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    TL;DR Are societies at your uni taken too seriously?

    Basically, before coming to university I was quite excited about the prospect of joining societies. I figured I didn't want to spend all my time socialising in student bars/clubs and believed societies would present an opportunity to meet like-minded people in a chilled-out environment. My experience of societies so far has been anything but that.

    I've constantly found that the people who run them take things very seriously, seemingly neglecting people skills in the process. I often feel like the only reason they exist is so that the people in charge can say they have leadership and management experience after they graduate.

    Take one example: Creative Writing.

    Before I joined, I thought it'd be a great way to meet fellow writers and to work on some of my own writing. I also thought it'd give me a chance to get feedback from others. Instead, we turn up each week; the two people running the society decide on a theme (e.g. fantasy) and then instruct us to write quietly for an hour. After that's over, nobody shares their work - which is understandable as nobody edited it - and then we all go home.

    The people running it aren't bothered about going out for a drink after. The only time they seem to get excited is when they send us emails about how we can publish our work in quarterly journals. Great if you want to do that but I guarantee that less than 5% of the people in the society actually do.

    Take another example: Performing Arts.

    I'm not an actor but I thought this would be a great way to work through some of my anxiety issues. You know, getting on stage, being out of character, and having a jolly old time by putting on some fun pieces.

    At first, it felt like that but as time has gone on, it's become more apparent the people running it are doing so in order to fuel their own creative careers, either through stage production, writing, and/or performance. The committee is made up of about a dozen people who have final say on everything, holding the society up to some laughably high standards given that it's nothing more than a university society (it's certainly not the Footlights!).

    So far they've managed to piss off almost everybody I've spoken to about it. It's come to a point where more and more people are leaving or choosing not to get involved. The central complaint is that it's overly regulated; if you have any ideas you have to formally declare your intentions through written statements and several meetings. It feels totally bureaucratic, which I find mad.


    Basically, these are the two societies I'm most involved in and I feel they've been complete shite. I personally see no reason why university students should be acting in such self-important terms. I also feel that they're completely ruining what should be a fun experience for ordinary students who want to do something enjoyable outside of their studies.

    I'm probably going to leave both of them but I wonder if I've simply had a very unique set of bad experiences or whether societies are being taken too seriously in general? What have your experiences been like?

    that sounds like an awful experience? what University did you go to? I've had a generally positive experience of societies, I've been on committee but always tried to make it about the people rather than myself. admittedly I've never been involved in 'creative' societies so maybe they're run differently
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    (Original post by DCFCfan4eva)
    that sounds like an awful experience? what University did you go to? I've had a generally positive experience of societies, I've been on committee but always tried to make it about the people rather than myself. admittedly I've never been involved in 'creative' societies so maybe they're run differently
    I can't post the university just in case it filters back but I suspect it's probably a rare occurrence. My cousin was part of the same type of creative societies at another university a few years ago and she told me that they used to sit around in the pub having a chat while doing all the creative stuff. Sounded like loads of fun and apparently nobody took it really seriously - they were mostly happy to socialise.

    That's what I was expecting so it's proved to be a bit crap.


    I've been a member of a society at my university for two and a half years now. I've never been a committee member, but, well.... there was quite a bit of drama within the committee members that reached the rest of the group.

    This year, the society has run into hard times, and the society has... well... it's been failing.

    In 1st and 2nd year, I used to LOVE going to this society. It used to even be the highlight of the week! But this year, I noticed myself enjoying the society less and less and less. Eventually around about November the will to go to this society just ceased altogether. I figured it was a matter of me just getting jaded to the society, but after recently attending for the first time since November, I've realised that there has been a LOT of trouble under the hood.

    The secretary of the society basically... "wasn't bothering". They were never showing up to the meetings, or the committee meetings. The president of the society did not like this one bit. I saw the group chat that involved just the committee members. I shouldn't have seen this, but someone on the committee showed us. And my god was there SO much drama. Basically the whole group chat conversation was one giant spat between the secretary and the president. The president themself was sending very nasty angry messages, basically telling the secretary to not bother ever showing up again. The rest of us agreed that yeah, the secretary was being very snide, but the president didn't need to be so overly harsh. It was just a university society. And the secretary was recently diagnosed with clinical depression, making him never want to leave his house. Then the president got super angry at the member of the committee who showed us the group chat, since that was meant to be "STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL", and nearly fired him too.

    So yes, I do think societies at university can be taken a bit too seriously. It's just a university society. I felt the president needed a lot more chill.

    I think it depends on the people/society/circumstance. My examples are varied:

    Psychology society - no regular meetings to go to, only consistent events were 'socials' (clubs, pub crawls) which I wasn't really interested in, I'd joined because I was interested in Psychology, not drinking...so after the first semester I didn't really bother getting involved. Committee folk did seem rather self-important, especially given the actual calibre of the society...

    Creative writing - regular meetings but the few 'in-charge' were very particular about themes/activities. One event was apparently cancelled without me knowing and I didn't really bother after that.

    Archery - didn't hold a bow and arrow for the first (3 hour session), found it very slow-paced and overly-instructed (not so bad if you'd never done it before, I guess). Went a few times but decided not to sign up fully, partly due to the crazy cost, partly because of the apparent disdain for people who wanted to have fun and improve rather commit to traveling to whole-day competitions every other week.

    Orchestra - Fairly relaxed (some of the committee are less 'relaxed' than others, but in general do a good job on organising events etc - both performances and less-'relevant' socials, all of which are optional). All the music is decided by them (though I think you can put suggestions down) but you didn't have to audition, just play as much as you can, and there was no requirement to commit to performances etc before you'd even learnt the pieces - still going, but not as regularly at the moment.

    I have a very different experience, some societies are run well, others just aren’t run well at all because they keep playing films. The students there don’t seem that approachable, seem perfectly happy with the people they talk to, it’s probs my fault though

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