This year the Student’s Union decided to overhaul the system used at Fresher’s Fayre by which individuals subscribe to societies. According to Patrick ‘Crouchy’ Hopkins, ‘the main reason was to make clubs and societies more transparent and accessible. Also, similar Unions who have implemented this system found that membership revenue increased dramatically. We’re currently gathering feedback on the new system in order to improve it for the rest of this year and next year – we will have a lot more tills next year too! If you missed Freshers’ Fayre, don’t forget you can sign up online to both sports clubs (www.su.nottingham.ac.uk/sports) and societies (www.su.nottingham.ac.uk/societies).’
For the new system
Josh Green, Social Secretary for the Filmmaking Society.
I was signing-up new members for the Filmmaking Society during Freshers Fayre and found that the new system of barcodes had many benefits. The queues at each stall were considerably shorter than in previous years. This meant that students could spend longer on each stand talking to committee members and finding out about their chosen societies. They could also get round more stalls, rather than being put off by long waiting times. The barcode system was simple to use by both committee members and students. Scanning did take a bit of time, but is inevitable with over 4000 new students and just another long queue that students face in Week One: registration, health centre sign-up, in the dining hall, and outside clubs. Many students had filled up their yellow leaflets indicating healthy membership numbers for sports teams and societies. Overall, Freshers Fayre seemed a lot less crowded, except at the free pizza stall!
It was a great benefit that stallholders didn’t have to handle money as this simplified the whole process. There was no need for a change float, and the transaction could be done in one go at the end. Another feature this year was that students could join mailing lists and pay for memberships online. I know that many second and third years did this, but perhaps many freshers were unaware of this option and seemed to think they had to sign up at the event. The online system was set up much like any other online shopping website, so students could simply and quickly add societies and sports teams to their shopping basket and then pay by debit card.
Against the new system
Unlike Freshers’ Fayre 2007, this year students were dealing with lengthy queues and system breakdowns when trying to join sports clubs and societies. Not only did it leave attendees frustrated, it also left many organisations with fewer members than last year.
The general feeling towards queuing was expressed on the third day of the Fayre by David Talbot, a third year: ‘This is the second time I’ve come to try to sign up for wakeboarding and this is the second time I’m leaving because of ridiculous waiting times. There was nothing wrong with the old system, why did they change it?’ Adding to the confusion was the option to sign up online, which was neither well advertised nor fully understood by the majority of students.
The old system of paying sports clubs and societies directly involved less queuing, less confusion and more members as a result. It is true that the new system had potential, but its problems need to be ironed out by next year in order to silence calls for a return to the old system.