Why So Serious? Warwick Socs Should Ease Up

Originally published Jan 2011 by The Boar

As many people head to Warwick for the first time, it’s likely that one of the things they are most looking forward to is ‘getting involved’. We are told throughout college and by older university students that it’s all about ‘getting involved’. University is advertised not only as an academic experience, but a social experience, the kind of which cannot be found anywhere else. The brochures depict a university full to the brim with every society you can think of and teams for even the most bizarre sports. Societies are an integral part of the social experience at any university, but at Warwick is it really that easy to ‘get involved’ in the many and varied societies?

As a second year, I felt it was time to make the most of the facilities available to me — it was time to commit to societies and sports clubs. I was really keen to take up a new sport at the beginning of the year, and where better to do this than at a university with over however many sports clubs?

After a few weeks of trying, I eventually had to give up and take up jogging.

One club told me straight out that there was no room for beginners, while a few others failed to reply to my emails asking for more information. I have received similar responses from lots of societies as well, with rejections mostly being because I ‘lack experience’ at whatever it is I want to do.

This may seem like a silly question, but how are people supposed to gain experience when a university society (remembering this is the place where we are supposed to immerse ourselves in life to grow as people and learn new skills) rejects you? And rejects you for being what most people who come to university are, inexperienced?

I expect plenty of people reading this will have in fact been welcomed with open arms into all of their chosen societies, which is great. I am not saying that all societies behave the same — on the contrary, I’ve had really good experiences with a few societies as well (the Boar being the obvious). Unfortunately, it seems that these societies have been in the minority though.

My friends at other universities are always regaling me with tales about what happened when they accidentally turned up to a Goth Soc meeting and really enjoyed it. Or about how they blagged their way into Tae-Kwando lessons or impulsively joined the Bench Ball team despite never having played before. This is the kind of fun spontaneity that lots of people associate with going to university but I fear that perhaps, to a small extent, this has been lost at Warwick.

Some may say that the reason for this seeming exclusivity is that a little restriction is needed to maintain the standard of sports teams and organisations.

This could be a valid point. However, it seems a bit harsh when you think of people who are passionate about a cause, hobby or sport are to be rejected because they are seen to be sub-standard. Why have all of our societies and clubs become so serious and competitive? Yes, it’s true that we can’t totally lose this edge, but at the same time we need to keep hold of the fun, casual side of societies. That way, the people who don’t want to, or who aren’t able to rise to this competitive standard can still ‘get involved’ and enjoy all that Warwick has to offer.

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