£5 may not seem like a lot, but it builds up. Even then, £5 is the bare minimum, and in fact many societies drive it up higher and higher. Last year, I had to pay £40 for membership to my course society, even though most events had expensive tickets of their own. I did get a hoodie though, so that’s something, I guess?
A lot of societies that just want to be a place to meet and have discussion with like-minded people have to impose a minimum £5 membership fee. This puts people off, especially in a year where not much is happening society wise. A membership fee also discourages people who are only just learning about an interest or are just getting into something. It stops them from fully being able to enjoy the activity. How many people would’ve considered joining a society if it didn’t have a membership fee? Lower numbers of people at societies also ruins them for everyone else involved, including committee members that have worked hard on events. The freshers' fair was atrocious and an absolute shambles this year. This is probably in no small part due to membership fees being charged, when all events are through a computer screen!
Of course, a good amount of societies require funding for activities, but membership payments simply aren’t the only money societies get. The University gives societies grants based on how many people join. The price of joining undoubtedly lowers the amount of people joining. Therefore, the price lowers the amount of money the University has to shell out to its societies. Additionally, is it not wiser to have ticket costs for events that require setup costs? Surely this beats a blanket sum imposed on people who just want to try out a new society and aren't willing to commit to a payment.
Student societies are a valuable part of the university experience, and it shouldn’t be up to the students to fully finance them. The University takes £9250 a year from us, even more from international students. Are we really supposed to believe it can't section off a tiny sliver of that to fund societies? Meeting people to do things you like shouldn’t be put behind a paywall.
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