Is upholding tradition costing the involvement of disabled students?
November marks disability history month, a time to recognise and raise awareness for all types of disabilities, visible or not, and the issues they may face. In light of this, the annual Daft Friday ticket queue got me thinking about accessibility.
Daft Friday (arguably the biggest event in the academic calendar) with its black-tie dress code, undisclosed mysterious theme, and 12-hour party, is sure to be a night to remember. After the cancellation of the event last year due to Covid restrictions, this year campus was abuzz with who was going to attempt the all-night queue for the much sought-after tickets, when they should go, and what to bring. I was keen to queue this year. As a fourth year, it would have been my last chance to attend, so I thought why not? However, a few days before the much-anticipated queue, I was floored by what can only be described as a cold on steroids and was pretty much out of action all week. Waiting for hours upon hours outside in November to grab a ticket seemed like the least appealing thing, knowing I’d have an awful time as I just was not feeling well enough to attend. In all honesty, I think I would find queuing outdoors all night tough even if I was feeling 100 percent well.
I had a couple of people very kindly willing to source a ticket on my behalf, which ended up falling through as people spotted the hundreds of eager students camped out in the very early hours of the morning and decided it was probably going to be a fruitless attempt. As I sat at home, coughing up a lung, living vicariously through the social media group chats and stories of the happenings in the queue, I couldn’t help but think of students who also wanted to attend, but who wouldn’t have had the option, even if they didn’t have this mutant cold attacking their immune systems.
“I sat at home, coughing up a lung, living vicariously through the social media group chats and stories of the happenings in the queue…”
My observation is that attendance at Daft Friday seems based upon who is able to camp out the longest to beat the crowds. I know, it is part of the “experience” and I fully understand wanting to uphold traditions. But another part of me also feels for students who want to get involved in uni highlights like this, but they just aren’t accessible to them. Unless they can stay up, outside in November temperatures, and on a pavement all night, which is difficult even for those without disability-related issues, let alone people who suffer with chronic pain or mobility struggles.
“Attendance at Daft Friday seems based upon who is able to camp out the longest to beat the crowds…”
If online learning during Covid taught us anything, it’s that online access is crucial for accessibility when various disabilities can prevent people from being physically present on campus. When you think about it, every other event nowadays is on a first come first served basis online, such as concerts or festivals. I do wonder why this couldn’t be done for Daft Friday. Open ticket sales online in the morning, and this means those with accessibility requirements can have a better shot at getting a ticket. I respect that people would be unhappy with this and would still want to queue as that’s part of the fun. Maybe both options for sourcing tickets could be made available to satisfy everyone. But then maybe it isn’t the same knowing you don’t actually have to camp out anymore.
Honestly, I don’t have an answer that will fully solve this issue. But what I do know, is that keeping the overnight queues instead of online ticket sales, does perhaps see tradition being prioritised at the expense of less able-bodied people’s involvement.
If we could guarantee a friend could get a ticket for us that would be great. But as I experienced first-hand, this doesn’t always go to plan. Realistically if you want a ticket, the only way to know for sure you will get one, is to queue yourself. Or be on a committee that gets tickets held for them, but again, disabled students shouldn’t have to commit to working at the event or working on committees throughout the year to be able to get involved.
We all deserve to get involved in fun uni experiences, and for Glasgow students, Daft Friday is definitely a huge one. After seeing the accessible changes so many disabled students had been needing for years suddenly able to be made during Covid, I think social events shouldn’t be an exception.