Purple Radio has launched a petition protesting against restricted opening hours at Dunelm House.
The appeal, featured on the ‘ipetitions’ website, calls for the Union building to remain open until 11pm on Sunday nights, to allow radio programmes to be broadcast.
It attracted 250 signatures in the first 24 hours it was online, and has attracted considerable attention on social media.
The text of the e-petition describes how the Students’ Union cut their opening hours in October 2012, from midnight to 11pm on weekdays, and midnight to 6pm on Saturdays.
Purple Radio were unhappy with this decision, as it resulted in an overall loss of broadcasting hours, despite an extension on Sunday evening.
However, they accepted it “graciously”, and were informed that it was a temporary change due to refurbishment work.
The preamble continues: “In January 2014 we were broadcasting from the Re-Union Fair and attracting further interest from students when were were informed by a member of staff that the Union would now be closing at 6pm on Sunday evenings.
“Durham Students’ Union consulted the other two societies who previously used the building on Sunday evenings, but failed to consider Purple Radio.
“By the time Purple were told this, the executive committee had already worked on new themed specialist music nights, one of which was Sunday, and show applications for the term had already opened.
“Sunday nights in first term had the highest listening figures of any evening, and we have a sponsorship agreement for one particular show that night.”
One student, Joanna Biernat, said that the decision reflected the Union’s “uncompromising attitude towards student initiative”.
Another, Rosie Chandler, commented: “It’s not just Purple Radio that are missing out, other Sunday night societies have had to change to a more inconvenient time and place, Bridge Club to name but one.
“Surely Durham Students’ Union should be working for the students. I have been frustrated on several occasion by the way this organisation is run.”
This recent controversy has increased pressure on student officers, who faced criticism in Michaelmas Term about the introduction of a new
In a joint statement, they said that their decision was part of an attempt to “reduce operating costs”.
“We are always seeking ways to maximise the impact of the limited funding we have available to benefit as much of the student body as possible.
“When investigating the option of closing the building earlier on a Sunday, Purple Radio suggested a compromise of an 8pm closure, rather than 6pm, to which we agreed.”
However, the station said that the decision still prevents three live shows from broadcasting, removing 152 each week in Michaelmas Term.
They added: “Purple Radio has faced numerous setbacks in the past year because of decisions made by the SU: the refusal to distribute publicity materials; the failure to send advertising invoices; and a total of £0 funding for the entire year to give just a few examples.
“Furthermore, they are unable to play Purple Radio in the Union building due to a contract they agreed with ‘Sub TV’ instead. We are therefore, understandably, unhappy and aggravated by this new decision.
“The Students’ Union is a registered charity, with the slogan ‘enabling students’ – a statement that has been proven wrong.”
The officers confirmed that the Union has not agreed to distribute advertising materials, but said that Purple Radio were able to create a group profile on their website to advertise events.
All invoices to advertisers requested by the station had been issued, they said, but the Students’ Union would be happy to investigate any specific examples.
They also explained that applications from student groups exceeded available funds by £11,500. This led the Grant Allocation Funding Committee to decide that Purple Radio – due to its “substantial cash reserves” – could afford to fund the requested equipment from existing resources.