Hello and welcome!
This is where you will find out everything you need to know about SU Societes here at the University of Suffolk.
What is a Society?
A collective of students formed on the basis of celebrating, promoting or experiencing an interest/hobby which can be either course-subject, recreational or interest related.
What does it mean to be an SU society?
Running a society in official affiliation with the SU means you will be an integral part of our family of students engaging and bettering our core services for the whole student body. While we assist and guide you throughout your time running a society, we expect you to constantly be aware that your society will represent the SU, on a University level. All students involved in your society must follow the SU’s Code of Conduct. Finally, the Committee of every society should aim to stay in constant and transparent communication with the Student Activities Coordinator, who is the member of staff designated to supporting and guiding societies at the SU.
How many people do I need to start a society?
Simple answer: 3
Looking for a more detailed answer? Here’s a description of the 3 roles which will form your society’s Committee:
Acts as Chair during all meetings in a fair and democratic manner.
Oversees all group activities, ensuring all other committee members are fulfilling their duties.
Ensures reasonable conduct of all members, while they represent the SU.
Operates as the main point of contact for the SU to the group, via the relevant officer.
Ultimately responsible for the safe return of all rented equipment belonging to or hired by the SU.
Key Documents You Will Need:
Committee Members Contact Form - keep an up-to-date copy of who your Committee is.
Constitution – outlines the principles, procedures and aims your society will follow throughout the academic year. This ensures your society outlines and upholds the good practice which is expected from members at all times. Ensure all members approve and sign it.
Society Development Plan – This is an exceptional document to collate all members’ thoughts and ideas about the direction of the society. You should complete a development plan at the end of every academic year (during your AGM, more about this later) and ensure all members sign and approve it.
Meet with Student Activities Coordinator to gain updates on Society balance.
Present budget to committee.
Report budget to AGM.
Work with President to make decisions on changes to financial arrangements.
Plays a key part in making bids for additional funding, from both UoSSU and external bodies.
Key Documents You Will Need:
Society Expense Form – use this form to claim back the expenditure you make for society-related events. You must purchase materials before claiming money back and retain all receipts from your purchases. If you fail to retain your receipts we will not be able to process your expense claim.
Takes notes at meetings and distributes them where appropriate.
Asks Student Activities Coordinator to book rooms for meetings and events if applicable.
Keeps a members database up to date, to be communicated with Student Activities Coordinator.
Plays a key role in administering all Society events.
Updates social media accounts regularly.
Keeps a file of group activities and processes throughout the year to enable smooth handover.
Key Documents You Will Need:
Risk Assessment – you must complete a risk assessment form before every event your society puts on. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to complete a risk assessment, a fellow Committee member must do so on your behalf.
Example of Optional Role: Recruitment Officer:
Responsible for organising recruitment activities and increasing membership to ensure longevity of the group.
Responsible for making sure all printed advertisement materials are readily available and distributed, remembering to inform Student Activities Coordinator when printing is needed.
Organises marketing campaigns and ideas.
Works to ensure students are joining the Society at peak periods of the academic year, particularly during key Freshers’ and Re-Freshers’.
Key Documents You Will Need:
Any promotional or advertisement material you produce – ensure you always have your society’s page readily available.
What training do we need?
Once you've formed your committee, the Student Activities Coordinator will give you access to the SU's training module on Learn, where you will find:
All the key documentation you will need to effectively run your society.
Tests which will really challenge your knowledge on how best to run your society.
You must complete the New Committee Member test before you can begin running your society and putting events on. So make sure your read the New Society Application Pack, as well as the information on this webpage, before you attempt the test!
How do we go about putting events on?
Here are the key steps to follow:
Pick an event idea, theme and type.
Pick a time, date and venue.
Run your ideas and progress past the Student Activities Coordinator.
Do you need to book a room?
Will any externals be attending?
Start initial communications with any other organisation or charities which need to be involved, keeping the SU informed at every stage.
Complete a risk assessment.
Submit risk assessment to Student Activities Coordinator, once signed off, finalise last minute details of your event.
Enjoy your event.
Important Notice: who will be attending your event? Will you be inviting an external speaker in to give a talk? Any external public figure, or student of another University, who engages in your events must be vetted and made known to the Student Activities Coordinator, before your event goes ahead. In some cases, external speakers may need University level clearance, so this is a vital step if you are planning to invite external members of the public and other organisations to your events. We also encourage you to make full use of the Chaplaincy at the University, who could offer useful guidance and oversight on religious and culturally sensitive activities.
Contact Tracey Allen (Lay Chaplain and Coordinator) for a friendly chat about your ideas and prospective events on:
What platform should we use to share our activities and achievements?
Each society has a page on our website (full list available here), where you can keep your members and other students up to date regularly by:
Updating your society’s description.
Creating and ticketing your events.
Writing articles or blog posts.
Share your page via any social media accounts you may have.
Important Notice: students who wish to sign up to your society should do so by visiting your page and clicking ‘join this group’. Memberships to societies are normally £1 (subject to change by individual societies).
Are there any annual traditions?
There are 5 annual events which we expect all societies to attend:
Committee Training Sessions (September and February):
All Committees must attend the annual training sessions put on before or during Freshers’ at the beginning of every academic year. This ensures you are kept up-to-date with any changes that have occurred and also means we can refresh your memory after all the frolicking you do over the summer!
This is one of the most exciting periods of the year and is also an amazing time to pick up new members! There will always be a whole host of events and activities for your Society to get involved in, so we’re expecting to see you, like, ALL THE TIME. Make sure you speak to staff at the SU at the beginning of September every academic year to get an idea of how and where your Society can be involved.
Another amazing time to pick up new members, straight after the Christmas and New Year break, we expect you to be a vital part of welcoming students back to a fresh term of hard work, with our awesome Freshers’ antics!
Annual General Meeting (AGM, conduct in March, April, May or June):
Toward the end of every academic year, you should round up all your Society’s activities with an AGM (Annual General Meeting). A deadline will normally be set by SU staff, and it is up to each Committee to organise theirs. This is the time to reflect on your year and try to explore ways you can improve as a Society in the following academic year. It is also essential that you elect (fairly and democratically, with the help of our Student Voice Co-ordinator) a new Committee. All Committee Members need to be present at the AGM and you should aim to have 5 members present too. Finally, remember an AGM is open to everyone, including the public. So invite your members, your neighbours – invite the whole University! Why not?!
What rewards can societies get?
Every year all societies compete for the chance to win the Society of the Year Award. When a society is first formed, it is entered into the Society Rewards Scheme. The scheme itself is comprised of a number of different criteria which societies race to fulfil in order to win points throughout the year. Each set of criteria is divided into the following categories: Membership, Planning and Development, Events and Activities, Digital Presence, Funding and Fundraising, and if you're feeling brave, there's an Advanced section too! At the end of the year, the points are totalled and the society with the most is crowned Society of the Year.
Here's what the league table looked like at the end of the 2015/16 academic year:
What are the top 5 points to remember when starting/running a society?
You need 3 people to start a Society?
It is normally £1 to join a Society for the year (July – July).
Every event must be risk assessed.
Use your page on the SU website to keep your members updated and showcase your achievements.
Stay in constant and transparent communication with the Student Activities Coordinator.
For further information, contact our Student Activities Coordinator, Aminah Suhail, on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01473 338153