What are your responsibilities?
Being a committee member means you are a student leader and as such have a responsibility when it comes the behaviour, conduct and culture within your student group.
- Lead by example – we expect all committee members to lead by example in order to set a positive precent for your student group. Call out negative behaviour, promote equality, inclusivity and diversity and members will follow your example. If the committee are taking part in the negative behaviour or are enabling the misconduct, then you would be held accountable for your role in this.
- Create an inclusive environment – it is your responsibility to create an inclusive environment for your student group. This means making sure your student group is a safe and accessible space for all those wanting to take part in your group. It means not permitting negative behaviour by anyone and speaking up against it. It means actively seeking ways to promote equality, inclusivity, and diversity within your group.
- Reporting & Intervening – you also have a responsibility to report behaviour where it goes against the above values and where possible intervene. If someone is acting in a way that does not uphold the positive culture you are creating for your group, then only when it is safe to do so, call it out! Make it clear that the kind of behaviour they are exhibiting is not welcome in your group, but please only do this if it does not jeopardise your own safety. And then make sure to report it to the SU so action can be taken! By not doing anything, you become a bystander or even an enabler.
If at any point it is clear that you are not creating a safe and inclusive environment for your student group, and you yourselves are going against the members code of conduct or any of the other values we expect to be upheld within student groups, then it can result in serious ramifications for your student group. So, it’s really important to take on board the information in this Freshdesk article and create a positive culture within your club or society.
Welcome Drinks & Socials
We know that ‘initiations’ are common across student groups across the country, but this is a reminder that initiations are in fact banned and any reports of initiations or initiation-like behaviour may result in a membership investigation. Instead, you may host a ‘Welcome Drinks’ social at the start of the year, and you may hold socials throughout the year or when you go on Tour, but for absolute clarity the kind of behaviour that is absolutely not permitted includes:
- Bullying, harassment and power inequality – often used as a means to coerce participation in activities, challenges and other risky behaviours designed to humiliate people
- Consumption of excessive quantities of alcohol or abnormal/unpleasant substances
- Forced acts of nudity/nakedness or the humiliation of a person in public
- Isolation or ostracizing of individuals
- Physical acts perpetrated against a person’s body or psychological torment
- Sexual assault or harassment
- Victimisation of a specific group of individuals, most notably ‘Freshers’
The Socials policy mentioned below also includes those activities should not be forced, exclusive or alcohol dependent and focus will not be placed on ritual humiliation, drunkenness, or peer pressure. Participation should in no way be a prerequisite for selection and inclusion within a group and members should be able to opt out of any activity without fear or pressure, reprisal, or any form of discrimination.
Where a group is found to be breaching this policy, they will be subject to the membership disciplinary procedure and in certain cases it may be worse. If you are a sports club, you also adhere to BUCS and your National Governing Body and if your welcome drinks goes wrong, you could be suspended from competing in the season, your NGB can also prevent individuals from competing in that sport ever again. We’ve also seen cases across the country where there have been criminal convictions, expulsion from university and more.
So it is really important that you think about what you are doing and ensure that your socials are safe and fun, that you take care of your members and consent is given!
Behaviour at Fixtures
Everything outlined in this article applies to behaviour at fixtures. As a committee or a Captain, you are responsible for your players, members and even spectators that are shown to be supporting your team. If someone is behaving in such a way that does not follow the members code of conduct or breaking any of the other rules that are in place (e.g., alcohol at a fixture), it is your responsibility to call this out and ask them to leave. If they continue, or you do not feel safe to intervene, or it is a serious enough incident, then report to on-site staff and get in touch with the Student Opportunities team for further action.
Processes, Policies & Support
You can read the Socials Policy here.
This policy applies to all student groups and is aimed at ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all members in relation to socials and particularly the consumption of alcohol. All socials must adhere to this policy so make sure to read through it before going ahead with any social activity.
Code of Conduct
All student groups have a code of conduct which lives on your Google Drive. More information about these here.
The code of conduct sets out clear guidelines of what is expected of your members and you as a committee. It helps hold people accountable for their actions and sets out a clearer path of what steps can be taken if someone was to breach this.
Wellbeing & Conduct Escalation
More information on this here.
The purpose of this is to provide student group committees with support on how or when wellbeing and conduct issues within their group may need to be escalated to the Students’ Union. The code of conduct empowers you to deal with certain situations yourselves, but this process is for those times when the situation is beyond what is expected of a committee member and therefore should be escalated to the Student Opportunities team.
Byelaw L – Membership Investigations
You can find the Byelaw here.
This is a byelaw of the Students’ Unions constitution, so is an overarching governing document that we must adhere to and supersedes any student group constitution or code of conduct. It outlines what the consequences of breaching the SU’s Members Code of Conduct when participating in Union activities – which includes student group activities. This is for serious situations when there is no other option or it is clear that a member has behaved in such a way that it is a clear violation of the SU code of conduct. If you wish to make known a case o misconduct and to trigger the investigation procedure, then you would need to submit a formal complaint to the SU President.
- Community, Culture and Conduct Training: This session looked at how student groups can foster a positive and safe environment and how to challenge negative behaviour and conduct issues within your group. It runs through what to do when things go wrong and sets out the responsibilities of committees.
- Inclusivity & Diversity: This session covered ways that you can make your group more accessible and inclusive and how you can support and empower members from diverse backgrounds to get involved with your activities.
- Future Training Opportunities: We will be looking at running more training sessions throughout the year so make sure to keep an eye out for updates from the Student Opportunities Team.
The Student Opportunities Team
Lastly, the Student Opportunities team is here to help! There’s a whole team of people designated to support your group so if you’re not sure or are facing problems then please do reach out. Just drop us a Freshdesk ticket or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get back to you.