There are times in life when one feels so personally aggrieved, so unwillingly exposed to dogmatic torture that one feels neutered, nauseous and violated. Indeed, as the correlation between Facebook photos of Val Thorens invading the webspace and my increased distance from the social sphere grew stronger, I shrivelled like a hermit against the onslaught of abrasive nudity.
Nevertheless, YUSnow’s annual adventures represent a triumph of financial and logistical management. Contrary to rumours circulating last week, YUSnow’s accounts are in serviceable shape, and considering the massive potential for mismanagement, this is something to be lauded regardless of the high costs involved in being part of the society. They might lick whipped cream off each other’s posteriors, but when it comes to demonstrating financial independence in these testing times, they are a shining example.
Earlier this year, Nouse reported that society funding from YUSU for the academic year 08/09 had been reduced by £4,717 to £31,100, despite an increased number of societies receiving funding. Substantial cuts to Bad Taste magazine, Music society and LGBT Social ostensibly left them with little possibility of functioning in the same way that they did last year. The recession means that hoping for a return to plentifully subsidised accounts is somewhat foolish, and so the responsibility of securing adequate funds in the foreseeable future lies with elected society chairs, secretaries and managing directors.
Instead of seizing upon a lack of funds as an excuse to whinge and moan, it should act as a catalyst: we should engage proactively with the recession and relish the challenge of sourcing money for the projects that so colour an otherwise drab university life. Ditch the unnecessary socials, whack a pound on the cost of the society hoodie and hound hangers-on for their membership fees. I fail to see what YUSU can do to placate angry societies. It wouldn’t be responsible to negate niche interests by allocating money based on an imagined meritocracy, and nor would a system based upon total membership accurately address cost issues.
The two student papers get printing costs for 6 editions (though our penchant for supplements makes ‘6’ fairly optimistic), and must therefore rely on savings or new revenues created during the year. As a result, sponsorship was secured and advertising deals on both a local and national level came into hard-fought fruition. Even as the pool of potential subsidisers rapidly dries, surviving cuts is not a huge problem for some. Certain societies continue to thrive by providing a product that people want and by being clever with their accounts. Comedy Soc used the York Alumni Fund to perform in Edinburgh last summer, and pull in revenue through cheaply produced shows that attract the faithful and more. DramaSoc retain complete financial independence from YUSU, and yet are rolling in money. With both a keen membership, a ready audience and a fierce reputation, Drama Barn productions can make anything between £300 and £650 against a maximum budget per play of £350. The scale of their Edinburgh operation is deeply impressive. The casual observer won’t have noticed any changes in LGBT Social’s programme of events, and the United Nations Association, despite a £500 cut, continue with their model UN roleplay in locations across the country. Even Tanning Soc, everyone’s favourite punchbag it would seem, secured corporate sponsorship.
I understand that societies that don’t produce a material product might really struggle, but do ‘interests’ or ‘socials’ require funding to generate groups of like-minded people coming together in happy, drunk conversation. We must be relentless in the pursuit of our interests, but must also acknowledge that to facilitate our interests there has to be some groundwork. Perfecting the ‘blag’ and hours on the phone are necessary steps.