Starting a society: A beginner’s guide.

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Hannah founded ‘Queen’s Musical Theatre Society.’ Photo Source: Queen’s Musical Theatre Society’s facebook.

Hannah Le Fevre Taylor, Contributor. 

One of the things that excited me most about the prospect of going to University was finding people with similar interests to me through my course and societies. From what I had heard from students at Queen’s as well as friends and family members at University, these were the people that would become your family at your home away from home. Walking around the Fresher’s Fair in my first week with a couple of my flatmates was great fun: we got free Sombreros for posting a photo on Twitter, we got many free pens and we signed up for some crazy societies that we had never even heard of before because what would Uni be without a little adventure? However, after I had walked round the fair on both days, I was more than slightly disappointed to discover there was no Musical Theatre Society at Queen’s. So, I took to the wonderful virtual world of Facebook to find out if anyone else felt the same and was delighted to find I wasn’t alone.

After some encouragement from my Performing Arts teachers and friends back home, I emailed Niall McKenna, the Clubs and Societies Support Officer in the Students’ Union, to find out about how I could go about starting a society for Musical Theatre. Maybe you think there’s something that Queen’s needs (for example, I notice there is no Disney society…) so here’s the process I went through broken down into five steps:

Step #1: Fill out and submit the initial form which you can get by emailing the Clubs and Societies Support Officer, not forgetting to include an incredible name that will make everyone want to get involved – I went with Queen’s Musical Theatre Society…inspiring, I know.

Step #2: Gather some prospective members! You need a list of at least 15 students and their student numbers so I would advise heading back to social media again, a hub of student communication. A few weeks into my course, a friend told me about a girl posting in the Queen’s Student Facebook group about wanting to start a society for Musical Theatre and said I should totally get involved. Clearly it hadn’t clicked for him the girl was me but it just proves how effectively these ideas can spread.

Step #3: Next you get into the paperwork; you have to draft a Constitution and Development Plan, luckily there are examples on the Students’ Union website but you’ll also need to recruit some extra heads to help you out. To write this all up you will need a committee and, again, social media is ideal for this so get a group together from the students interested. At the end of the day you only need three committee members: a President, Treasurer and Secretary. As long as you have them you can create and fill other positions as you please. Think of this paperwork as a blank page for the founding committee to write. As  inclusivity and equal opportunity were very important to us and are principles we believed societies should follow, this was our opportunity to weave them into the fabric that the Musical Theatre Society would be cut from. Once that’s done, you need to send it off to the Clubs and Societies Officer along with the list of students interested in your society. Don’t worry too much about this though, you will have plenty of support to make sure it’s all in order and on track.

Step #4: This is the point at which your dreams will hopefully become a reality. Having completed and submitted your paperwork, you will be invited to a Student Council meeting to be approved, so go along and wow them with your two minute pitch about the fantastic ideas and plan for the society’s future. Just be prepared for questions that may throw you off – as long as you know what you’re talking about and there isn’t a society like yours already, there will be no issue, the council will vote and BOOM, you’re official, congratulations!

Step #5: And now you’re ready for the good stuff: time to start building your membership and putting your plans into action! Getting a Facebook page up and running is a great start (along with Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter plus anything else you have the time for) and make sure you spread the word in the SU with posters. As we had missed out on the Fresher’s and Refresher’s Fair, we had to rely on advertising and word of mouth to appeal to members so the more you do, the better. It’s a good idea to set up an initial meeting to get people interested, find out what they would want from your society and hopefully sign up but it’s also a great opportunity to let them know about your plans.

If setting up a society is something you are considering, even if it’s just a passing thought, it is absolutely worth it. Not only is it a wonderful experience that you will learn a lot from, (don’t forget it looks great on your CV and being on a committee can go towards Degree Plus) you will meet amazing people that you might not have met otherwise.

University life is what you make of it so make yours fantastic!

 

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