How to start your own society at university By Simon Thompson
It has to be said, one of the most liberating parts of freshers is signing up for every society you have a vague interest in. Whether it’s something adventurous like mountaineering, something boozy like winesoc or something a bit more unusual like battle re-enactment society, you will inevitably end up with a million follow-up emails after societies’ fair.
However, even with all that choice, sometimes you find a niche which hasn’t been catered for at your uni and you want to set up your own society.
How do you go about doing this?
I spoke to University of Birmingham graduate Autumn Evans about the society she founded.
What was the society you decided to establish, and why?
At the end of my first year I set up The Songwriters’ Society at The University of Birmingham because, as a keen singer-songwriter, I felt like there was no designated platform for original music and an environment to share and appreciate each other's music was very important to me.
How did you go about setting it up?
Starting it up first of all involved writing a pitch proposal on the intentions of the society and why it deserved to be started, and I then needed to pitch the society to a university board. The university were incredibly supportive straight away and, to my great relief, passed it immediately. From there I put out a call for a committee and was lucky enough to get an absolutely amazing one, and we got to work.
Did you have any initial difficulties getting it off the ground?
I must admit that getting it off the ground was actually much harder than I first anticipated. One thing I would say to anyone thinking of starting one is that it's only something to do if you're willing to put the work in - because there is a lot.
It's one thing to be passionate about something, but to run a committee involves so much plugging, budgeting and paperwork. What I found most difficult was making sure that people felt engaged with it and constantly came to events.
In retrospect, would you say it was worth all that hard work?
Yes. It is 100% worth it and I absolutely loved being president of our society for the two years that I was.
How is the society doing now?
The Songwriters Society is only two years old so it's still in its still in its fairly early stages really in terms of outreach but it's doing well and I'm very proud of my little baby. I'm looking forward to seeing how it carries on and grows in new hands and I really hope it continues to be successful.
So if you’re thinking about setting up your own society, why not just go for it? As long as you bear in mind that it’s going to be hard work, and have plenty of people there to support you (such as bribing housemates to come to your events), it’ll be one of the most rewarding things you can do at university, and a legacy to leave behind you when you graduate.
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