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21st April 2021

Missing Money, Broken Membership System: Societies’ Rising Discontent With Student’s Union

UoM’s society committees draw light on a frustrating year of operating under lockdown restrictions alongside an unresponsive Student’s Union
Missing Money, Broken Membership System: Societies’ Rising Discontent With Student’s Union
Manchester’s Student Union Photo: @vitastudent

It has certainly been a hard year for all societies. Unable to organise in-person events, societies have to adapt and innovate new ways to interact with their members. It has come to our attention that around 15 chairs of societies are planning to make a public petition to address the issues such as finance, staffing and regulation with the Student’s Union

A society member revealed to us that their society has experienced missing money with the account they set up with the Students’ Union:

“There is a £2k discrepancy between our summer statement and October statement. The SU was unable to locate the missing funds and became unresponsive to our emails due to staff change. This was after weeks of not being able to access our bank accounts and a broken membership system”.

With missing funds and a broken membership system alongside Covid-19 restrictions, it is clear that societies are struggling to operate this year, as another committee member said “The Students’ Union has been more of a challenge to us than an aid”.

Another chair of a society also shared their financial issues with the SU. “In January we requested our society’s finance code. We were using this code to ask for payments from third parties and sending extra income back to our account. We realised we were given the wrong code. Even after several reminder emails the SU still hasn’t gotten back to us.” Financial support is key to keeping societies to afloat. Missing finances and miscommunication only adds to the additional strains on societies this year.

Administrative issues were also raised “we applied to be given a slot during the virtual societies fair. However, on the day of the event, we were told we were never given a slot.”

“I feel embarrassed to be part of a Student Union that so actively ignores the needs of its societies and members.”

There are currently 400 societies at The University of Manchester. However, there is currently only one societies coordinator in charge of all societies’ affairs. It is clear that the SU has neglected societies this year, seen in the rising discontent and examples of mismanagement and miscommunication.

The group has had a conversation with the Development and Activities officer, Carol. Carol restated her priority is on societies and there are many plans to improve the current situation, with the focus on software improvements, which has been long delayed.

Chairs of societies are currently organising to write a letter demanding reform. The team is aiming to have their letter and information ready for the next board of trustees meeting in mid-April.

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