I’ve been keeping myself quite busy since the last post (February? O dear!), for instance I am not only a committee member of 2 societies, but I’ve also started my own!

So today we shall learn how to start a new society at the University of Essex.

WARNING: steps may vary depending on the University and country. The author will not take any responsibility for harm, serious injury, death or ridicule resulting from using this instructions in a University with different rules. 


The first thing to know is how societies here are regulated.

The University of Essex Students’ Union is in charge of all things magical around campus, including democracy with a sprinkle of extra bureaucracy.

The societies are regulated by something called “Societies Guild”, which I’m sure does a lot of interesting things and has a really long statute, but for the time being all you need to know is that they have 2 AGMs each term, that is they get representatives from each existing society and lock them up in a room. Then they show a presentation, and new societies are voted.
This process is called ratification, but more of it later.

Step 1: You say “we need to talk” Start Up Form

The first thing to do, after deciding what amazing society you want to start, is to write down a list of aims and objectives for your society.
If you have no idea what the difference between the two is, don’t worry, you’re in good company.
My basic rule when I wrote mine was: half here half there.
Your aims and objectives have to go on a document called “Society Start Up Form”, which is basically a sign up sheet.
Twenty people must be forced into signing a document saying they will indeed join the society, should it be ratified, and provide their names, student ID, and e-mail address.

This step is going to take forever.
Seriously, forever.
And ever.

Step 2: Ratification

Once the powers that be have checked that all the signature are truly of students, and you didn’t make up foreign-sounding names, your society is ready for ratification.

That is, wait for the next Annual General Meeting.

After sitting for a long time listening to things you know nothing about by people that you didn’t even know existed, it will be your moment to shine, you’ll have “one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted” [yes I’m cool like that].

You’ll now have everyone’s [small print: not a guarantee] undivided attention: pitch your society idea for 5 minutes and then answer any question these people might have.
Congratulation, they’ve probably voted in favour and you’ve been ratified!

Step 3: Paperwork (yes, some more)

You thought you were done?
Bless you.

This is probably the final step — you know if you don’t count committee training and budget reports — you have to undertake.
Download from your Students’ Union friendly website a “code of conduct” and a “constitution”, fill in the blanks and submit the things.

Now you’re officially a society.

Well done.

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