This week, the UCD Societies Council sent out a document of FAQs to each student society containing awaited information and guidance relating to the requirements of societies in the coming semester. The email emphasises the difficulties facing societies with the recruitment of new members, the collection of subscription fees and strict guidelines to be adhered to in both online and physical events.
One of the salient difficulties which featured was the issue of recruiting new members in the upcoming term with the recent postponement of Freshers Week and the incapability for a physical presence of societies on campus. Some societies have opted for an online approach to the recruitment of new members such as the UCD French Society who have generated an online ‘new membership’ form. The payment for joining and collection of annual subscription fees have been postponed in most cases, with the Societies Council stating that “A final decision on [membership fees], and how to manage any subsequent fee collection, is being considered”. The Council mentioned the possibility of taking payment at the next feasible physical event or during Refreshers Week in the Spring semester.
Funding for societies is another major issue in the upcoming year. The Council recognised this issue and although stated that society expenditure was expected to be relatively low this year, hoped to maintain a similar grant level from the previous year, stating “if we can maintain similar grant levels, we will be endeavouring to maintain societies in their current financial position”.
In relation to events, the Council stated that they hoped for society activity to take place “as much as possible” this year, with obvious regulations to be applied in line with national Covid-19 guidance. Emphasis was placed on the types of events allowed to be organised; with most being educational and or extracurricular such as those in the nature of “talks, seminars, meetings, debates, lectures, inaugurals, public speaking, classes, plays, recitals” and those of social forms such as “alcohol/food receptions, balls, club events, pub crawls, nights out” not permitted. The Council did not prohibit the organisation of society trips, stating that they were “possible in principle” however presented “significant challenges”.
Strict measures and restrictions regarding the occurrence of future possible indoor events were also noted in the email, including hygiene and social distancing procedures such as ensuring windows were kept open to promote air circulation.
The Council also offered support and resources to all societies including the distribution of a Zoom license to facilitate online events.
Finance for societies is also a cause of concern this year. Brian Finn, Public Relations Officer of the UCD French Society, responsible for securing funding and sponsorship for society activity, spoke of the financial difficulties certain societies were going through as a result of current circumstances: “It was a lot more difficult finding sponsorships this year as a lot of businesses were heavily affected by COVID-19 and were less willing to give away money to societies given the economic hardships that they experienced the past few months”.
Eve Moore – Reporter