Greg Arrowsmith is a third-year Politics and Economics student, and is one of the two candidates running for the position of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Entertainments (Ents) Officer for the 2021-22 academic term.
The Ents officer is charged with organising social events throughout the term, culminating in the juggernaut that is Trinity Ball, Europe’s largest private party (though most of Trinity Ball, bar marketing and ticketing, is now handled by events organiser MCD). Other notable events organised by Ents include RAG week and Battle of the Bands.
The budget for Ents is approximately €200,000 a year, and it typically returns an income of approximately €210,000/€220,000 a year.
Arrowsmith says the biggest factor behind his decision to run for Ents Officer is that he wants to include all of the college community in the social life of the college. This includes events catering to students who don’t have an interest in binge-drinking, as well as students who might feel excluded by the lack of disability access in nightclubs.
He wishes to see not just those with disabilities included, but also people who felt they “missed the boat” socially when they started college, particularly the students from Dublin or those who did not live in Trinity Hall. In an interview with Trinity News, he added: “I like organising events; I just like doing things efficiently, and I hate seeing things organised poorly. I hate going to an event that’s badly run. When you’ve organised an event well and you see people having fun and enjoying themselves, that’s a nice feeling”.
Arrowsmith pointed to his periods as Social Secretary for the DU Hockey club and Events Secretary for Trinity Sailing as having added to his experience with organising social events. Among the larger events organised by Arrowsmith include the DU Hockey Colours Ball and the ‘S**t Shirt Shindig’. He also referenced an event run between the sailing, hockey and snowsports club in Workman’s Nightclub, in aid of Pieta House. Arrowsmith also took charge of organising Zoom events for freshers in 2020, skills which he joked that he hopefully will not have to use in the 2021-22 academic year.
In September, a petition was launched calling for the position of Ents to be abolished, with four part-time positions taking the place of the former full-time job. Arrowsmith does not believe reform is needed, noting that “Ents can feel quite like a closed shop anyway, One of the requirements for the four sub-positions is that you were on the Ents Committee the year before. I don’t want Ents blocked off to other people who might have relevant and equivalent experience just because they weren’t on the committee”.
Ents has played a role in the political campaigns of the wider SU in the past, including the ‘Rock the Vote’ events held during the same-sex marraige referendum. Differing views on the political role of Ents exist amongst students, with some feeling that TCDSU should not engage or use resources on national or international political campaigns, while others feel that the Union should engage more in political campaigning.
Arrowsmith says he falls between these two camps: “I think they should strike the middle ground, which is in general what is happening. If we are less engaged then that could leave people disenfranchised, but there are other avenues for people to pursue if they want to achieve political change, such as the youth wing of a political party. The SU shouldn’t be apolitical, but it shouldn’t be a political activist group”.
Arrowsmith has a number of specific ideas for events in the 2021-22 academic year, most of which are contingent on public health guidelines. Arrowsmith said he wants to organise an additional “Trinity Ball, a massive live music ball off campus, so current fourth years are invited as they’ve missed their last two Trinity Balls”.
Arrowsmith envisions the event to be black tie, and in “as big a venue as possible”, suggesting the Academy and Vicar St as potential options. He calls this “the next best thing, at a fraction of the price”. This proposal comes in support of a similar promise made by current provostorial candidate Jane Ohlmeyer, who has laid out plans for hosting a second ball in replacement for the cancellations of the past two Trinity Balls if elected.
On Saturday, Arrowsmith held an online interview with immunologist Luke O’Neill on TFM, where O’Neill predicted that in-person lectures would return in some form in September, “though you might not see a full Ed Burke theatre.”
With regard to the possibility of nightclubs and events running next year, O’Neill said “there is grounds for optimism–you have to be able to predict a certain amount of loosening; however, I can’t see the nightclubs, let’s say Copper Face Jacks, opening up soon.” If all adults are vaccinated as is predicted, he said “then in September it will hopefully begin to look like it did in the good old days.” Arrowsmith concurred with O’Neill that a wide variety of events under different circumstances will have to be run in the 2021/2022 year, to make the most out of what is possible under Covid-19 restrictions.
Current first years have been dealt a very tough hand this year in college, and presumably many of them have struggled to integrate into the college community and make friends. Arrowsmith wants to host a Senior Freshers’ Week in September 2021 if public health guidelines allow, in order to give the current first years the freshers’ week they never had. This would involve separate nights out, just for second years.
With regard to the upcoming traditional 2022 Trinity Ball, Arrowsmith is keen that the event will not happen within two weeks of final exams, although his preference is that it would take place during term time. Another one of Arrowsmith’s ideas is to organise more charity nights out, what he calls ‘Ents for a reason’. He feels that engagement with charities such as Vincent de Paul (VDP) will increase engagement as well. “If I become Ents officer, you won’t just see a ‘night out’; every event will have some kind of theme and some kind of novel twist to it,” he stated.