Societies: what's available, where to find them and how to join them


Thinking of joining a society? Katy Leverett explains how to get involved with different societies during your time at university

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Image by Katy Leverett

By Katy Leverett

For most students, one of the highlights of their university experience is the societies they join whilst studying. At York, there are over 200 clubs and societies to choose from; ranging from sports clubs to craft to salt tasting. And what’s more, you can try them all! First year is the perfect time to try out a variety of different societies: many will be holding taster sessions throughout the next few weeks, so branch out and give anything that sparks your interest a try.

The sheer majority of societies on offer can be a little overwhelming. If you’re not sure where to start, or aren’t quite sure what interests you, head over to YUSU’s website to check out the A-Z list of York’s societies and clubs. This will help you get a flavour of what is on offer and may spark some unexpected interests. The majority of societies at York also have social media pages, which will often be listed on their page on the YUSU website. If a society interests you, check out their social media to see what they’ve been up to in the last year: this will give you an indication of how active they are as a student group as well as what kind of events you can expect if you choose to join.

Once you’ve checked out their social media, and if you are still interested, the next stage is to seek them out at the freshers’ fair. In the days leading up to this, student groups and YUSU will advertise a map of all the stalls which will be at the event. Look at this in advance and map out with your flatmates or friends where you’d like to go ahead of time, as the queues can get very long! This will give you the perfect opportunity to ask the society you’re interested in any questions you have and find out some more directly from them. You might also be able to pick up some freebies along the way, too.

After the freshers’ fair, most societies will also offer taster sessions for free, to give you a sample of their activities. Take the opportunity to branch out and try out everything, especially whilst it's free, then once you’ve given everything a go, pick which societies you’d like to buy membership for, and join. Even if you don’t become a member of a society, it is still possible to attend their events; you may just have to pay a bit more than their members to attend so there is no missing out if you change your mind, and there is always next year!

Societies are such an integral part of student life at York, they give you something to do in your spare time, especially if you’re struggling with adjusting to university life in the first few weeks and are a new way to make friends outside of your accommodation and course who share similar interests. To give you a sense of what York societies are out there, we reached out to just a few of them to find out what made them join their society and what they get up to during the year as a student group.

Craft Society:
"Crafts Society offers a different beginner-friendly craft every week, ranging from plant pot painting to polymer clay. Our priority is to ensure that these crafts are inclusive and accessible to all, as this crafting community really is for anyone. I personally love @uoycrafts for giving me an hour a week where I can completely forget everything else and immerse myself in something a bit different!" Shandria, Secretary

Amnesty Society:
“I joined Amnesty having known about their work previously, I wanted to learn about issues across the world and make some noise as part of an international movement to defend and support people and their rights. As a society, we have information sessions on current issues, we campaign and put on vibrant student-led events to fundraise and build our community” Eleanor, President

Baking Society:
“I joined the Baking Society in my first year as it was a great opportunity to meet fellow bakers, make baking into a fun competition and join a community that shares recipes and baking ideas. It’s great to meet up for a cocktail with the society or come together for a group bake. You always feel welcome and can pop along to any event!” Rebecca, Social Media Secretary

York Hornets Cheerleading:
“I joined cheer because I wanted to try something new, and I thought it would be a good way to make friends. It was fun being able to go to a taster session and I knew from meeting the coach and captain for that year that cheerleading was going to be one of my favourite parts of my university experience. So far, I’ve made so many friends, some of them are my closest friends at university. The socials have been a great way to get out of my comfort zone and meet similar minded people” Laila, Fundraising

Music Society:
“I joined the Music Society in my first year hoping to get more involved in the music scene and get to know like-minded people as a fresher, however, I had no idea how many opportunities the society offered! Now entering my 3rd year on the committee, I've seen our society grow and hundreds of members enjoy all we offer, including weekly concerts, open-mic events, lesson bursaries, exams, regular socials both on campus and at flares, and access to our amazing practice rooms - Our plans for next year are bigger and better so Freshers watch out!” Jenny, President

Feminist Society:
“When I started in 2020, I found a safe space in the feminist community at York and created friendships during a lockdown where many students struggled to socialise outside of their accommodation. Since taking over the society a few months ago, (as a new committee) we are trying to build on the legacy of previous years by building up a space for activism to try and support those who are most vulnerable in the community. Our aim for this year is to platform feminist voices outside of the binary and also give a space to those who are marginalised in York and wider society. Over the autumn term, we hope to run campaigns that support those in poverty and also celebrate black feminist movements throughout Black History month!” Loz, President

Yoga Society:
“The Yoga Society helps students connect with their mind and body, synchronising the two to create a balance. It's an amazing way to maintain physical and mental well-being, promoting relaxation, deep movements and breathwork. I joined this society to manage my emotions and cope with the stress of university. The Yoga Society helped me in more ways than one and I'm glad I joined. It's a lovely experience and I encourage every student to try it.” Sehir, Secretary

Pokémon Society:
"Pokémon Society has been a great place for me to make new friends with people who share the same love and passion for Pokémon! We put on a variety of Pokémon-themed events, such as quiz shows, competitive tournaments, Pokémon GO walks and even scavenger hunts! Pokésoc has been a huge part of my university life and I encourage anyone who likes Pokémon to come along and have some fun!" River, Secretary

All Should Eat:
“All Should Eat is a volunteering project which focuses on bridging the gap between students and staff at the University and local food banks, whilst also working in various ways to raise awareness about food poverty. We’ve installed, maintained and regularly collect from our donation boxes all over both campuses, and collaborate with societies and organisations both internally and outside of university in our efforts to understand and combat food insecurity. I initially got involved after searching for volunteering opportunities on the YUSU website, and after a year of being on committee as a Volunteer Officer, I am now leading the project as Project Coordinator, and am so excited for the upcoming academic year!” Amber, Project Coordinator

It's also important to remember you may not find the group you’re looking for right away. I didn’t join Nouse until my second year and it's now the society I’m most heavily involved in. Just giving everything a go is key, and if you don’t find something you like straight away it’s not something to be disheartened about; there are so many students with so many different interests, you will find someone who shares interests with you, and if a society doesn’t exist for that interest, then why not found your own?