Clubs / Societies

NUS Awards 2008 – Winners

The NUS Awards 2008 were held on Monday night, hosted by John Sergeant.

Congratulations to all the winners on the night.  They were, as follows:

Endsleigh Student of the Year

  • Laura Sterling – The University of Birmingham Guild of Students

[Laura is Community Action Officer for Birmingham’s Guild of Students.  She is involved in the activities of students in the local community and reducing any negative feeling associated with students in the area.]

Student Unionist of the Year

  • Tobin Webb – University of Bristol Students’ Union

Tobin Webb

[Tobin (pictured above) is UBU President.  For more information on his role, check this article in Epigram Online, Bristol University’s student paper.]

Course Representative of the Year

  • Thomas Gyr and Timur Jan Pinar – Northumbria Students’ Union

Thomas and Timur win as School Reps for the School of Design at Northumbria.  The Students’ Union explains all the hard work they have done.

Participation Award

As stated on their site:

“The award recognises the fabulous work your Executive Officers and Representatives have done over the past year to increase your participation in the Students’ Union, including: the biggest student elections in the country, reforms to the JCR system, and great plans for a new Student Volunteer Centre to launch in September.”

Campaign of the Year

FE Students’ Union of the Year

One of the judges for this award was Lynne Sedgmore, CEO for the Centre of Excellence in Leadership.  She said of Derby College SU:

The work of Derby College Student Union is clearly outstanding. In particular, the thoroughness, honesty and scope of their impact assessment is exemplary. Their community engagement, international work and student advice centres alongside their online training for course reps, for me was the deciding factor in picking them as the winners.”

HE Students’ Union of the Year

Mark Willoughby - Sheffield

Mark Willoughby (pictured above) is chuffed about this award.  After all, he is President of Sheffield’s Union.  He gives the lowdown here on his blog.

Equality and Diversity Award

Students’ Union Publication of the Year

Student Journalist of the Year

  • Matthew Holehouse (Oxford University Students’ Union)

Hazing in the UK: “I’d like a pint of vodka with my cup of tea…and I’ll drink it naked.”

Hazing is a term known in the US, but not generally one used here in the UK. It’s all about initiations into clubs and societies. It’s not usually pleasant and it has occasionally involved death.

A report has been released that suggests over half of all college students in the US have experienced hazing when involved in clubs and societies.

But what’s it like in a British uni?

From my experience, the nearest you’d get to an initiation was drinking until you’d collapsed and/or running around campus naked. And it wasn’t exactly compulsory. It may have been encouraged and frowned upon if you didn’t join in (peer pressure, here we come), but it rarely moved towards out and out bullying.

Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life…

Of course, sometimes it went too far. Yet the same can be said for drinking games, nights out, and so on. Most of us have, at times, gone a bit too far when having fun, joining in, getting over excited, and being pressured by peers. It’s not good, but it isn’t known for doing much harm in the long run.  What are your thoughts?

Wherever in the world you’re reading, have you experienced hazing, organised any initiations, or heard any stories of pranks that went wrong?

Some related articles:

Getting Involved – Upcoming Student Events & Activities

Certain events may be approaching quickly for students.  Don’t ignore them, get involved!

These are going to take place at slightly different times, dependent on which uni you’re at, but several activities and events take place around now that are well worth being a part of:

Refreshers Week

If you were overwhelmed by everything on offer in Fresher’s Week, here’s another chance to join up to the societies and groups available at uni.  Even if you already did all you wanted at the Fresher’s Fair, it’s worth revisiting this time to see how things take you now.  A lot can happen in a few months…you’ll be seeing things from a different light now.

“It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.”  –  Steve Jobs

RAG Week

It’s time to make some money for charity.  Watch fellow students do mental and weird stuff, then give generously!  Better still, get involved yourself.  Try to break a strange world record, do a strange stunt, go crazy around the campus, arrange a charity pub crawl, involve your society with RAG…there are so many possibilities.  And it’s all for a good cause.

“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”  –  Jack London


No sooner does one year start, the preparations are underway to find next year’s sabbatical officers and student reps.  Do you have good ideas to help your fellow students and your university?  Would you like your voice, as well as everyone else’s, to be heard?  Are you passionate about the future and what can be done to take things further?  If so, you need to get involved in the elections fast!

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”  –  Plato

It’s getting involved and participating in stuff like this that gives you scope to build upon your CV too.  Just think, having fun to improve your future opportunities and success.  How good is that!?

Top ten tips for students???

A few days ago, the Daily Telegraph had a Freshers’ Guide. It had some good info, including an article on homesickness, settling in to uni. I was impressed with the article and think they make a good point. A worthwhile EduLink.

I was less impressed with their ‘Top ten tips for students’. I think it needs explaining and a few corrections:

1. Join everything
There is an overwhelming number of clubs and societies you can join. This blog has already covered the difficulty and confusion in joining up for too many different groups. Yes, you can use them to get to know new people, but overkill tends to cancel out any benefit and replace it with confusion. As Nottingham University’s SU Societies Officer suggested, you should check the list of societies in advance (if possible at your uni), go to your Freshers’ Fayre with an open mind and enjoy picking a few societies that should help open up the possibilities to you.

2. Don’t drop people you know from home
I see no problem in this. But it’s always up to the individual to do what is right for them. Don’t feel pressured by people from home who keep wanting your company if you are having a wonderful time staying at university with new mates. Always weigh up the pros and cons to each situation.

3. Don’t put all your social eggs in one basket.
Apparently you should “avoid getting too “in” with one crowd right from the start”. This advice makes it sound as if you’ll be too late to make new friends if you spend the first few weeks with some brilliant people who suddenly turn out to be not so brilliant.

I have spoken to others who have had a similar experience to my own. From personal experience, my best friends who I still maintain regular contact with now were not the first “in” friends that I had. Things change and university is pretty reliable at allowing those changes to take place. I aim to write a bit more about making changes like this at some point in the near future.

4. Get a diary
This is actually good advice if you can keep a strict marker of things. It works even better if everyone else around you can keep track in a similar way. Unfortunately, it’s not always this simple, but I do agree that having a plan of what you’re doing with your time can help your work/life balance and give you the opportunity to shape things without resorting to hours of wasted time, trying to remember when a certain essay is due in and when you agreed to go out drinking with some different mates.

5. Get real (i.e. off campus)
I wasn’t sure about this one. The main advice is to mix with people outside of the academic world.

To be totally honest, I didn’t do that and I don’t feel I’ve missed anything at all. Okay, so I may be biased in that my passions lie in Higher Education, but it didn’t get in the way of my life after university and I still had a lot of fantastic opportunities. I didn’t feel like the outside world had become alien to me!

6. Get yourself a flattering mirror
In a nutshell, boost yourself in whatever way possible. This is sound advice, strangely given. Try boosting your confidence with these tips from Ririan Project, TheSite, To-Done, and iVillage.

7. Don’t go home every weekend
The Telegraph article says “It’s running away and it panics your parents”. I agree with this tip, because you’ll be missing out on certain aspects of student life if you ignore the time when lectures and seminars don’t much happen.

Weekend at uni can be a strange affair. You never know what’s going to happen…sometimes nothing, sometimes the whole scene kicks off as if it’s the last day we have on earth. And a quiet weekend, especially an empty library on a Sunday morning, can work wonders for your study.

Of course, if you have a special reason for going home every weekend, then please don’t let us stop you!

8. Don’t get drunk more than once a week.
Well, that depends on the definition of ‘drunk’. If you drink alcohol (and it’s fairly likely, let’s be honest), you know it’s going to change your mind and body to an extent.

If you get absolutely slaughtered on a regular basis, then your status certainly won’t remain at ‘hero’ level. And if you can’t remember what happened each night, how are you going to be able to argue with that?

But if you end up drinking a little too much, most of your friends won’t even notice, because they will probably have had one too many themselves.

Of course, I’m totally ignoring the health issues regarding alcohol. That’s a different matter. But in terms of status, you’d have to be on a death wish to be deemed a saddo. A sign of approaching saddo status is regularly falling over for no apparent reason during/after a night out. Another is when you wonder how you’ve gone from ‘dressed and ready to go out at night’ to ‘in bed with headache and still dressed in the morning’ without any sense of time passing.

9. Do wash
Maybe I just went to a clean university, but I didn’t get the feeling there were many people who had a problem remembering what a shower and a sink was for.  It didn’t stop them from using those facilities for various other purposes too, but we won’t go there…

10. Keep the booklet
Ah, I see. The Telegraph article has left the best advice for last. I, in fact, wholeheartedly agree that your student welfare booklet and any other welcoming/supporting gumph should be kept safely. You never know when you’re going to need it. And when most people need something like that, they haven’t a clue where to find it.

And if it’s a sensitive and personal matter that you don’t want other people to know about, you probably don’t even want to rely on the organised person who has kept everything.