The Nations – Worlds Apart in the Hunt for FreshmenNews
In the aftermath of the registration period, representatives are able present stats that are overall gratifying. From initially having lost hundreds of members every semester, the receding numbers come to a halt at a few per cent this year.
“Of course, it’s very gratifying that we manage to maintain the currently high level of people joining Studentlund. It shows that the concept works, says Björn Johansson, President of Kuratorskollegiet, the association for all the nations in Lund except Småland’s.
All or nothing. That was the solution that the majority of the student organizations came up with in Studenlund to respond to the abolishing of the union and nation obligation. But in spite of the increasingly intense collaboration, the nations remain bitter rivals concerning one thing – the hunt for freshmen.
When the nations try to attract as many as possible of the almost 6 000 new students who want everything that is generally considered to be the Lund student life, securing regrowth is a struggle. And in this struggle, the nations have been performing on different levels.
Wermland’s – still the smallest one
Wermland’s is, just like last year, struggling to attract new members as well as holding on to old ones. When the numbers were evaluated, Wermland’s only accounted for 810 members, which is a 12 per cent decrease in one year, and that makes them the smallest nation among the ones in association with Studenlund. The only one smaller is Småland’s with 457 members. Also, Sydskånskan’s and Krischanstad’s are also showing receding trends in terms of attracting members.
Blekingska’s increased the most
An example where things are looking better is Blekingska’s, which in terms of number of members, landed just above the 1000 member limit , and they are a 14 per cent bigger nation than last year. And then there is Malmö’s, which is attracting most of the freshmen in comparison to its size. They are having a bright fall.
“But you shouldn’t focus too much on stats. They don’t give the whole picture of how a nation is doing. Not even economically because the receipts from members are, in reality, just a tiny part of the total of the total turnover. A nation with fewer members could still work perfectly fine, with dedicated foremen and officials, and they may very well have high attendance rates when organizing activities”, says Björn Johansson.
“How many freshmen a nation manages to attract mainly corresponds to the current popularity, and these things fluctuate. For instance, Wermland’s was the third largest nation not too long ago”, he says.
Text: Max Jedeur-Palmgren
Translation: Maximilian Aleman Tennell
Sofia Smede, kurator at Wermland’s nation, a nation which last year lost most members.
How does that make you feel?
“By then, I didn’t have this position, but it’s definitely a downer. I’ve got a good feeling though, our clubs and our coffee shop are doing well.”
What was your plan on attracting new members this year?
“I feel I don’t have to be specific about the way we attract new members, so I choose not to comment on it.”
What is your take on the members, in general, leaving Studentlund?
“You can tell it’s happening, but I think everything is more stable now, so we know how many we need to attend to.”
You came in the very last place last year as well. Is that worrying you?
“No, it doesn’t. I believe we’ll reach a turning point.”
What will you do for that to happen?
“Difficult to say right at this point.”
…Cecilia Patriksson, kurator at Blekingska’s nation, which, since last year, gained their share of members the most.
You had the highest increase, how do you feel about that?
“It’s great. I think we’re the only nation having increased in number of members since the obligation was abolished. It feels really good.”
What do you attribute to the increasing numbers?
“We’ve gotten much better at promotion. We’ve got a very flat organization, and that enables you to be quite influential. Also, lots of people say we’re very open and welcoming. We get lots of “nation swingers”, people who have been members of different nations, and then they come to us because they like what we do.
What will you do to keep attracting members?
“We’ll just keep exposing ourselves. That’s something we’ve been going hard at. And also, we’ll keep getting appealing events for our clubs.
… Klara Schultz, kurator at Sydskånska’s nation, whose member rate has decreased nine per cent since last year.
Why is that?
“I don’t know. The Studentlund member rate decreases overall so I don’t think it correlates to our nation.”
But why are you decreasing more than others?
“I’m not sure. Perhaps they are doing something we’re not. We can only work on promoting ourselves and to provide proper service. We can’tforce anybody to join us.”
It’s a problem that not as many join you?
“No, it’s not a problem. People have different reasons for joining certain nations, for instance, where their friends go.
How will you try to attract new members?
“We’ll see right before next semester. But I think that’s an issue for Studentlund to address.
… Martin Mattson, kurator at Malmö’s nation, which has increased its member rate by seven per cent since last year.
How does that make you feel?
“It’s exciting and it shows that our nation is attractive to people. It feels like we’re in the right direction.
Why have you managed to attract that many?
“We’re one of few nations open every day, so that people can study here. We have a frequent rotation of people, and it’s exciting being here.
Any pointers for other nations?
“I don’t know if I can come up with any pointers. These things will always fluctuate, but I think it’s good to follow the nation’s traditions and at the same time staying up to date.”
What did you do to attract people?
“We’ve worked a lot on promoting ourselves and our profile. We’ve been using social media. We try to be in the front seat when it comes to that and booking artists.