Society chairs have criticised YUSU after problems with the societies section of the website meant that it was not fully updated in time for Results Day, when many freshers use it to research societies after getting their results.
An email was sent to all societies at the start of the month informing them of issues with the website which meant that new signatories did not have access to society backpages and students who tried to pay membership online for 2014/ 2015 would actually be paying for membership for 2013/2014.
Societies were told that their old societies would be de-ratified and a new 2013/2014 society would be created for them showing the new information that was provided to YUSU during the ratification process during last term. YUSU promised societies these updates would be made by 14 August.
However, YUSU were unable to fix the website before Results Day, citing the present lack of an IT Coordinator as one of the reasons why. Chris Wall, Student Activities Officer, explained: “As YUSU is currently without an IT Coordinator, the societies backpages have not been able to be manually updated… because it requires specialist knowledge of coding and website development that we are currently without.”
He went on to say: “If I was still a society chair I would be first at the door complaining as I understand how frustrating this must be, which is why I ask trust that we have explored every possible option to get it fixed… Although it would seem easy to get someone in for 15 minutes to fix it, for a few reasons (mainly revolving around data protection law) we are unable to do this.”
A document containing societies’ details and contact information has instead been created and uploaded to the website as a temporary solution. An email sent to societies informing them of this development stated: “Sorry this isn’t perfect, but hopefully it is better than nothing.”
Stuart Maule, Chair of the University of York Green Party, told Nouse: “It’s a shame that the societies at York have been let down by YUSU because of its lack of investment into the website and IT provision, and that new arrivals have been given a poor welcome into student life.
“The high quality and wide variety of societies have missed the key date to be showcased which will most likely put more pressure on societies in Freshers week to promote themselves and we will be seeking additional funding to ensure we can reach all students to show what we can offer.”
One of the Co-Chairs of the newly-ratified Applied Social Science and Social Policy Society, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed, saying: “It is is annoying that we are unable to have much information for freshers who are interested in our society. I remember when I got my results that the first thing I did was check what societies I was going to do.”
YUSU has faced criticism from societies on several occasions. Their management of last year’s Freshers Fair and Refreshers Fair was branded “poor”, with many societies saying they were unhappy with the new bar code system that was designed to make membership payment simpler.
However, some societies feel they have not really been affected by the recent issues with the website. Alex Hackitt-Anwyl, Co-Chair of the Literature Society, told Nouse: “Being unable to access our society’s back pages is a little bit frustrating but this is the time of year when we least need them so I’d much rather they have the problem now than in September.”
Similarly, a Chair of another society, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s unfortunate timing but it seems like they are working hard to handle the situation and I appreciate that they have kept us informed so far.”
According to Wall, who stressed that YUSU “are currently in the process of interviewing for [a new IT Support Coordinator]” the website is expected to be fixed “in time for Freshers Week if not sooner”. He added: “I can only apologise about this problem and promise it will be resolved as soon as it possibly can be.”