UCD’s Literary & Historical Society (L&H) passed the 5,000 members mark at this year’s Freshers’ Week. As it stands, the L&H signed up 5,104 members, which, according to the society’s auditor, Christine Simpson, breaks the L&H’s previous record for the highest number of sign-ups of 4,816 set three years ago.
After a modest return in 2010/11, the L&H also became this year’s most popular society, forcing LawSoc into second place. Simpson describes the week as having gone “absolutely brilliantly” and puts the society’s success down to the dedication of its committee members; “The committee worked so unbelievably hard. I think the more people we had around the stand and generating interest, getting people involved was always going to pay off in terms of membership figures.”
In addition to the effort put in by the society’s prominent members, Simpson judges that the range of events and competitions held by the L&H during Freshers’ Week played a vital role in their success. “We had loads of things going on during the week. We had the sex before marriage debate, the comedian Paul Foot was in on Tuesday, the ‘Where’s Wally?’ competition.” The prize for the competition was a sky diving voucher worth €360.
As a result of several notable guests pulling out of appearances last year, all societies must now have confirmation for guest appearances before publicising them. Guests of the L&H this year include physicist and former pop star, Brian Cox, Oscar-winning composer, Hans Zimmer and celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal.
Regarding the belief that the L&H has commanded a guest list of higher intellectual calibre this year, Simpson maintains that “the most interesting people are the people with a fantastic CV,” rather than figures of towering celebrity. She also believes that all of this year’s confirmed guests have “really made a contribution to their field and the world that we are living in now.”
With LawSoc suffering a disappointing return, Simpson was quick to downplay any rivalry between UCD’s two largest societies. “Our focus is not on competing with, or comparing ourselves to, another society.” She goes on to suggest that such rivalries would repel potential members. “Often I think that looks negative to new members signing-up. So, if you have a negative campaign, I think it will detract from both societies rather than being positive and looking forward to events that are to come.”
Simpson also refused to be led on the allegations made by Janet Templeton (the wife of actor, Martin Sheen) directed at LawSoc and any potentially negative affect it may have had on the society this year: “Every society will be impacted by their previous sessions, but I think that could have affected any of the societies. I think they did a fantastic job during Freshers’ Week.”