Society Diary: CSC Awards

Going to university is seen as the opportunity to broaden your mind, educate yourself on the works of Nietzsche, Rousseau and Marx. Before arriving in college you are vaguely aware of the wild social life that students lead, yet as a teenager you tend to link that with going out to clubs every night. I, for one, never imagined the wide-ranging pool of societies and activities which awaited me as I walked through Front Arch for the first time a few years back. Societies are what make a university tick. They’re where you meet the friends you’ll never lose contact with. They’re the places where you can finally act like the complete weirdo that you are, and no one will judge you for it. They are what make your four years in Trinity College. I wonder, though, how many students are fully aware of the amount of work that goes into the running of a society, and the number of societies which exist on campus? The CSC is the place for the answers to these questions.
Until this year, the Central Societies Committee was, for me, a group of people I heard of now and again in passing. It has only been in recent months that I’ve come to understand what their work on campus entails and more importantly how it affects the societies we all treasure so dearly. The main event of the academic year for the CSC is the awards season. Unfortunately I am not talking about the Oscars, Césars or Baftas, but the CSC do put together a pretty good show when it comes to rewarding the hard work of Trinity’s societies. I discovered this last week when I got the opportunity to tag along and see what happens on the night when everyone gives everyone else a pat on the back.
It was a revelation for me to sit in the packed Hilton Hotel dining room and look around at all the different people filing in for the awards. Of course, in black-tie they all looked slightly smarter than their usual bedraggled student selves, yet I was surprised to see many familiar faces of people I didn’t know were involved in society activities. It is easy to forget the huge amount of energy and labour which is necessary to hold a society together. With over one-hundred societies on campus I don’t know why I was surprised by the number of people attending the awards. Everyone was there; that girl who sits across from you in the library, that guy who always seems to be hanging around outside having a smoke, even that girl you met during your own Freshers’ Week and hadn’t seen since. With groups ranging from the Joly Geological Society to the Comedy Society, the mix of people was fantastic. It really was a true insight into the eclectic mix of people who make Trinity the great university that it is.
It made sense to start the night off with the awards, before the food or drink arrived. I can see this now in hindsight, looking back on the dancing queens who graced the dance floor with their moves the moment the DJ kicked off. Somehow I don’t think those shaking hips would have been hugely appreciated during the awards ceremony. And so the evening kicked off with the prize-giving. The Visual Arts Society jumped up first to grab the Best Small Society award, soon followed by the Photographic Society for Best Medium Society. However, it was the prize for Best Large Society which grabbed my attention the most.
I won’t deny that during my first two years in Trinity I was very active in this society, therefore some may feel that my view of this group of people is somewhat biased. Yet I like to think, having spent the last two years slightly more distanced from them, that I can objectively assess the work they do. This year DU Players has been very successful at becoming a more accessible, interesting, fun and diverse society. From an impressive Freshers’ Week calendar to nights with recognised faces such as Bill Nighy and Stephen Berkoff, I’m not surprised that Players scooped up this award. A lot of the credit must go to the chairperson of this society. Ross Dungan, who, quite unsurprisingly may I add, won Best Individual this year in addition to being chairperson of the Best Large Society. Although many of us may question whether his degree has survived this year, Ross has succeeded in turning DU Players back into one of the best societies on campus. All societies have their up and down years, and it seemed that recently Players had begun to fall a bit off the radar when it came to recognition from the CSC. But this year, under the chair of Dungan, they have jumped back into the spotlight.
One of the more entertaining moments of the night was when the winner of Best Fresher was announced. I think that most people will agree when I say that seeing that chair of Singers, Robbie Blake, bounding up with excitement and enthusiasm to collect this award was slightly bemusing. Hold on, isn’t Robbie Blake in second-year and wasn’t the winner of the prize called Cian McCarthy? It seems this problem was rectified later in the night, or so I am led to believe from the photo which is posted on the CSC website.
The main moment came after we had been fed and watered, when Best Overall Society was announced. Through the screams and shouts of congratulations, I was happy to hear that the winner was the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The members of committee were full of smiles as they were presented with their award to the sounds of a standing ovation from the audience. A short but sweet speech from Seán Flynn, the chair of the society, brought the prize-giving to a slightly noisy and excited end.
And so my first and unfortunately final experience of the CSC ball came to a close with some hardcore breaking it down on the dancefloor. Having written this column on various society events over this year, it was a great experience to find myself immersed amongst all the creative groups and clubs of our university. And of course, many thanks to the CSC for a wonderful night. As for the societies, keep up the good work. You’re made the past four years some of the most memorable of my life.