<p>I wanted to do everything, but it certainly didn’t help that there are over 200 clubs. Even so, I couldn’t find one that I was totally enthusiastic about. For those who aren’t satisfied with the current selection, don’t worry. Not only can you join a club, you can also create a new club!</p>
I had always known coming to uni that I would love to join a club. However, the big question was “Which club to join?” I wanted to do everything, but it certainly didn’t help that there are over 200 clubs. Even so, I couldn’t find one that I was totally enthusiastic about. For those who aren’t satisfied with the current selection, don’t worry. Not only can you join a club, you can also create a new club!
Creating a new club might sound like a scary and bizarre idea. There are so many things that could go wrong. What if you mess up important documents? What if there aren’t enough people interested in joining your club? What if the clubs and societies (C&S) office bearers and staff are scary? (Turns out that they are actually lovely—go to them if you have any questions!) As someone that just went through this process last semester, I had these concerns too. While the process was not a piece of cake, everything turned out great. If you are not convinced yet, here are some steps that you’ll need to follow to start a club! (You can also find these on the UMSU website, but this article is more fun.)
The first step is creating the idea for the club. You need to have at least four aims that are achievable, clear and not too similar to existing clubs. You should also consider your target audience and what events your club will run. If you are genuinely passionate about your ideas, this is a very easy step.
The next step, which, as an introvert, I found the hardest, is to get expressions of interest from at least 50 students. There are three ways to do this. Firstly, you can advertise your clubs by campaigning outside Union House or before lectures. Although you’ll get the keenest people to join your club, this method is easier said than done as it takes a lot of time and resources distributing flyers. Secondly, you can go to an established club’s event whose members may be interested in joining your club (ask their committee first whether you can advertise there). However, your expressions of interest can’t overlap more than 40 per cent with members of another club. Finally, you can ask your friends to support you in getting those 50 expressions of interests. However, this might be hard as they may not be interested enough to attend a general meeting or become a committee member, which are also essential elements of running a club.
The next step is writing your constitution. No sweat though as the C&S committee have a standard constitution that you can use!
Finally, you need to hold your inaugural general meeting (IGM). Before the day, there are several things you need to prepare, like the agenda (there’s a standard one available), room bookings and catering and then provide this information to the C&S department. You might also want to ask people beforehand if they are interested in becoming a committee member to save time during the IGM, although any member that comes to an IGM has the right to nominate themselves.
On the day, make sure that you have at least 20 people attend your IGM. Advertise and message everyone you know, otherwise you will have to defer your IGM. A member of the C&S department will come and help you run the IGM as the returning officer and chairperson and you will also need to appoint a minute-taker. After the IGM, you just need to submit all the relevant documents like the IGM minutes and membership list.
However, your work is not done yet. New clubs are vulnerable to being disaffiliated, so it’s essential to learn all the rules and regulations you’ll need to follow to keep your club alive. Read through the exec wiki, attend executive trainings and ask plenty of questions. Don’t forget to keep promoting your club—clubs are nothing without their members. Spread the words to your friends, run events, create banners and network with other people by attending events run by the C&S department. Finally, work together, bond and meet with your committee members regularly so that you can grow the club together.
This article might seem intimidating but my advice is to just try! (Just be prepared for extra work during the semester.) The time to create a new club might only start next year, but you can start preparing right now. Talk to clubs people, find someone to be your co-founder and start envisioning your events. Everyone’s passions and interests should be represented in UMSU! Personally, I’ve found that managing clubs is tiring but going to events and meeting new friends with similar passions to mine has made my uni life way better.