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Setting up a society at university

Setting up a society at universityIf your university doesn't offer the society you'd really like to join, why not set it up yourself?

Getting started

Unless you're just looking for something to put on your CV, you probably already know what kind of society you want to start. From there, the first thing to do is make sure it doesn't exist already. If it does, then there's no need to start your own - even if you want to have a hand in running the society, you can put yourself up for the committee. Most student unions have directories of all the registered societies, so it's easy to check.

The student union

Most student societies are registered with their student union. Doing this shouldn't be too difficult, but it will probably involve agreeing to follow certain rules - for example, that all students at your university are eligible to join. Make sure you have read and understand these rules. Your union might not be able to approve all societies, often because of safety or insurance concerns.

Of course, you can set up a group without registering with your student union - but you'll miss out on some support and benefits like funding, promotion at Freshers' Fair and help with legal issues.

The committee

Your society will need a committee to keep it running smoothly. This usually includes a minimum of three people, in the following roles:

  • President/Chair: The leader of the society, responsible for running meetings, promoting the society and liaising with the student union.
  • Secretary: Deals with admin, including sending out emails, booking rooms, keeping records and lots more.
  • Treasurer: Manages the money, including fundraising, keeping accounts and approving claims for expenses.

Depending on the society, there might also be other committee members doing other jobs, such as a vice-president, social secretary or webmaster.

The committee is elected each year by the members of the society. Your student union might have rules about how you elect the committee.

Finding members

Members are what makes a society, so you'll need to find some if you want yours to be a success. The biggest way societies are advertised is through the Freshers' Fair at the start of each year, so try to get a stall there. However, until that comes around, there are plenty of other options, including posters in the student union, adverts in the student paper and posts online. You could also reach out to similar societies to see if any of their members are interested.

The best way to attract people to your society will depend on the kind of society you're running. For example, a poetry society might put up a poster in the English department.

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