We have university societies set up across the UK and we want CND to become a staple society at most universities- with your help! Here’s a guide to how we’ve set up societies in the past, but it’s by no means the only way to get going.
First things to consider
Each university will have their own individual way in which you can start up a society. Go online or speak to your Student Union directly to find out the most effective way to get started as an official society.
Set up a regular meeting time and place, like the first Wednesday of every month in a certain room at your university- you’ll be able to book a room on campus through your Student Union.
Will you charge a membership fee? See what other societies with similar aims are charging- you don’t want to exclude people but it helps to have some money for events and materials.
Speaking of materials… get promoting! You have permission to be a society, an agreed time and meeting place- now you need people. Consider setting up a Facebook event or flyering outside busy places on campus.
Your first meeting
Make sure your first meeting is as open, accessible, and social as possible.
Keep it informal – a good start would be an introduction to CND’s aims and campaigns, or an introduction to the UK’s nuclear weapons. PowerPoints and short films are always a good way to help introduce the massive topic that is Nuclear Disarmament.
Remember to send an email reminder the day before using the mailing list from the fresher’s fair. Most universities have their own bulk mailing system – however if yours does not, or you are unsure of how to use it, Mail Chimp is a fantastic and free alternative.
Free food is always a draw! Advertising the meeting as a ‘Welcome social with free pizza’ is likely to attract far more people than just a ‘CND society meeting.’
At the meeting, give a brief talk about your chosen topic. You should be able to find all the information you need in our briefings and info sheets. You could structure the talk around the history of CND, its original aims, some of its most notable campaigns, and where we are now – or you could give an outline of the main arguments against nuclear weapons.
At the meeting, get people enthusiastic about being involved. Make it clear what your aims are for the next few months, and how you plan to get there. Talk about any events you have planned, and give examples of what other CND societies have achieved – give your members something to aspire to!
Give students the opportunity to take on a committee role within the society. (see below for more a more detailed list of potential committee roles). After the meeting, you might want to go off to a nearby pub or the Union bar so people can get to know each other a bit more. You’re much more likely to get people to keep coming back to meetings when they know a few of the other people there, and know that there’ll be a drink at the end of it.
Make sure you follow up the meeting with an email thanking everyone for coming and reminders about your next event. Keep your social media accounts active, so it’s easy for anyone to see what you’re up to and get involved.
Your first month as a society
By now you will be in the full swing of things with your society. As a new society, things will constantly change to suit different people’s needs and wants, and this is to be expected! Good communication between the committee and members is the best way to ensure that everyone is happy with the direction that the society is going.
Josh Foskett, from University of York CND (UoY CND) said,
“We make sure to have weekly meetings, which usually have a specific draw to them: i.e. one week we might be bringing in our local MP, the next we might be watching Threads. I think it works really well for engagement when you can try to consistently put on “an event” as such, rather than just a standard meeting (although these can work really well in lower amounts to fill the gaps)”
It would probably be best to have a semester long campaign (either two or three campaigns a year max!). This way, you and your members can really get your teeth stuck into a campaign. Get prominent people involved, invite local MPs, have speakers to come in and hold a debate within your society.
The great thing about having a university society is the sheer volume of different things you are allowed to try. You can get as creative as you want to with your campaigns, protests, meetings and fundraisers.
Ideally, you would meet weekly – this way you are more likely to keep people engaged with your society as a whole and are more likely to keep members engaged. If you decide one week not to have a meeting, do encourage the group to get together, even if it’s for a social night or a coffee afternoon.
In addition, it would be good in the first several weeks to arrange a fundraiser. This will achieve two things; firstly, it will show that you are a pro-active society that is worth remaining a member for, and secondly, you will increase your funds that you have to play with in the future for other events. Funds are important to get more resources, subsidising member’s travel of going to National CND events or to see how much money you can raise and give to CND at the end of the year!
If you are successful in setting up a society at your university, please get in contact with Youth and Student CND and let us know! We can offer you support and guidance throughout your time at university with regards to the CND society; giving you some ideas, sending resources or simply promoting your events on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.