SU societies face student backlash

By Cal Purdon, The Linc

It’s time for students to get stuck into their studies, start writing essays and buckling down. However it’s not all work and no play for students at the University of Lincoln, as a wealth of societies gives students the chance to explore hobbies, make more friends and let their hair down with those of similar interests.


Ranging from Alternative Music to Ultimate Frisbee, usually there is a society for every one. Meanwhile, if your particular interest isn't already covered, the AU encourages the formation of new societies offering financial support and administrative advice to anyone keen to build their own society. | Photo: Samuel Cox

New members were encouraged to sign up to societies during Freshers’ Week and the Societies Fayre. After hoards of emails and Facebook messages, almost all new members have been inducted and they can proudly wear their society’s colours. Yet not all members have been inducted, or even emailed from their societies.

These events have led to criticisms from students, with one new member, Angela Lopes describing the societies as “inactive or with no events for some time.” Meanwhile, there have been whisperings of discontent amongst numerous students, all feeling a similar distain for their own societies.

Following heavy criticism, the new Vice President of the Dance Society, Laura Turner, felt the need to defend her society. In an exclusive statement made to the Linc, she told us “I am very sorry to hear there have been criticisms of the dance society, as my experience of last year was pleasant and enjoyable.”

When shown the criticisms of an unwelcoming nature, she added “It was its first year and there were no guidelines as to how it should be run. Dance is such a varied activity and it is difficult to accommodate everyone. This was evident in last year’s competition when time limits restricted availability to participate.”

Ms Turner went on to welcome any new members and encourage those to participate; “In this year’s competitions we hope to involve everyone who wishes to take part. I’m chuffed to see there are so many students who love dancing and we are still welcoming newcomers to our society.” Meanwhile, University of Lincoln Co-operation of Intra Mural Sports and Social society President Shane Croucher has turned the criticisms of societies on the Athletic Union; placing most of the blame with them.

In another Linc exclusive, the ULC co-founder accused the AU of poor communication, poor organisation and even costing his society new members. He said “We have had a lot of problem with regards to our society and setting it up. For one, the tills took a long time to set up in the SOAP centre. We didn’t realise there was a problem as we had established our membership price and asked them to set us up. It wasn’t until the first batch of new recruits came back to us complaining they couldn’t sign up, that we knew something wasn’t right. We had to go back, only to be told we had to email the established price plan to them. They never told us that initially and turned out to be a massive set back. We felt it would affect our membership numbers.” Mr Croucher, (20) went on to bemoan the “lack of or lateness of reply” and how “questions were often not answered.”

The biggest problem the Athletic Union and societies may have are financial obsticles, as the ULC president felt they were not getting the support they need; “We are not getting funding, so we feel like we are paying into something that we are getting absolutely no benefit from. If anything, it has been a set back, signing up for the AU and becoming an official society. We appreciate they have problems, but they just seem to have been an obstacle to our society moving forward.”

In response to these allegations, Dan Windross, Communications Officer of the University of Lincoln Students’ Union made a statement saying that “At the end of each academic year when the Sports teams and Societies have held their AGM and had an election, the new committee is asked to fill in a RAP pack (Resource Assessment Pack) as a way of telling the Athletic Union what they require from the new academic year, for example, membership fees, clothing provision, entrance fees etc. These packs are greatly received by the AU and help in creating budgets. The packs were required this year by the 30th May to confirm that the resources a sports team or society requires are catered for as best the Athletic Union can offer.”

Windross also responded to the ULCs complaints saying that they “sent in their RAP pack a couple of weeks ago, hence not initially receiving funds. The ULC did not advise the AU of their pricing structure until 2 weeks ago and they have more than one price compared to other clubs and societies.”

To aid societies, Windross said that the SU “recently installed a new till system and database which over time will dramatically improve our services and communications to members of sports teams and societies. As with any new system there have been a number of teething problems, however none of these are related to the situation highlighted by the ULC. The Union has procedures to act upon complaints received by its members and as of yet we have not received any such complaints from the ULC.”

However, with society leaders being forced to defend their societies, whilst others being let down repeatedly by the Athletic Union, one has to wonder why anybody would bother to start their own society, or turn up for existing ones. Yet more and more people are continuing to run societies and social events, trying to encourage people to make new friends, develop bonds and follow interests. But in the wake of such criticism, will these much complained upon societies continue to exist?

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