Planning student group activities for Epiphany term
With a national lockdown in place and most students not returning to University, unfortunately we need to confirm that student group activities will be online only for Epiphany term.
We know it’s a difficult time for everyone and it’s disheartening to regularly have plans altered. If any of this is affecting your mental health or wellbeing, please do check out the resources here.
We know from experience that your online activities are still an incredibly important resource for keeping students connected and entertained during this time. In fact, the Independent recently ran an article about how important student societies are for helping with isolation, so please know that your efforts are appreciated.
We’ll also still be running the online Activities Fair from 30-31 January. You should already have details on how to take part and these can be found in the student group emails and on the Exec Facebook group. At our first ever virtual fair in October, SU student groups achieved an incredible 19,673 sign-ups in total! We’re really excited to see you continue that success later this month.
As always, thank you for all your patience and perseverance during these uncertain times, and good luck for the term ahead.
Last updated: 14/01/2021
Unfortunately, there will continue to be no in person extracurricular activities for the rest of this term. This is the case across the University and is in line with the move to mainly online teaching for the end of term.
We hope this will help protect students and their families who are intending to travel home for the Christmas holidays by reducing the risk of catching the virus before travelling.
We know many of you will be keen to start making plans for your groups after Christmas. As soon as we’re able to, we will provide you with further information on what we expect groups to be able to do in Epiphany Term.
What we do know, and are excited about, is that student groups will be able to take part in our next virtual fair for all students. The fair will be a similar format to the Freshers’ Fair and is another chance to make sure as many Durham students as possible know about your group! We’ll send out further details on how to get involved soon.
Finally, we want to say how grateful we are to all our student groups for how you’ve dealt with the constant changes to your circumstances this year. And we hope that you will continue your activities online in the creative ways you have already been doing.
Unfortunately, now that we have entered another lockdown, we’re sad to confirm that all student group face-to-face activity will need to stop in line with government guidance. This will last until at least 2 December.
We know how important student groups are for bringing students together and for looking after your mental health during a difficult time, so we want to make sure we’re supporting you to continue your activities online.
How we’re supporting you:
Give It a Go Online – We’ll be giving groups the opportunity to run more Give It a Go events from 16 November, which provide you with extra publicity from the SU and give the wider student body the chance to try your activities for free. They are a great way to reach different students and hopefully get new members!
Publicity support – Take advantage of some of the ways we can help publicise your groups here. The Student Group Communications Plan currently contains many of the extra options we gave you for Freshers’ 2020, but we’re happy to extend many of these now to help you get your activities seen by as many students as possible.
Share your ideas – We’re really proud of the ways you have already adapted your events online, and we want to make sure you can learn from each other’s activities. Go over to our Freshers’ Instagram account @durhamfreshers20 to share your ideas and get some new ones!
Planning events during lockdown – We want to keep Durham virtually buzzing during the next few weeks. This is a very different lockdown to the first one, and many students will be still living in Durham and looking for things to do – so please send some of your exec along to Anna’s Zoom discussions to chat about social media tips, share ideas, explain problems and let us know how you’re doing! Please register as soon as possible for the session which most suits your scope of activities (links below), so you can receive the details in plenty of time.
Monday 9 November 10am Professional Development:
Monday 9 November 12pm Active:
Monday 9 November 1pm Cultural and Faith:
Monday 9 November 2pm Political and Causes:
Monday 9 November 4pm Interests:
Tuesday 10 November 10am Academic:
Tuesday 10 November 11am Associations:
Tuesday 10 November 12pm Media:
Following the two-week freeze on activity across campus, we appreciate the patience and ingenuity shown by all our groups and have enjoyed working successfully with Experience Durham to deliver another brilliant Fresher’s Fair, which saw over 16,000 student group sign-ups.
With over 230 student groups currently operating within our umbrella, Durham SU exists to champion diversity and we embrace the full spectrum of activity within our organisation, from hummus appreciation to career development. Above all else, I do not want to underestimate the detrimental impact which loneliness and isolation during the darkest months of the year will have upon our students. It is with this in mind that I am supporting a return of face-to-face activity, where it can be done safely and where it is worth the effort, so that we can have maximum quality interactions and new friendships between students with minimum harm caused. We must do this in line with the government guidelines and we must be proactive in minimising risk – student safety is paramount.
We all exist within the same community and we must all work together to keep that community safe. Much of this plan relies heavily upon the conduct of our entire community. We cannot treat our various organisations of colleges, Experience Durham, Durham SU associations and societies, or the wider residency of Durham as wholly separate when they are made up of an intersecting pool of students. If any one of these organisations creates unsafe environments which causes a further spread of disease, all our activities will be jeopardised – and that’s not to dismiss the random nature of transmission which we essentially cannot predict. We are therefore working closely with Experience Durham, the University and the colleges to ensure there is consistency across the board.
PHASE ONE - a return of our organised active fitness groups
From 12 October, Durham SU has worked with Experience Durham to devise a list of legal and safe activities which can viably begin operating. These groups will be invited to nominate a Covid Safety Officer (to receive online training) and submit a risk assessment which will include details of how they are ensuring their group operates mindfully of Covid. Where we are confident they have correctly addressed the risks, we will begin a trial period in which each approved active group will be given one hour room-booking slot from the week commencing 12 October. We would treat this as a trial period, where groups would be encouraged to identify risks and make changes to ensure they operate as safely as possible, before being allowed to increase the frequency of their activities. All non-active groups would be asked to remain operating online, although some may be granted permission to meet under close management if it is essential for their group’s objectives.
PHASE TWO – a return of some activities which are not active but rely on face to face
Art workshops and media groups will be supported to begin operating from 26 October where possible, with the same risk assessment, Covid Safety Officer and trial period as in Phase One. We will then be looking to increase the scope of groups which can operate from 2 November. At this stage, we will be asking all our groups whose regular core activities rely exclusively upon face-to-face interaction to submit their risk assessments for any activities they would wish to run and believe to be safe. Many of these will still be impossible at this stage, but we will have a clearer picture at this point and will be able to review our student group activity.
PHASE THREE – considering whether any specific events can be allowed
If transmission rates and infection rates are low enough and we have not had to reverse either of the previous stages, the final proposed phase will commence from the 23 November. In this phase, student groups which are willing to plan one-off in-person events or trips could potentially operate. At this point, we would work with DUCK and other groups that function primarily for one-off events. We would also ask groups to understand that any event might have to be cancelled, but with significant planning and a reactive approach, and dependent upon the success of our previous stages, student groups could have one event, in line with the government regulations, this term.
If you have any questions about your groups, our Opportunities Team are available to help at email@example.com. With the team being affected by furlough arrangements, it may take longer than usual for you to receive a response, but please be assured we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Student groups are one of the best things about Durham. You bring students together around shared interests, creating opportunities to learn and develop. We understand your communities are more important than ever, and we’re so proud of the ways you have already adapted your groups to a challenging situation.
We want to help you do as much as possible with your groups this year. We want you to continue to grow your membership, and hold activities that you’re proud of. But we need to do so in a way that takes into account the impact Covid-19 is continuing to have on our lives.
As many of you will have read, from 18 September Durham has entered local lockdown restrictions. Everyone has a responsibility to look after each other and to follow these regulations. And unfortunately, that means these regulations will also affect your student groups.
Your groups are affected as follows:
Following these rules is the best thing we can all do to help keep your groups, your members, and our community safe.
We appreciate it’s frustrating not to be able to do exactly what you planned when you volunteered to lead your group – it’s frustrating for us too. But we’re also confident that you can rise to the challenge, and continue to create activities online that bring students together around your interests, building lasting friendships and connections.
Thank you for continuing to bring your creativity and your communities to Durham students.