Societies at Newcastle University prepare for social distancing guidelines

Gemma Powell on how societies at Newcastle University plan to adjust to local lockdown and associated social distancing measures

Gemma Powell
24th September 2020
Societies are finding it increasingly difficult to plan activities as the government impose a local lockdown

Alex Battersby, president of the Comedy society, details plans to host stand-up and sketch sessions either online or at an available park. However, this all depends on whether gatherings of thirty people outdoors are allowed once again. For now, the comedy club have to move all activities to online and radio-format.

Arts societies are especially impacted by the restrictions in place, and despite having spent the summer organising different ways to run their activities, plans are still up in the air, says Battersby.

The society realise that keeping members updated and connected by social media will be important this year, as plans may change on a weekly basis.

Image: creazilla

The Feminist Society at Newcastle University inform The Courier that they will use online spaces to continue both their socials, and their activist work.

For example, Femsoc president Harriot Sloane says that they will be holding three online campaigns in semester 1 alone: Black History Month, International Stress Awareness Week and UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Alongside these campaigns, exciting online events such as bingo, a live feminist art market, a book club and self-care sessions (intersectionalitea) have been planned for Femsoc members. The society is keen to continue to provide a safe space for vulnerable and marginalised groups of students.

We all hope that the activities we have come up with will allow students to socialise as much as possible

Harriot Sloane, president of the Feminist Society
Image: pxfuel

“It has been a challenge to develop events that get the same amount of engagement from students as previous in-person events" says Sloane.

"We all hope that the activities we have come up with will allow students to socialise as much as possible.”

Newcastle's mathematics society are taking a similar approach: despite being known for their weekly pub quiz and metro bar crawl, the club are planning to move all their socials online in the upcoming academic year.

From the comfort of their own home, members of mathsoc will be able to participate in quizzes, bingo nights and a fantasy premier league.

Some societies plan to use online events to their advantage. Filmsoc tell The Courier that their heads of production are creating lessons in solo film-making in order to make the most of members' at home locations.

Filmsoc will also continue to host Netflix Parties and BBC Together on a Wednesday, and live stream their radio show via zoom every Saturday. Online pub quizzes and ‘pitchstorm’, (a party game where you can pitch movie ideas), will be carried out on their discord server.

For the Disability and Neurodiversity Society, activities for the entirety of semester 1 will be online regardless of restrictions, says secretary Gemma Powell.

“Certain groups of students, such as former shielders and international students, are unable to make it to campus so it is important to make sure all societies are planning accessible events".

The Disability and Neurodiversity Society plan to continue their discussions on different aspects that affect the community via weekly coffee mornings and the occasional zoom quiz.

"With our society, we plan to have subtitled and audio described watch-alongs so that no student on our campus feels isolated and unable to participate in socials because of a disability"

Gemma Powell, Disability and Neurodiversity Society secretary
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