Covid-19 and the future of Strath Union’s clubs and societies

Image credit: Strath Union

By Anna Bryan

Strathclyde Union’s societies are concerned about their future as the effects of Covid-19 continue to change university life as we know it.

The Union building, which is commonly used as a meeting place for societies, is currently closed, and as of yet has no official reopening date. Events usually held in Freshers week that attract new members, such as the Freshers Fair, will be cancelled or forced to move online as a result of the Union building closure. 

“There aren’t currently any plans for the Union to open this semester for Clubs and Society activities,” said Ru Wallace, the Vice President Community for Strath Union: “Our direction at the moment is for clubs to plan all activities to be online for the whole of the first semester.

“This is obviously pretty tricky, particularly for societies where physical activities are their primary focus, but putting student and staff safety first, and following government and University guidelines, it’s the only option we feel works”.

Some societies are calling for better communication and support from the Union, as they struggle to make plans for the upcoming semester. 

We are still unsure about how we are going to effectively run the society in the same way as the previous years, our classes currently have nowhere to be held,” said Aspen Lynch, President of Strathclyde Pole Fitness, which was named Strathclyde Student Union’s “Best New Society 2018/19.” Worried about the future of the society, Lynch is hoping for improved communication from the Union about rules that societies are expected to follow and more frequent updates about future plans. She added: “We have received very few emails at this time about the support available for a society such as ours which relies on in-person classes.” 

Sheik Abdul Malik, the president of the TedxUniversity of Strathclyde society, is also worried about the lack of in-person events that can be held this year. He said: “We are anticipating a major drop in new members signing up with us. As we are not allowed to host any events during semester one, our presence on campus is going to be minimal with very few activities to attract new people. This will have a cascading effect on our team size for next year, which is crucial to build in term one.” 

Unlike Lynch and Malik, Charlotte Hill, the President of the Strathclyde Musical Theatre Society, has been impressed with the response from the Union and is feeling optimistic about the year ahead for her society. She said: “The University and the Union have been so supportive and helpful during these times. They have kept us up to date with what they know throughout the whole pandemic.

“We are in the process of making some promotional videos for our social media sites, we are also planning some fresher fair online activities to attract new members. We are hoping that this will attract people to come and see what we are all about.”

Despite the new challenges societies face, Vice President Community Wallace believes that clubs will still be able to attract new members. He said: “I feel like students, particularly new ones starting in an online environment, will be looking for an opportunity to meet new people and pursue their hobbies, and our clubs and societies at Strathclyde have the chance to provide that for them.

 “I definitely think there is a safe future for clubs at Strath. We’ve seen so many clubs getting really creative with how they run online events, and staying active during lockdown, and it goes to show how it’s definitely possible to keep running as a club under tricky circumstances.”