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With a massive increase in societies at the University in the last few years, the problems and setbacks for these societies are growing ever more apparent, but there is much being done by LUSU to combat some of these problems.
The students’ union has over 100 societies ranging from Paintballing to Writer’s Guild, Sky Diving to Sub-Aqua Club, with reports that around half of all students in Lancaster are active members of societies. This academic year, however, has seen society executives faced with two main problems: those of finance, and spaces for the societies to meet.
Joining a society can come at a cost, but since the beginning of the academic year, LUSU and the Societies Union have made changes to make funding more accessible to societies. Since this time, many societies have benefited – the Fashion Society, with its new magazine ‘Tattered Lace’, and the Dance Society to fund travel to national events, for example.
The single biggest issue for societies this year is space on campus. Not all societies can depend on meeting in bars, and need to book a regular space to hold their meetings in. New estates developments are one of the main causes for this impact on the way students are able to spend their free time.
Andy Johnston, VP (FEDS) sees it as a responsibility of the University to ensure that there are spaces on campus for societies to meet, because of the importance they have to students: “[Societies] should be placed high on the list of priorities and gain equal or even higher status than external bookings for space.”
“It’s important that these activities are protected, encouraged and supported by our Student’s Union but also by our University,” he continued, explaining that societies are important for the mindset of students, and are often a better way to unwind than a night out.
The new system of funding has, however, brought a more optimistic attitude to forming societies, with the Lancaster University Glee Club currently being proposed to LUSU.
Lancaster University Glee Club (LUGleeC) has been started by Matt Saint and his theatre classmates, who were talking about the show, which is shown on Mondays on E4, and decided that the University needed a similar style Glee Club.
“Although there are a lot of performing arts societies in Lancaster University, there is nothing quite like the idea we saw on the TV show,” Saint said, adding: “The idea of the society is to involve all forms of stage performance, so we can get as many people involved as possible and do whatever they enjoy.”
Over 150 students have already joined the Lancaster University Glee Club group on Facebook, and a proposal to be an official society of the Union is being made to the Societies Council and LUSU.
According to Saint, once set up, anyone in the Glee Club would be able to propose musical numbers for the rest of the members to vote. The most popular numbers would be chosen for the club’s performances. “If voted in, the person [who proposed the chosen song] would then direct the show and everyone else can get involved with it,” he explained.
Publicity Officer for the club, Matthew Power said: “LUGleeC is an exciting innovative society that I hope will capture a lot of people’s imaginations,” adding, “The television show has had phenomenal success and we hope to encapsulate that with some of the most talented people on campus. I think LUGleeC has a big future and I hope people get involved in it!”
Johnston was keen to stress that almost anyone can form a society, as long as there are 20 members of LUSU as starting members of the society. “Whenever anyone wants to start a society, I always ask the demand for it. [LUGleeC] produced a list of thirty people.”
All societies are eligible to complete a simple application for funding from the LUSU Activities fund, since the reforms earlier this year.