From autumn term next year societies will be graded and awarded according to their performance in areas such as: membership, collaboration, events, and fundraising.
The Society Accreditation Award Scheme is linked to the newly introduced Society Minimum Standards, and has been designed to encourage societies to grow and develop.
James Croydon, YUSU Student Activities, stated: “It is hoped that the award is a nice way of helping societies develop further and reward societies that are developing and developing their students. The criteria discussed with societies were a first draft and the official criteria will be released next year. The award does not directly affect funding.”
The plans propose giving a status of platinum, gold, silver, or bronze to societies to reward growth, independence, and student involvement.
The level a society will be given depends on four criteria: number of members, number of collaboration hours (with departments, external groups or other societies), funds raised independent of YUSU, and number of events held.
To reach each level the society must achieve every criteria of that level. There will be different rewards offered for each level attained. A gold level society must raise over £400 of its own funding, beyond that given to it by YUSU, hold over six events and have over 40 members in the year.
However, this move has received a mixed response from a number of society chairs, who feel that this method of ranking will damage some societies.
Andy Davis, Chair of York Student Think Tank, commented: “Societies which are weak in just one of these areas would have a lower category than they deserve. If funding is dependent on the level of the society, then it could be harder for small groups to develop.”
However, Phil Downs, Chair of the Conservative Society, told Nouse: “We think it will further encourage societies to strive to do the best they can for their members and for the student experience at York.
Louis Lunts, Drama Soc Chair, said: “YUSU must be aware of falling into the trap of evaluating all societies on the same scale. Regular ticketed events, for instance, may be less indicative of success for a study group than it is for a performance society.”
The new system may benefit some societies more than others. But Byron Karemba, University of York Labour Club Chair, said this was a good thing for political societies who are often not recognised.
“I very much welcome this award system as it provides an opportunity for political societies to be recognised. Political societies are usually sidelined for special grant awards or any other recognition because they are considered polarising, however I think this particular scheme will be fair as it is based on objective assessments.”