The Life of a Social Secretary – The Oxford Student
The workers, teacup makers, penniless soldiers and booze porters, who hold the life of Oxford society together, deserve some kind of mark of respect. They give us great events – from Paksoc Punting to Hispanic Society Burritos. It’s the chair movers that create the post-tute social fun. My last term experience as Labor Club ‘Social’ Secretary was one of the most enjoyable parts of Oxford life and proves why joining a Societies Committee is one of the most rewarding things you can do in Oxford. Here are my reasons:
A moody Hilary week 0 morning emerged. I had completed my first set of collections and was looking forward to preparing for my first social secretary event, a welcome drink. I took the arduous walk from Magdalen to the Tescolator and waited for the other newly elected committee members. Our goal? To buy drinks and some humorous brands for the event. As soon as we got rid of the usual gossip of university life, we walked into the Tesco and launched, in an instant, a zealous discipline in search of the cheapest gin, vodka and rum, while balancing Oxford student diet with 1lb breadsticks. After gathering an assortment of precious liquids – unsurprisingly, buying £150 worth of booze between 4 students at a drawbar – and heading to the event hall, the preparation phase was complete. Already, committee work had instilled a sense of unquestioning dedication to the best deals and epitomized the selfless nature of corporations. Yet, at that moment, I thought to myself: was it worth offering me the previous term for this mind-boggling logistical role?
Already, committee work had instilled a sense of unquestioning dedication to the best deals and epitomized the selfless nature of corporations.
However, this grim perception would change within minutes at the start of the event. Expectations were low, the events of the previous quarter would on average be lucky to have 20 people, but as our tactical use of Facebook paid off, more than 50 people would show up at this little prison in the Madeleine that I booked at the last minute. . With drinks already at rock bottom 45 minutes into the event, I rushed to nearby Sainsburys, impressed with what had been created. So my very first interaction with committee work was a success, with people’s appetites sated, membership drive achieved, and a shift in Hilary’s sentence to a sunny one-term plateau had begun. .
So my very first interaction with committee work was a success, with people’s appetites sated, membership drive achieved, and a shift in Hilary’s sentence to a sunny one-term plateau had begun. .
From this positive start, the social part of being a social secretary has been greatly enhanced. Our weekly “Beer and Bickering” debate event has become the subject of many Oxfesses and even a few Oxloves. The accidental breaking of our glass “hammers” were incidents of ridicule, but were at the same time symbols of the cordiality into which the event turned. The rowdy family atmosphere that I was aiming for in the role succeeded, the motions were thoroughly discussed in different touches of humor from the participants, and the humor was devoured! Seeing the fruits of your labor come to fruition and making many people enjoy their Friday night is an indescribable feeling. The art of welcoming is an experience that must have universal appeal if it can create such a feeling of universal ecstasy. People active in corporations know the fun of hosting a social experience of an event, from sorting out supply issues to ensuring everyone is welcome to attend the event. Committee work can be one of the most rewarding times spent in Oxford and the slightest change in the course of an event can change the whole atmosphere of the night.
This experiment can go wrong. I’ve experienced this all too well trying to deal with college events and life often dominated by alcohol. Changing “Beer and Bisbill” to “Pizza and Politics” and moving the event to an earlier start at 6 p.m. was the worst idea I’ve ever had. The usual public, fueled by alcohol, arrived and, after noticing the lack of alcohol, turned into a near riot. Speeches were lackluster, people were on the verge of bursting into tears, and I witnessed the desolation of my social experience. The way to fix alcoholic madness events cannot be to suppress them entirely, because then alcohol-craving people will fall into a tute-esque phase: barely clinging to life and bluffing every sentence just so that the event ends. Despite this, experimentation is not a harmful affair. As the roles like social secretary are often quite vague, they allow you to mold it around your personality and make your environmental wishes come true. Elections and nominations for such roles are usually only quarterly, so your flexibility to do whatever you want for a solid 8 weeks can help you find your audience and event-making style.
Elections and nominations for such roles are usually only quarterly, so your flexibility to do whatever you want for a solid 8 weeks can help you find your audience and event-making style.
As often every committee is painted with the same few, loud and confident faces, students are often afraid to run for office for positions which on the whole should be quite insignificant compared to the academic work we (may or can not) do. The trick to solving this problem is for companies to introduce “how to get involved” events. For all the fear of the Oxford Union, which has been deemed to have the “toughest election”, it has several ways to encourage people to run. For lesser societies, elections are often simply announced at the end of terms, and usually only have a continuity of friends from the previous committee (especially in societies based on nominations rather than open elections). This must be remedied by following the Union a little by opening the life of associations to all through significant transparency and by encouraging the diversification of those who join the life of the committees.
For lesser societies, elections are often simply announced at the end of terms, and usually only have a continuity of friends from the previous committee (especially in societies based on nominations rather than open elections).
So my call to you, from those worried about foreplay to those relaxing after strenuous mods, get involved! At the end of the day, the work of society is worth the treks of organization, and it’s one of the best ways to meet new people – through the blood, sweat, tears and toil of collecting bears and breadsticks for your event.
Featured Image Description: Ciaron stands next to a list of motions to discuss at a Labor Club social event.
Featured image credit: Ciaron Tobin.