Student societies: take the leap!

Published: 09 October 2017 Ezine

Author: Laura Welsh

Second to achieving my degree, the greatest achievement I had at university was the enhancement of the Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) radiography society. 

The society was established in 2012 and initially worked alongside the Radiotherapy Society until their amalgamation in 2015.

It was set up to provide social events and fundraising for local charities and the society has gone from strength to strength, being shortlisted in the GCU Students Association Awards for Best Society twice.

When I started university I made a promise to myself not to pass up any opportunity, so I took on part time employment at GCU as a student mentor.

The mentorship programme gives rise to social change, encouraging people to pursue opportunities in higher education regardless of financial or educational background.

Through this opportunity I expanded my knowledge about the university and got involved in the student’s association (union).

The student’s association provide advice and support for the running of social, academic and sports clubs which are organised by students for a common goal. 

Each year, they provide training to enhance the skills of the committees in terms of event organisation, finance, advertising and marketing etc. 

All UK universities have a student’s association/union or student body that should be able to provide this support, these resources are university specific so please check with your own student body for specific guidelines.

The simplest events to arrange are social events based in your student union, such as movie nights (great for Halloween – particularly if it falls on a week night) and meet and eats – free events with food and games for people to get to know others in a relaxed environment. 

Our most successful events have always been bake sales; radiography students certainly know how to bake and if they don’t, they are very generous when it comes to donations for the treats. 

You can either raise funds for your society, or, when you’re more established and have a good account balance it’s great to be able to donate the funds to charity! 

For the last two years we have also co-ordinated volunteers for daredevil stunts, in 2016 we did a bungee jump and in 2017, an abseil. Over the years we have raised more than £3000 for various Scottish charities.

In April 2016 we hosted the ‘Rad Ball’ which was an extremely popular night. 

It was an excuse for everyone to get dressed up and celebrate the end of exams, the venue treated us like royalty and it was the highlight of the year. 

This year, we attempted to host the event earlier in the year and ticket sales didn’t go to plan and the event was cancelled. 

I think it is important to highlight that, although most of your events will go to plan, you might find a couple of them fall apart, it’s all trial and error to see what suits your student cohort best. 

Additionally we have worked with the Glasgow Science Centre and local schools to promote the radiography profession. 

Click here to read the article by our committee member Sarah Zycinski about the success of these events. 

Through links with the GCU mentorship programme we have also worked with high school pupils on projects simulating a zombie outbreak – explaining the use of chest x-rays in identifying the infected – and a murder investigation, introducing students to radiographic forensics.

One of the societies greatest achievements was the 1st Annual Inter-University Conference (IUC). 

We coordinated our own study day with endorsement from CPD Now and a host of speakers from both Diagnostic Imaging and Radiotherapy and Oncology backgrounds. 

The 2nd IUC was held at Robert Gordon University in October 2016 and the 3rd will be hosted by Queen Margaret University (QMU) on the 11th November 2017. 

Ticket prices start at £14.40, for more information and to book click here.

In April 2017, I attended the Annual Delegates Conference in Leeds (which is open for students to attend, keep an eye on updates here). 

All of the student delegates were introduced to Nichola Smith, the Student Membership Officer, she met with us to discuss the best way to support student members of the SoR. 

We talked at length about support for University Radiography Societies and invited Nichola to meet with committee members from both GCU and Queen Margaret Universities (QMU). 

This was a terrific opportunity to discuss the help the SoR could provide, but also to assist the QMU committee with the organisation of the IUC.

So why volunteer? 

  • You will have experience of teamwork with other radiography students – people you may be working with in future
  • A sense of accomplishment when events come together successfully and something to reflect and learn from if they do not
  • Various activities that can contribute to CPD enhancement, allowing you to develop other skills to expand on as a practitioner
  • Administration skills – evidence of organisational ability
  • Liaison and networking – I have networked with the SoR for the last three years, developing contacts in industrial radiography, forensics, mammography and radiotherapy to name a few
  • Developing innovative ideas and delivering them – e.g. Our 2013 leaflet for patients on the importance of Moving and Handling, and how they can protect staff

The GCU radiotherapy society had retention issues from the years below, and when the 4th years left university, the society disbanded.

The 2016/17 GCU radiography society consisted of eight 4th years and two 3rd years. 

Every fourth year said the same thing “I really wish I’d been involved in the society earlier than now”. 

By getting involved early, I have been able to focus on progression and not just understanding the basics of the way a society is run. 

I have been able to collate society administration to ensure successful events are continued and ensure that past mistakes are documented to prevent them happening again. This means that the society can continue to progress rather than starting from scratch with each new committee. 

I encourage any student who thinks they might like to get involved to take the leap and do something inspiring and worthwhile with any spare time they have at university.