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Meet MUSKI: Manchester’s new, better-behaved snowsports club

The Independent Manchester Snowsports Society (MUSKI) is the brand new, reincarnated version of the former Ski and Snowboard Club (SKUM).

Hailing independence and positivity in the future of the snowsports social scene, the club is taking steps to move away from its painful history and attempting to make itself more conscious and inclusive.

SKUM was suspended indefinitely from Athletics Union (AU) activities after a Mancunion investigation found over 40 pieces of evidence showing incidents of blackface, preying on freshers, public sex acts, and destruction of property.

Following the investigation, the society vowed to tackle damaging behaviours and become more socially responsible.

Now, in an exclusive interview with The Mancunion, MUSKI reveals the society’s goals following SKUM’s disbandment.

The club aims to change its image for the better, and dedicate itself to sustainability, inclusivity, and affordability.

“MUSKI was formed to bring snow lovers of Manchester together, in a community where they can share, form friendships and support each other,” a spokesperson said.

“SKUM’s suspension by the University following The Mancunion’s article made us realise that the changes we were making in our culture weren’t happening fast enough, and that a history of bad reputation was still haunting the club. MUSKI came about to start fresh, with a caring snowsports community, conscious and proud of its values.”

“We have acknowledged the issues within our inherited culture and promised ourselves to keep only the good times”

MUSKI has introduced free memberships for social members, so that students can first get to know the “community” and then decide if they also want to take part in sporting events.

“Inclusiveness is one of the fundamental values we have built the club around,” the spokesperson added.

“We will be subsidising events as much as possible, and providing members with free events when government regulations authorise it.

“Dissociation from SKUM, we feel, has happened already. With a fresh start, values firmly defined, and dated traditions forgotten, we are an entirely new club.

“The behaviours displayed in The Mancunion‘s article last year truly shocked SKUM members. As part of the snowsports community, we have acknowledged the issues within our inherited culture and promised ourselves to keep only the good times, joy, and support our community brings us.”

“We call upon our members to think and act responsibly for themselves and their peers”

The club is also taking steps to ensure members understand incidents of blackface, destroying property, and sexual assault are unacceptable and cannot be repeated moving forward.

“We will be taking a firm stance against all antisocial behaviour, making sure people are called out on toxic attitudes and explained why such behaviour is harmful,” the spokesperson went on.

“Those past events have made us realise that we must all be concerned with preventing and remedying to these behaviours, which is why we also call upon our members to think and act responsibly for themselves and their peers, as well as obey the code of conduct set out for every activity.”

“Considering the recent COVID restrictions, we’re exploring new ways to support and provide for our members

It appears that MUSKI is moving towards a more peaceful, inclusive, and respectful domain that hails a new and positive social scene for snowsports in Manchester.

But moving away from SKUM and defining themselves by a new ethos isn’t the only challenge presented in the current climate, as a prevailing student mental health crisis demands mitigation.

In 2018, the AU introduced the new role of Student Wellbeing Officer in every society. Responsibilities now include:

  • Representing a point of contact for club members experiencing any mental health difficulties
  • Enacting and overseeing club mental health action plans
  • Ensuring the club is an inclusive environment that tackles stigma and promotes wellbeing
  • Disseminating wellbeing messages to club members and conducting mental health campaigns

Despite no longer being affiliated with the AU, MUSKI insists it will dedicate committee roles to promoting wellbeing and encouraging positive mental health action plans: “Having a strong, supportive network of friends is so important when times are tough. Members can count on MUSKI to embody that support.

“We will also be using our social media platforms to raise awareness around mental health issues and promote well-being.

“Considering the recent COVID restrictions, we’re exploring new ways to support and provide for our members, like online yoga classes, gym groups, remote movie screenings, and a platform to reach out.

“Our committee members have all taken on wellbeing as a part of their role, staying informed on the right way to help and making sure they’re always there to listen.”

“Members will have the opportunity to discover and expand their love for snowsports in an easy-going, non-pressure environment”

Without AU’s funding, MUSKI anticipates a tighter budget this year. They remain confident, however, that this won’t affect affordability for its members: “The tight budget will likely mean that professional coaching will have to be replaced by members helping each other out and captains setting up practice drills.

Despite a tighter wallet, they say working with charities to fight climate change remains an issue close to their hearts. MUSKI will support the Protect Our Winters campaign and take part in Movember and other mental health charities.

The interview ends with the expression of pride over what the club has already achieved and what the future holds: “[Our members] can expect to be a part of a buzzing, fun, loving community where they can find support and make lifelong friends.”

Tags: Manchester skiing club, Manchester skiing society, Manchester snowsports society, muski, skiing society, SKUM, snowsports society

Mollie Simpson

Features Editor and freelance writer elsewhere
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