Dec 7, 2020- By Sophie Porteous
With almost all social interaction out of the window due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, Sophie Porteous contemplates how university societies will cope with the new reality.
Usually a basis for freshers to develop strong friendships, what societies provide for students is central to the university experience, but as long as COVID restrictions continue to be in place societies are extremely limited in what they can do. Most society events were forced online by the soft lockdown, and due to the national lockdown there have been no in-person society events this term for a large majority of societies. Those who rely on in person attendance are severely affected by the limitations placed on socialising. Sports societies were allowed to practice until the national lockdown began, but other societies that need to be able to meet in-person were not been allowed such luxuries.
Due to the national lockdown there has been no in-person society events this term for a large majority of societies
Joining these societies has become almost pointless in the eyes of many. Why join a music society if all you get is a zoom quiz every 2 weeks? How can you participate in a debate if your Wi-Fi might cut out halfway through speaking? And why join an academic society if you can’t meet your course mates anyway? These are all questions whizzing around the minds of the student body this year. Societies are usually the best way to make friends, but if you don’t like sport there is very little chance that you will be able to meet up in person, and making friends through a screen is challenging. Furthermore, those elected into committee roles face a huge challenge. Watching the society you love be reduced to a few people on a zoom screen must be heart breaking, and trying to come up with innovative ways to gain interest from new and old members when half the people are relying on dodgy student wifi is no easy feat. This may lead to students deciding to not join any societies at all, and this lack of membership could spell the end for many groups.
Indeed, the growing dislike of Zoom quizzes basically renders the university’s quiz society obsolete, but what else are societies expected to provide? There is only so much a social sec can do before members lose interest – come dine with me socials don’t work when you can’t actually cook together, and the usual TP Wednesday sports socials are completely off the table. Although the loss of infamous initiations and controversial society guests such Katie Hopkins or Jacob Rees-Mogg may not be such a bad thing, it is a true shame that societies are unable to function as they should this year, and this could have lasting affect on students long after the lockdown is over.