Riley Awards Goes Virtual for 2020

The annual Riley Awards returned this year on May 1st to celebrate the achievements of the 330+ clubs and societies at the University of Leeds, with awards ranging from Best In Category, Most Improved, and Best GIAG.

Despite the coronavirus causing large disruptions around us, the student exec did not let this prevent the Riley Awards proceeding. Instead of being postponed or cancelled, this year’s Riley Awards went digital. Hosted online by Leeds Student Television, it was a fantastic of event as always.

The clubs and societies are a wonderful addition to the student experience at the University, helping to build new skills and meet new people, so it is wonderful that the Riley Awards could close the year by recognizing their importance.

Activities Officer Lydia Evans hosted the evening, with the help and input from an array of student execs. The show included virtual performances from a variety of societies, including Performance and Music societies and the Vertical Dance society. All the virtual performances, alongside the Awards show itself, highlighted the strength and resilience of LUU and the students in the face of adversity.

With the novel coronavirus in mind, the Riley Awards included a range of awards in recognition. Alongside the ‘Covid-19 response’ award, which recognised the efforts of a range of societies in continuing their great work in spite of the pandemic, there was also ‘Best Virtual Society’ up for grabs. This award was won by Leeds Student Radio, having been named the group that has come up with the most creative ways to keep running even when they cannot do so in person. 

Not only have LSR maintained their breakfast and home time shows, but they have also introduced new events. For instance, they ran a four-hour show on Easter Sunday, as well as hosting weekly Fruity events online.

Speaking to Pippa Morgan, Head of Breakfast at LSR, she told me:

“In terms of how we’ve adjusted to the pandemic, I think that’s definitely what makes me so proud to be on the committee for this society as so many people have just been so determined and not let it stop them at all. We’re broadcasting from all over the country in our bedrooms and, to be honest, that is what makes it so fun; it is radio like we have never done before!”

As always, the final award of the night was for ‘Best Society’, chosen from the winners of each category. This years’ winners were LGBT+ Society.

LGBT+ Society have had an incredible year. They have hosted a variety of events, including LGBT+ history months, a trip to Manchester to collaborate with LGBT+ societies at different universities, as well as working with the welfare societies at LUU to promote the society through the union ‘Welfair’. 

Asking LGBT+ about why they thought the society was an important part of LUU, having come away with three Riley Awards this year, I was told that the society believes it’s really important to have a safe space on campus that is for LGBT+ people, ran by LGBT+ people. Further, following this, the society stated that it was definitely a priority for them to ensure that all LGBT+ people had a place they could go where they would be accepted regardless of who they are, which the society find necessary when family and friends may not be as supportive.

When speaking to Jess Whiting-Boult, LGBT+ Society Chair 2019/20, about what the society hoped to do in the future, Jess responded that, due to the uncertainty surrounding a return to campus, they are continuing their programme of virtual events (including their coffee hour) without focusing too much on the next academic year. Regardless, they hope the society continues to be a safe space for LGBT+ students and that the society will go from strength to strength, having elected a new committee which Jess says they have every faith in. 

Congratulations to LGBT+ society, as well as LSR and all the societies at LUU.

Photo credit: LUU LGBTQ+ Society and LSR Facebook Pages