Treasurer. This inspired stricter control over the Bunker on the part of both KCSU and King’s College.

Charlie, the outgoing chair of the Bunker committee and self-styled ‘Bunker King’, told The Cambridge Student that the first event this term “was, to be honest, far too crazy… [Something] like 400 people turned up, and College got really scared again and nearly shut it down.” As a result measures were brought in to cut down opening hours, raise drinks prices and, crucially, restrict access to students from other colleges. Discussions on this are still ongoing.

When asked by TCS to explain the reasons behind the increased restrictions, the Domus Bursar declined to comment. Similar measures were introduced at Queens’ last year following an incident at a bop. Now all attendees are required to sign in with their guests.

Ruairi O’Donoghue, newly appointed Bunker Treasurer, told TCS: “Unfortunately, the restriction on outside-King’s members hurts the atmosphere, but we’re working on building enthusiasm inside college to remedy this.”

Emily, a third year at Trinity Hall, expressed disappointment at the restrictions: “We need more places like King’s that cater for those that don’t want to continue to pretend that they enjoy 30-second clips of ‘The Circle of Life’. It’ll be such a shame if King’s decides to get all exclusive.”

Yet Charlie was quick to dismiss this as a problem: “Officially King’s members can bring two guests. I want to emphasise, people from outside College can come, and College are getting less strict. I’m doing all I can.”

Asked whether autonomy from KCSU is still an issue, Charlie replied: “I don’t care about the politics of it. I just want to run parties… It’s half a job done. I need it to be a regular thing; I need it to be good again.”

O’Donoghue, however, takes a more cautious view: “The Mingles [end-of-term parties] are always important, but maintaining financial viability as well as keeping college and KCSU off our backs is vital.”

This article was edited on 24/11/14 to redact the names of some of those involved in the incidents described.