YUSU’S Give It A Go initiative, which aimed to encourage students to try out a range of different societies by running taster events in conjunction with colleges, has been criticised by society committees.
The proposal was launched by Anna-Therese McGivern, former Student Activties Officer, who proposed that the scheme would allow societies to interact with first-year students as part of their college timetable and hopefully gain interest or members before Freshers’ Fair.
The intention was for colleges to include Give It A Go events in their internal timetables, informing their freshers about some of the societies the University has to offer alongside college-led socials and events.
However, according to some student societies, colleges were uncooperative and did not properly advertise the events alongside their own Freshers’ Week timetable.
One society chair, who wished to remain anonymous, told Nouse: “We had plans from our end to have a good 30 people come, 60 over the two sessions, and from what I gather we had about 4. The colleges were quick to respond and keen to work with us at the beginning, it’s just a shame they hadn’t done enough to promote our sessions, instead focusing on their own freshers events which led to a really poor turnout.”
Despite a wide variety of societies signing up to the scheme, poor planning led to many sessions with low turnout, including times where only one person turned up to society events.
James Lees, Secretary for Physics Society, said: “Whilst YUSU gave us plenty of support in setting up the event we felt that the colleges were not nearly as supportive. One college [Langwith] took so long in responding that we were unable to give a session there.
“Another college, whilst advertising the session in a welcome booklet, gave no indication of when or where it would take place, leading to only a few people turning up who found out through our own advertising.”
Lees added: “James College never even mentioned any Give It A Go stuff and I was a Head STYC trying to find alternative events for my STYClets.
“I think it was a fantastic idea but that using the colleges wasn’t the best move. Hopefully they’ll be able to figure out a way to do it better next year. I know we’d definitely try and put on another event.”
Similarly, a member of Swing Dance Society, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Give It A Go was a good idea, but many of the colleges did not advertise the events sufficiently with the new students. The exception was Vanbrugh who were well organised and got many students to participate.”
Frustrations over college organisation were shared by Muggle Society, who had organised games of Quidditch. Beccy Bletsoe, Chair of MuggleSoc, said: “We thoroughly enjoyed the Give It A Go session we put on with Vanbrugh College as it was very well organised by the JCRC and we received enough publicity to get some freshers to attend. They also publicised our society on their Facebook page and organised pitch booking.
However, Bletsoe went onto say: “Our session with Alcuin College was a mess; they didn’t respond to emails in time meaning we didn’t have a pitch booked to fill in the Events Management Fund with enough notice. They also did not publicise the event at all resulting in no attendance from Alcuin members.
“We had to book a pitch away from Alcuin College but in the end not even the people organising it attended our session or came to see how it went. It took us a lot of hard work and effort to set up the pitch and plan the session, which understandably annoyed us because nobody turned up.”
Alcuin JCRC was contacted for a response but did not reply before Nouse went to print.
Not all societies had problems with publicity, with some finding the sessions conducive to attracting new members. Jonathan Fry, Chair of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society, told Nouse: “Give It A Go went well! A lot more people came along on the days it rained, which made sense.
“The one [at Constantine College] didn’t see many turn up because there was some sort of big freshers event happening, but the rest had a good number of people.”
Charlotte Liddell, Langwith College Vice-President for Activites, told Nouse: “Give it A Go sessions were a really good idea in principle but unfortunately they didn’t really work out.
“We sent out our welcome material a month before Freshers’ Week with all the Give It A Go sessions advertised and also publicised at our college Freshers’ Fair. Unfortunately turnout was poor at the activities.”
She added: “With regards to the sessions we did run, they were quite niche but did attract some of our students! During a week where a lot of the time the focus is on catering for the masses, if the colleges and societies were engaging just a handful of students, then I personally think the sessions were worthwhile!
“It also acted as a chance to bring societies over to Hes East and see the facilities we have which will hopefully continue in the future.”
Gareth Dybiec, Chair of James College, responded to criticism by saying: “Give It A Go has the potential to be a really great program. However, as it was a pilot year I feel that there was too much confusion on both sides to make it run smoothly. We were told it was a free scheme and yet during the summer some societies were asking us for large amounts of money, which at the time we did not have.
“Combining these two factors meant that we decided to leave the scheme for this year and focus on the events we had already planned. I believe it’s something that should be reviewed but at a much earlier time.”
Similarly, Chris Wall, Student Activities Officer, said: “The Give It A Go initiative was a way to help societies promote themselves and get themselves working together with colleges.
“It was a pilot scheme and naturally there were some niggles and things we’d like to change. Overall however I think the scheme was a good one and we will be taking on the feedback from the societies and colleges to look at how we could improve it in the future.”