Setting up a University Society

Building a world free from nuclear weapons

Are you a member of a university?

If you’re a member of a university, then one great way to campaign for a world free from nuclear weapons is to set up a CND society at your university. It’s the perfect opportunity to start conversations, raise awareness, and draw out the link between education and disarmament.


With your help, CND can become a staple of every university campus in the UK. You don’t need any experience and we’ll support you all the way, so get in touch if you think this might be the action for you.


We’ve put together this guide to setting up a society, but there are loads of ways to go about this and every university is different. Think about what would work best in your setting. You can also use this guide if you want to set up a society at your school, although some of the steps might not be so relevant!

However much time and energy you have to give to your new society, it will be much stronger and more likely to have a great legacy if you can build a strong core team as you get going.

When building your team, think about what skills you’ve got and what other skills you might need in your team. You might be a great behind the scenes administrator, so you might be looking for someone who is a great public communicator. You might be great at organising direct action, so why not look for someone with experience of online action or policy expertise to complement your skills?

Bear in mind that some universities will require some roles to be filled before you register your society – for example, a treasurer.

Every university will work slightly differently, but there are some good places to look for your team beyond your immediate circle of friends. Social media is a good place to start, or the mailing lists of other societies which might have an interest in yours.

Now you’ve got your crack squad together, it’s time to make things official. Every university will have its own individual way you can start a society and affiliate officially with the students’ union, if you want to. 

You may need to submit a constitution or fill certain roles to affiliate officially with your university or your SU. Affiliation can come with some perks, including funding opportunities and the opportunity to have a stall at freshers’ fair. If your university requires additional documents, there will be templates and examples provided – but drop us a line if you run into difficulty and we can help out with any issues.

Now your society is official, it’s time to get going!

You might want to hold a regular meeting (once a month or once a term) to discuss the society, any campaign actions, events you’d like to plan, or anything else. You can hold these online or in person somewhere on campus.

Plan in some events or campaign actions for your first few terms. You don’t want to take on too many different things – focus on a couple of key aims and really push these. If you’re looking for speakers, get in touch with us or just email people directly if you have some ideas. Aim high – high-profile speakers attract a new crowd.

Events which reach beyond the people who already agree with you are ideal. Try to reach people who don’t know much about nuclear disarmament, or people who actively disagree, as well as people who you already know agree with you. To achieve nuclear disarmament we need lots of different people on side. Why not host a disarmament 101 session, or a panel debate taking in some different views?

Freshers’ Fair is a key place to promote your society. Get in touch with us and we can send you some materials to use at the fair, including leaflets. Try to get as many email sign-ups as you can and engage in some meaningful, awareness-raising conversations!

Don’t worry if you miss the fair, though. There are loads of other ways to promote your society. Why not flyer a busy place on campus or use social media to promote your events and campaigns? Or, could you stick up posters all round campus, including in accommodation buildings?

Make sure your meetings are accessible, open, and friendly. Don’t assume people know as much as you do about nuclear weapons!

Remember to send a reminder email out to your mailing list, using MailChimp or your university’s mailing list software. Send a follow-up thank you email with any minutes or informal notes you’ve taken as well, so people who couldn’t make the meeting can see that you’re active and effective.

Free food and drink is a good draw to meetings. Keep it informal, friendly, and fun, and don’t get too caught up in procedure and internal society policies if you can. Don’t use acronyms or jargon without explaining them either!

Raising awareness, having socials, and holding informational events are all really key parts of being an effective CND society. But we also want to make a practical difference, and that’s where running campaigns comes in.

The context of every university is slightly different, and it’s good to make sure that your campaigns suit your university. A good place to start might be checking how your university invests – are they invested in nuclear weapons, and could you campaign to change this? Find out more here.

Try to run a few big campaigns focused on specific issues, especially in areas where you can make a difference. Perhaps you could campaign for your SU to take a position on nuclear weapons, or team up with another society to demonstrate the links between nuclear weapons and another issue like climate change?

Check out what YSCND are doing in our campaigns department for some inspiration and let us know what you get up to.

You don’t need loads of money to make your society effective, but a little bit does go a really long way,

One way to raise some money is to hold a fundraiser.

Another is to apply for funds from your central university, or get in touch with YSCND to see if central CND could provide you with a small budget for the year.

Another is to charge a membership fee. If this is common in your university, it can be a good idea – but remember, we want CND to be open to as many people as possible, so this is definitely something to weigh up carefully.

You’re unlikely to be at the university forever, so it’s important to think about how to ensure your society doesn’t immediately fold after you leave. 

The best way to do this is to make sure that there are plenty of people actively involved with your society, and that you don’t remain the president/chair for longer than a year. Making sure that lots of different people, including those new to the university, have the opportunity to take on important committee roles is a great way of getting people to buy into your society.

If your campaigns and events are high-profile and well-publicised, and you communicate the mission and importance of the society effectively, hopefully you’ll be able to set up a long-lasting society.

And finally… stay in touch!

We want to hear from you at every stage and support you in whatever your society is doing. We can act as your link to CND, help with speakers, give you a hand with promotion, and pool our knowledge to make sure we are all running effective campaigns.