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By Sheik Abdul Malik, Societies Executive member.
Community is at the Heart of Societies Exec
Building a sense of community, engaging with more students and encouraging them to participate in society activities and events are arguably some of the most important things we can do as members of Strath Union. As a member of Societies’ Exec, these are the values I uphold, and the past three years have been some of the most personally enriching university life I have experienced. I have been heavily involved with societies since I started my PhD in 2019 and during this time, I have gained numerous skills and received so many opportunities to work with students from across the university on a wide variety of projects. It has been these positive experiences that led me to think about how I might be able to give back to Strath Union, a place that has given so much to me.
In the Summer of 2022, at the end of my second term on the Societies Exec committee, I applied to the Alumni Fund for help in creating a legacy project at Strath Union, one that benefit societies as well as non-member students. Inspired by Charity Month, our annual fundraising competition, I proposed a competition which would help societies boost the number of students engaging with them in events and activities. I wanted to help societies to think more creatively about how they could create impact, reach non-members and perhaps make the activities they carry out accessible to a wider audience.
This could be for example, by holding their events and activities at varying times of the day to include a wider audience of students such as PGRs, student carers, and parents. Or perhaps changing the venue of regular meetings to make them more easily accessible to students with disabilities.
I also wanted to encourage collaborations between societies so that combined, they could highlight their individual societies through a meaningful shared event.
Following a successful fully funded alumni application of £500, and with increased momentum I took the project to the new Societies Exec Committee at the start of the 2022/2023 academic year where I was able to secure match funding from Socs Exec budget. Now, with a total of £1000 available for societies and, having worked with the committee over the past few months, we launched our competition in December 2022.
We received fantastic feedback from Elaine Keil from the Alumni Fund who was highly supportive of our ideas. Elaine commented, “The Alumni Fund aims to support all Strathclyders to have an outstanding university experience and being part of Strath Union societies are at the heart of this. We are delighted to support this project to inspire societies to widen access to their activities and are looking forward to finding out the innovative ways societies have achieved this.”
VP Community Justyna Kardasz said, “I’m very happy to see that there are pathways for students to set up initiatives such as this where it can touch many student groups and
encourage them to grow. This is exactly the type of change we love to see as it provides a platform for collaboration, change and community.”
How can Societies Get Involved?
This is the first new initiative that the Societies Exec have pioneered, and we are incredibly excited to see all of the fantastic projects and events you have been working on.
You will find all of the information you need to get involved on Strath Union website under Committee Resources within your society’s admin page. Navigate to ‘Enhancing Engagement Competition’ to see some examples of what kind of applications we are looking for.
We have three categories this year:
1. Greatest Impact Award (£500)
2. Greatest Member Increase Award (£250)
3. Best Collaboration Award (£250)
Once you decide which categories(s) you want to enter, you can follow the link to provide a brief summary of how your society has met the criteria. All entries will be judged by the Societies Exec and a member of the Alumni Team with the winners being announced at this year’s Star Awards Ball https://www.strathunion.com/opportunities/star-awards/ arguably the highlight of the year!
Create Impact in your Own Way
I firmly believe that engaging with Strath Union whether that is through volunteering activities, societies or in elected roles is a highly rewarding experience. We all have the ability to positively impact our community here at the University of Strathclyde and this competition is a great way to recognise this engagement. I can’t wait to read all the outstanding applications we receive and to see the real differences you have made over the past few months.