Student Activities FAQ

 

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


Societies and Clubs must fill in certain documents every year and email them to susocs@essex.ac.uk or blades@essex.ac.uk. Please see the list below and read each description to see which ones you are required to fill in. 

how do we book a University Teaching Room?


Please be aware that any bookings will currently not be processed due to face-to-face activity being prohibited because of COVID-19.

1. Before you book the room, please allow a minimum of five working days’ notice, preferably two weeks. As much notice as possible is needed due to periods of the year where workload gets higher for certain departments. A minimum of 6 weeks' notice will be needed to book larger spaces such as the Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall.

2. Read and complete this form: https://www1.essex.ac.uk/forms/student/room-booking.aspx/form.aspx 

Completed forms are sent to the Student Activities Team for sponsorship. If all is okay, we’ll sponsor the booking and it’ll be sent through to Central Room Bookings, who’ll allocate you a room. You get an email notification when this happens - make sure to check your junk folder in case your confirmation gets sent to there. If there are any problems, we’ll email you.

how do we hold an event on squares?


Please be aware that any bookings will currently not be processed due to face-to-face activity being prohibited because of COVID-19. 

Complete this online Table Booking Form and your request will be dealt with as quickly as possible (unless you do not require a table at your event.) If you also require a gazebo, please email su@essex.ac.uk with details of your event such as date, times, and what your event is.

If your event will take place one of the other Squares, or if it is a Square 3 event which falls outside the normal range of events held there - sales, promotions etc. - you will need to obtain permission from the University's Estates Department by completing an Event Permission Form which you can download using the link provided.  Depending on the nature of your event, you will need to provide either one or three weeks' notice, so don't leave it too late!

If your event requires an electricity point, you will need to have this form approved by the Student Activities Team with at least 3 weeks' notice of your event as the Estates team need to book the correct staff for the day of your event to set up the electric source.

How do we Book an SU Venue


Please be aware that any bookings will currently not be processed due to face-to-face activity being prohibited because of COVID-19. 

If you want to hold an event in one of the following venues:

  • SU Bar
  • Top Bar
  • Base
  • Sub Zero

then there are a number of options available to you, depending on the availability of the venue, the nature of your event, the time of your event, the number of people realistically expected to attend, and your budget.

As a general guide, events involving collaboration between several societies, or societies and clubs, have a better history of success, so you should explore opportunities to collaborate whenever possible.

Although the Student Activities department will support you with your event, the promotion and marketing of the event will be your responsibility, and you should plan this carefully.

Once you have made a decision about your requirements, please complete an online Venues Booking Form here. This is different to the teaching room form.
 
Always try to book your venue as far in advance as possible, especially if your event is scheduled for a popular time of year.

can we hold an event off campus?


 Please be aware that any bookings will currently not be processed due to face-to-face activity being prohibited because of COVID-19. 

When holding an event off-campus, you will need to take a number of additional factors into account:

  • setting out clear, written terms for your agreement with the venue and having the agreement/contract signed by a member of the Student Activities team.
     
  • finding out whether the venue will require a minimum number of ticket sales.
     
  • finding out whether a hire cost applies, and whether a deposit will need to paid.
     
  • finding out whether the society or the venue will be collecting ticket income and handling admissions.

If a third party site is used to sell tickets (such as Eventbrite), you will need to take into account the effect of commission on profit margins, and will need to provide them with a reference they can use when transferring the money to the SU, as it can otherwise be very difficult to trace it! Please ask the Student Activities staff if you are unsure about any of this information!

You may also need to complete a risk assessment for the event, sometimes in cooperation with the external venue - the Student Activities department can offer you some support with this!

Can You help us with fundraising events?


Always make it clear who you are raising money for, and tell people the name of the charity you are helping if that is the reason for your fundraising.

You will want to make a profit, so try to keep your costs down where possible. It is a good idea to make sure that someone keeps track of all the money that is being spent, especially if several people are involved in buying things, such as baking ingredients for a cake sale.

Unless you are raising money for charity, don’t forget to deduct VAT from the amount you raise when calculating your profit or to ask for VAT receipts when you make purchases so that the tax can be claimed back on your behalf, reducing your costs.

If you need to book a table on Square 3, book a room on campus, book sports facilities, book an entertainment venue on campus, or deal with external service providers, please see the relevant FAQ entries for more details.

 

CAN YOU HELP US TO PROMOTE OUR EVENT?


Your Student Activities department and Students’ Union can help you to promote your event in a number of ways, depending on how much notice you are able to provide and the nature and scale of your event, although the main responsibility for promotion must rest with you as the organisers.
 

SOCIETY WEB PAGES

When you create an event on your society page at essex.su it is automatically displayed beneath your convene heading on the 'Find a Society' page and also on the Activities 'What's On' page (unless you tick the box stating that the event is to be displayed to members only).
 

SOCIAL MEDIA

The Student Activities staff  will do their best to support any promotion you do on social media by way of copying links, ‘liking’ on Facebook, sharing on Instagram stories etc so long as we are given adequate notice - and you send us the links!

If you would like the Student Activities department to help promote your event on our social media platforms, please fill out this form: 

https://essexsu.typeform.com/to/o1e4v2


PROMOTION ON SQUARES

Promoting your event by handing out flyers - perhaps on a Thursday for market day. Running a stall on another day with music (if approved) and/or giveaways is another effective way to promote an upcoming event.

 

SCREENS (BETWEEN SQUARES 3 & 4)
  • The screens are designed to reach a wide auidence, so we can only agree to promote your event in this way if it is large enough, and general enough, to be likely to appeal to a broad section of SU members. If your event is small scale or specialist in nature, there are far more effective ways to promote it.
  • Screen time is in high demand and must be shared equally - therefore, we cannot guarantee it. If you have a number of events coming up which are sutiable to be promoted in this way, please consider which benefit most from, and priortise them.
     
  • Any media you create for these screens needs to be 1080x1920 and the file type needs to be .WMV and exactly 20 seconds long.
  • Finally, the Marketing department needs a minmum of three weeks' notice.
  • If you would like to proceed with a request for screen time, having read through the above, please click here.
     
  • Please note that sometimes the Marketing departments' schedule for the screens may be full, so your request may not be able to be processed even if the required notice has been given.

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how can we sell tickets for our event?


The Student Activities department can create tickets that can be bought by members and non-members either online, at the SU Reception desk, or on the door of SU venues.

Just create an event on your society web page using your admin tools and then complete this form.

We normally recommend that you sell tickets online in this way, rather than using paper tickets, because you will otherwise need to make sure that the tickets are numbered to create a paper trail for your income, and also to avoid people photocopying them or claiming that they have ‘lost’ their tickets.

In addition, paper tickets need to be paid for in cash, which is not always convenient, and the money will need to be counted, kept safe, and paid into your society/club account  - and you will also have to provide a float, in order to give change.  

Also, if there is more than one society/club collaborating in this event, the money will need to be split between the different societies before being paid in by their various executives.

On the other hand, online purchases made via credit or debit card are convenient, and ticket income from web sales goes straight into your account. Where societies/clubs are collaborating, income from web sales is automatically paid to each member’s society/club, with non-member income being split equally between the societies/clubs involved.

Using essex.su, purchases can be made anywhere, and at any time, and you will know exactly how many tickets have been sold.  You can also view, download and print a list of ticket holders, so dealing with admissions will be simplified.

A link to the event can be created from any social media account, so you can promote the event yourselves and people can then follow the link to essex.su to make the purchase.

Likewise, if you want to sell the tickets on squares, you can just take a laptop out with you.

Lastly, unlike Eventbrite and similar portals, there is no commission levied, so your society/club gets all of the income, minus VAT.

ARE WE ALLOWED TO SCREEN A FILM AT OUR EVENT?


All film screenings by societies/clubs are subject to licensing requirements, meaning that a Performance Licence must be purchased by the SU (using your society/club funds) for each film screening it organises.

When you buy a DVD or a Blu-ray, it comes with a licence to watch it at home, in private. It isn’t licenced for any other type of viewing, meaning that you can only legally watch that DVD or Blu-ray at home under the licence that you have for it.

When you want to show a film publicly, such as at a film screening, you need to buy an additional performance licence in order to do this. When you have bought the public screening licence, you are then permitted to show that DVD or Blu-ray that you own publicly under the terms of the licence you have purchased


The approximate cost of a Performance Licence is £80.00 - £100.00, but please bear in mind that this can vary.  Additionally, you should be aware that licences are not always available to purchase, either for legal or commercial reasons, and this is not something that the SU has any control over.

If your society/club wishes to hold a film screening you should provide a minimum of three weeks' notice - more if you wish to use Cine 10 - and complete the online Film Screening Request Form.

How do our finance and accounts work?


The President and Treasurer of a society/club are responsible for its finances - which includes paying in fundraising income, signing expense claims, and working with other relevant exec members to budget events carefully.

You will both receive an automated finance report every week stating the current balance of the your account and listing all transactions (if you're not getting these, let us know!)

No society or club is permitted to hold or deal with money outside their authorised account, which is an account administered by the University of Essex Student’s Union. To do so is a serious breach of the Students’ Union’s financial regulations.

This means that all money raised by or on behalf of a society/club - including donations or collections from members - must be paid immediately into the SU account.

For more info please refer to the Finance Training.

 

when DO I need to COMPLETE A RISK ASSESSMENT?


Risk assessments should be completed before every event you hold, even if you really can't see any risks being involved.

Risk assessments should also be completed for online events, if they event is something that involves physical participation, for example a dance class or a yoga session. You do not need to complete a risk assessment for an online session like a quiz or a coffee catch up.

If you are ever unsure on whether you need to complete a risk assessment, please contact us!

For details of how to complete a risk assessment, take a look at the Events Training session.  

 

How does the new online expense form work?

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we've changed the way claiming expenses works. 

Usually you would submit any receipts in paper copy, along with the expenses form and we would sign it and send it to the finance department. This has now changed to an online form. You or your members can now fill in an online form and attach photocopies/pictures of receipts as evidence.

Once the form has been submitted, it will be sent to the society/club Treasurer for authorisation (or President if the Treasurer is the person submitting the claim), and they will sign it off without us even needing to see the claim. 

If the amount being claimed is more than £50 however, it will come to us in the Student Activities team. If you're ever worried that a member of your society/club has abused this system and claimed for something they shouldn't have, then you can request to see a detailed breakdown of the finances by sending an email to the President and Treasurer - they cannot reject this request.

HOW DO I pay money into my society/club account?

Memberships and tickets sold online or at the Reception desk are automatically paid into your society/club account by the Finance Office, so you don't need to worry about those.

If you are paying in cash following a fundraising event or something similar, just complete a Paying-In Form and take it to the SU Reception desk along with the money you need to pay in.

Paying-in forms are kept at Reception, but you can download a copy here.

Cheques made out to the University of Essex Students’ Union can also be paid into your account by the Finance Office, so long as there is a covering letter explaining why the money is being paid in, who is paying it, and which society/club it is for.

Bank transfers can also be made directly to your society's account: please contact the Student Activities team at susocs@essex.ac.uk or blades@essex.ac.uk and we will give you the details.

Don’t forget - you must pay VAT on all income other than charitable donations, so if an individual or organisation decides to make a charitable donation to your society account, the fact that it is a charitable donation needs to be made very clear in a supporting letter or email.  The Finance Office will help you with this process, if you wish.

A different procedure applies to money that you have raised for charity - see 'How Do I Pay Money to a Charity?' for more information.
 

how do societies/clubs pay money to charities?


Any physical money raised needs first to be paid into a special holding account, known as the ‘Raise and Give’ (RaG) account.

You will need to complete a RaG Form and take it to the SU Reception Desk along with the money you need to pay in to the RaG account. This form will ask you for the details of the charity you have raised the money for, such as their address and bank details, so make sure you have them ready.

After you have completed this form, the money will be paid into the SU's RaG account and then paid off to charity. 

You can also ask for us to transfer a portion of your funds to the RaG account so that your society/club can make a charitable donation. For example, you may want to host a Zoom quiz, with the proceeds going to charity. After ticket sales have finished on the website, we can then ask the Finance team to journal the total across to the RaG account so that a payment can be made to charity. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is our preffered and advised method of making a payment to charity, so that face-to-face contact is limited, as well as removing the risk of handling physical money.

All of the above means that expenses claims may have to be dealt with differently. If you need to deduct expenses from the money that has been raised for charity, you will need to take it from the money that you pay in (if you are paying in physical money). This is because once money has been paid into the RaG account, it cannot be taken out again unless to make a payment to a charity. You can claim expenses from your society/club funds however, if your members are happy with this.

However if you are making an expense claim when all income has been generated/paid in online, then an expense claim can be made through the online expense form.

 

how ARE we AFFECTED BY VAT?


At present, all societies and clubs pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on their income, at a rate of 20%.

(This does not mean 20% is deducted from your income, as it assumed that it has been included in all prices.  As an example, for each £5.00 membership that is paid to a society, the society receives £4.17 while 83p is deducted in tax and paid to the government.)

This matters when you are calculating profit margins on an event. For example, if it will cost you £200 to host an event, you may plan to make a small profit if you sell all the tickets for £220. But because you pay VAT on the ticket money, you will receive only £183.33 after tax, so in fact you will make a small loss.

(To calculate the amount of VAT you will pay on income, divide the pre-tax figure by 1.2. Using the above example, £220.00 divided by 1.2 = £183.33. If you then subtract £183.33 from £220.00, you can see that £36.67 in VAT has had to be paid.)

However,  because societies and clubs pay VAT on income, they can also recover any VAT they pay when making purchases, so anyone buying items on behalf of a society or club should remember to ask for a VAT receipt. (For example, if you spend £20 on chocolate biscuits for a party, but obtain a VAT receipt, it will only cost the society/club £16.66.)

The Students’ Union’s Finance Office pays and recovers all VAT amount on your behalf, so you do not need to worry about the mechanics of this process - however, it makes good financial sense to be aware of it!

what if i want to pay a company or person for services?


In law, a contract is: “(A)n agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit, known as consideration.”

So if you are booking a restaurant that requires a deposit, holding an event in a venue off campus, booking a DJ, booking a trip, paying someone to decorate a room for an event, etc. you are entering into a contract.

As a society/club executive you are not authorised to enter into contracts - societies and clubs are part of the SU, so contracts need to be made with it, and the SU has only a few individuals who are authorised to sign contracts on its behalf.  Any such agreements therefore need to be sent to the Student Activities Department, and we will arrange for the appropriate person to sign them.

The Student Activities Department can also provide you with a suggested template for a contract for the supply of services, should you require one just email us!

PLEASE be careful about entering into or changing the terms of agreements via email, text or messaging. These are still contracts, and need to be both clearly set out and signed. If you are ever unsure on something, please speak to us first!

HOW DO I BUY SOMETHING FOR MY SOCIETY/club?


The easiest way to buy something for your society or club is to pay for it yourself and then claim back the money. See 'How do I make an expenses claim?' for more information.

Just remember to ask for and keep any receipts, and to attach these to your expenses claim form before your Treasurer signs it.

If you need to spend a lot of money, then the SU can assist by paying on invoice, or by using an SU charge card.

With an invoice, the supplier of the goods or services sends us a statement of the amount of money that is due to them, which the SU then pays to them from your account, by bank transfer.  

*nvoices must be addressed to:

University of Essex Student’s Union
Wivenhoe, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ

and not to the University of Essex or to your society/club.

If the supplier is an individual - like a student DJ - and does not know how to set out an invoice, please contact the Student Activities department as we have a template that they can use.

Invoices are processed each Wednesday morning, so you need to submit your invoice to the Student Activities department by 12:00 midday on Tuesday's if you want it paid by the Friday of that same week. Some invoices have mistakes that we will then ask you or the recipient to correct, so if possible please send invoices to us earlier than Tuesday's so we have time to ask for corrections if they are needed.

The Student Activities department also has a charge card that we can use to make payments. However, charge card payments will only be considered where there is no practical alternative, as they involve quite a lot of internal administration for both the Student Activities team and the Finance Office team. It also has a monthly spending limit, so we may not be able to make a purchase for you because the limit has already been reached. Essentially, only ask for this option if there is nothing else available!

how do we elect an executive committee?


Elections can be held at any time during the year in a number of different ways - however it is important to note that core officer role elections must be held online. 
 
Online elections can happen at any point during the year and can be requested using the Election Request Form. We'll use the details to set the election up for you and will then email all of your society/club members with all the important details. 

For full details of the different ways in which you can hold an election, as well as the rules involved, please refer to Article 7 of the Societies Terms of Reference. For clubs, please contact blades@essex.ac.uk for more information surrounding your elections.
 
General elections for clubs and societies usually take place in late Febraury/early March and all clubs and societies must participate. 
 
If you are having problems standing or voting in an election, or you are not sure whether your society or club needs to hold an election, please contact the Student Activities department.

when do i need to submit an external speaker request?

 

If you are ever having someone at an event (online or in person) that is leading a session, or at least running parts of it, then you will need to submit an external speaker request by using this form.

Having external speakers or high-profile guests at an event can bring different risks - for example a celebrity singer could attract large crowds and heighten the chance of crushing within the venue they are performing in - it sounds pretty extreme annd unlikely, but we can't take any chances! 

Submitting an external speaker request allows us to take safety precautions that protect both you and the guest, so it's really important that you remember to submit this request when needed. 

Performers, political figures, guest speakers and alumni are just some examples of instances where you would need to submit an external speaker request - if you are ever unsure then please get in touch and we'll let you know. 

Certain requests may require a lot of preparation and planning in order for it to be approved, so a minimum of 15 working days' notice is required for all requests, but even longer where possible is preferable. 

 

how Do we hand over from one committee to another?


Handover meetings are an important part of the planning process for new executive committees because they allow you to access the knowledge and experience gained in previous years, and make informed decisions about the strategic direction of your society or club.

We recommend that the two committees reflect on things such as key events that have taken place, how to maintain good committee relationships and your club/society finances and how money has been handled throughout the year.

We also recommend making a physical list of any items your club/society has stored, whether that be personally, or in an allocated locker.

what training is available for executives?


The Student Activities team organises a number of a compulsory training sessions for core officers (Presidents, Treasurers, Secretaries, Welfare Officers & COVID Officers) at the beginning of each academic year, as well as some sessions that can assist non-core exec members too.

If you couldn't attend these sessions or you become an exec member later in the year, you are required to make sure you have been through all of the relevant sessions as soon as possible.

The sessions, with the video recording as well as the presentation used are all available on the executive member resources page in the third row down of the main body of the page.

can we create an email address for our society/club?


The University will not create ‘essex.ac.uk’ emails for societies or clubs, so your best option is either to stick to communications via social media or to create an email address with a provider such as Hotmail. Remember, you can email your members using your admin tools - instructions on how to access this tool are on the Comms, Social Media & Website training presentation!

what if we want to use henna or face paint?


We must ensure you only use brown, natural Henna to reduce the risk of reaction or infection. Absolutely NO black Henna is to be used.

You cannot do Henna on children without the permission of their guardian. You cannot do Henna on anyone with open wounds.

If your society/club is wanting to use Henna for an event or on a stall, you will need to have a disclaimer. You can download one by clicking here.

How do I find my Society/club Locker?


Please note, use of society/club lockers is currently prohibited due to COVID-19. If you need any items, please contact the Student Activities team.

1. Collect the Locker Room key from Security on Square 3 (next to MOA, opposite the SU). If you don't have your society/club locker key then you will need to collect this from the Student Activities office.

2. Cross the square and use entrance 3NE.

3. Go down the stairs to level 3

4. Continue left down the corridor until you find 3.101 – it’s an old photography dark room, and if you look carefully there’s still a faded sign for it on the door.

Once you’re finished, lock the room and immediately return the key to Security.

how can we deal with conflict in our committee?


If your executive committee is experiencing troubles, the first step is to discuss the issue and your views about it directly and reasonably with those involved.  Understanding everyone’s viewpoint and talking things through can be a fast and effective solution, and it avoids any escalation of the problem.

Try to keep your discussions face-to-face – written comments often sound much harsher than intended and can be misinterpreted, and group chats encourage others to add to problem by taking sides, which is rarely helpful.

  • If another executive is complaining about the management of an event or of the society/club in general, try to listen to their point of view without being overly defensive. Taking all criticism personally is often unnecessary and is usually counterproductive.  Often, assigning the person more tasks can help solve the tension since they will then have more ownership of the project in question or feel that they can share in the development of the society/club.
  • If you feel an executive is not pulling their weight, again, talk to them about it. Try to limit your discussion to tasks, rather than entering into a general debate about their attitude or abilities, with the desired outcome being an agreed list of tasks and deadlines. Be as specific as you can, so there is little margin of error.  If the person is not interested in finding a solution, you may need to find out whether they would prefer to step down from their position which, if they are taking on too much in other areas, may actually be a relief.

Should the problems persist after this informal conversation, consider involving an external party as a mediator: for example, another executive member.

If, after this, there is still no resolution, please contact a member of the Student Activities team, and we will do our best to help. We may be able to see a different viewpoint of the situation, or may be able to offer extra guidance when dealing with a particularly sensitive case. 

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how can I complain about a society/club?


Every society/club is governed by its own Constitution and House Rules, which should be made available to all members. Every society is also governed by the Societies Terms of Reference, so please refer to this before making a complaint. For clubs, please contact blades@essex.ac.uk for further information about how to make a complaint.


If you wish to make a complaint about a society/club or any of its members or officers, please contact the Student Activities department with a brief description of the issue, and we will help you to find the best way to proceed.

Alternatively, you may wish to contact the Students’ Union directly via our SU React facility.

For more serious allegations, for example racism, sexual assault, or harrassment, you will need to contact either the SU Advice department (suadvice@essex.ac.uk) or the Student Conduct department (studentconduct@essex.ac.uk) and they will be able to assist you with the issue.

how can i register to drive a minibus?


Please note that this service is currently unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SU has some vehicles that can be hired by societies and clubs. Please contact su@essex.ac.uk to see what vehicles are currently in use.

To drive an SU vehicle you must meet certain conditions and successfully pass an assessment.

The main condition is that you must have been driving for a minimum of 2 years, but SU Admin staff will need assess your application with regards to the terms of the SU's vehicle insurance cover.

  • To drive the people carrier, you will need to complete a 30 minute online assessment and a 20 minute final debrief - £15 plus VAT (total £18).
     
  • To drive a minibus, you must do the same and also complete a one-hour on-road assessment and a 20 minute eco-briefing - £48 plus VAT (total £57.60).

If you are taking the assessment in order to become a driver for your society/club, this may be something that your society/club agrees to subsidise.

After that, for both vehicles, you will also need to read through the SU's Drivers' Manual and sign an agreement setting out the terms of use of the vehicles

If you want to make an application, complete the Assessment Application Form (you can read and download this here) and bring it to the SU Reception desk along with your photo card driver's licence.

SU Admin staff will then contact you to arrange a date for your assessment.

If you have any questions about this becoming a driver, or would like to book an assessment, please contact su@essex.ac.uk

how can we book a minibus?


Please note that this service is currently unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All minibus bookings are made online, at 
essex.su/minibus.

If neither the SU people carrier (which seats 9) or the three SU minibuses (which each set 17) are available, it may be possible to hire in an additional minibus at a daily rate of £80 plus VAT (total cost £96) plus fuel.

If you use an SU vehicle there is no hire charge, and fuel is charged at a rate of 65p per mile.

how do i find an answer that isn't here??


If you can't find an answer to your query in our FAQ section, there are a number of different options available to you.

Alternatively, you can drop us an email - however, please bear in mind that we are very busy at certain times of the year, and although we will try to get back to you as soon as we can, one of the options listed above may be quicker..