Speaking in general, societies or clubs in any university, serve as a platform for its members to showcase and enhance their managerial and leadership skills. Undoubtedly, if worked with true letter and spirit, it imparts the confidence that is highly required to survive in this world of competition. Speaking from the student’s side, it’s no less than a stage to exhibit one’s indigenous talent and one’s skills to the world. It’s a platform to get recognized ranging from the local to the international level.
At UET, a lot of societies are working which is a good sign that uetians too are full of exuberance and are passionate to play their role. But in my view most of them have their goals at sixes and sevens. Most of the societies, not naming any, claim to be a technical society in their draft, a society that aims to promote co-curricular activities relating to a particular engineering but in reality they couldn’t be more far-off. Their annual or semester-events are more themed on extra-curricular activities than technical ones. Here is, where I think they have confused themselves and failed to demarcate the line between extra and co-curricular activities. To make it clear, I definitely do not think that engineers should distance themselves from concerts, games or dramatics. Rather I think that these extra-curricular activities should be left with the societies that are specifically designed for these domains. It seems ridiculous that a society that is supposed to organize a Workshop, Seminar, Competition or Project exhibition pour in their efforts to arrange things like Dramatics, Movie screenings, Concerts or Sky Lanterns.
Many reasons lead to this confusion. The most prominent in my view is the competition. However instead of being a healthy competition, things have taken a turn for the worse. Societies in order to thrive, to supersede others try to distinguish themselves from others. They try to introduce unique things to attract the students or in some cases they try to outdo the other society. For example, if one society calls a motivational speaker to its event, the other tries to call two at its event. This thing has taken them away from its natural domain. Their skirmish has taken more or less the pattern of PMLN vs PTI where both try to fill the seats to portray the success of their event. Sometimes they are justified in their stance as students tend to go for entertainment opportunities rather than for technical events. More interest is shown for concerts, sky lanterns and screening than a technical exhibition and that is a predicament for an engineering university. But that doesn’t mean a technical society should focus more on extra-curricular events, maligning the very basics of its own ideology. On the other hand, if they want to focus more on extra-curricular activities, then they should at the very least change their name…here they can learn something from Hafiz Saeed.
In conclusion, what needs to be done is to demarcate between extra and co-curricular activities and particularly the societies. Students who have more potential or inclination towards concerts, games, dramatics and motivational talks should strengthen the societies destined for these purposes or if not they can initiate a society on their own. On the other hand, the prime focus of the technical societies should be on seminars, workshops catering to the changing technologies and trends around the world and imparting practical knowledge to the students. No doubt societies are doing it to some extent but they need to increase their efforts. Special focus needs to be given to improve the communication skills and confidence of UETians in which they are severely lacking. Lack of these skills is crippling their survival in the job market. What technical societies should do here is to arrange more and more presentation-competitions and mock interviews. Further they should arrange interaction sessions of students with the industries. This will at least reduce the interaction gap between the industries and students, which other universities are rapidly filling up.