Society Membership Distorted by Restrictions

Originally published in Volume II, Issue 2 on 12th October 1995 by Sinead Ingoldsby & Deirdre Kennedy. The restrictions imposed by the UCD authorities on the activities of college societies and clubs during this year’s Freshers’ Week have resulted in a distorted pattern in membership numbers. Many of the sports clubs were particularly incensed by their treatment at the hands of the week’s organisers, feeling that they have been discriminated against by being allocated stands outside which many captains claimed had a disastrous effect on the number of people they were capable of recruiting. The Fencing Club suffered a sharp drop in their membership form 80 to 10 and the Trampoline club expressed grave concern at their ability to finance the Irish Intervarsities, which they are due to host this year, as a result of the decline in their recruitment from 58 last year to this year’s 22.Mark McGrail, Sub Aqua Club captain went as far as to say that many of the major clubs has been “dumped outside” and had been “treated in contempt” by Ents Officer John Mitchell. The practicalities of attempting to recruit members in the wind and rain were also questioned by many of those who were forced to remain outside. Many of the larger societies appear to have gained from the reduced presence of stands in the Arts concourse. L&H auditor, Ian Walsh, conceded that the dramatic increase in his society’s membership from 600 to over 1500 was in part due to this fact, while also crediting a big advertising campaign, a reduction in the membership fee and four organised debates in Freshers’ Week. Similarly, the Arts Society attributed the 30% rise in its membership to a “less chaotic Arts block”. Dramsoc maintained their previous year’s membership of 800 and the Law Society almost doubled their number of members to reach a final figure in excess of 900. C&E admitted to being pleased with their 1700 members, despite this representing a marginal decline on last year’s membership. Auditor Patrick Lennon congratulated his diligent committee, which he believed to have been working against the odds, no doubt considering the controversy surrounding certain C&E events last year. Filmsoc deviated from this trend reporting a reduction of approximately 150 in their membership, although a source close to the committee claim this reduced membership to the in the region of of five hundred. Both the History society and the English Literary Society reported a fall in membership, while other class based societies including the Politics and the Philosophy societies were somewhat disappointed with a stagnant membership, despite the high profile both societies enjoyed last year. Auditor of Polsoc, Pol O Gradaigh called for “greater pluralism in the society scene” as he believes many of the smaller societies have lost out to the superior resources of the larger societies in college. An Cumann Gaelach maintained last year’s membership, while fellow Irish language society, Aisteoiri Ildaite, saw a significant decline in membership. The political parties remained relatively unchanged, Fianna Fail’s Kevin Barry Cumann continuing to boast the largest number of enrolled members at 234. Amnesty International and the Animal Rights Society both declined by more than 50 members and One World Society only increased slightly despite of its highly publicised campaigning and widespread support in last year’s Nestle referendum. Co-auditor, Nessa Cassidy criticised the lack of discussion with societies and the late notification of the changes regarding the organisation of this year’s Freshers' Week as well as echoing the widely felt dissatisfaction at the “forbidding presences of Services in the Arts Concourse.”