Students’ Union’s 100 years

November 2nd, 2014

The University of Nottingham Students’ Union celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

The start of the new academic year kicked off a series of special events and activities, including reunions and exhibitions celebrating a century of welfare, advocacy, campaigning, social events, sporting activities and an ever growing and rich mix of students’ societies.

For many undergraduates extra-curricular activities played a part in their lives which proved at least as important as their academic study. And at the heart of this was, and still is, the Students’ Union.

From its tireless fundraising and voluntary work to its role in providing advice, welfare and entertainment, campaigning and political protest, the Students’ Union has held firm on its determination to make students’ lives better.

Although there was a Student Association in existence at University College, Nottingham as early as 1878, organising talks, presentations and outings to local beauty spots, it was in 1913 that a Students’ Union was formed at Nottingham to replace the Representative Council. Its aims were to promote unity, intercourse and social responsibility and to provide “a proper channel of communication between the students in all matters affecting their interests”.

The subscription was 2s 6d per session which gave admission to athletics clubs and affiliated societies of which there were four in 1913: the literary and philosophical society, the folk dance society, the natural history society and the engineering society. Almost 300 people joined the union in the 1913-14 academic year and from this platform a number of clubs, especially sports, were established.

A lack of space and the paternalistic, tight control of authority seemed to be among the earliest concerns. Conversation in the common rooms was limited to specified times of the day, dancing  was permitted once during each session and refreshments could only be served at a student meeting at the discretion of the Principal.

The First World War years brought about a suspension of student activities but the Union did produce its own handbook in 1915 containing a variety of useful notes including some ‘hints’ for freshers, which included the following guidance:

  • If you feel you want a nursery or a bear garden go outside till it passes off
  • Don’t wear “Here-I-Come” apparel
  • Don’t do a day’s work on Monday and then spend the rest of the week admiring it
  • Endeavour to behave in the common rooms as you would in your home
  • If you have an hour or two to spare don’t go and spend it with a man who hasn’t

The University of Nottingham Students’ Union today is a student-led and independent charity representing 43,000 students in 150 countries across the University’s campuses. It supports more than 200 societies and 77 sports clubs, award-winning radio and TV station, theatre and magazine and Karnival, Europe’s largest student-run charity, which last year raised more than £1.6m for a variety of charities.

Look out for special events throughout the year and please do share your memories.

Calling all the heroes

Whether you graduated this year or more than half a century ago, we can all think of someone who helped make our Nottingham experience memorable. And Alumni Relations is looking for One Hundred Heroes.

As part of the SU centenary celebrations the Alumni team is launching an appeal to all current and former staff and students to tell about the people and the societies who touched their lives most during their time at University so that they might be recognised. It might be a fellow student, a tutor or lecturer, a sports coach or someone in the local community.

There are four categories:

  • Leaders and Champions
  • Unsung Heroes
  • Tutors and Lecturers
  • Clubs and Societies

Some of the best submissions will be showcased in One Hundred Heroes, an exhibition in the Portland Building on University Park in 2014, as well as featuring a selection in an online exhibition.

You can make as many or as few nominations as you wish. Your nomination could just be a few lines or a biography. There will be space to include far more nominations online. If you have photographs, posters, magazines or other memorabilia you can scan and send to Alumni Relations that would be wonderful, or you could lend  material which will be copied and returned to you.

A One Hundred Heroes committee of past and present students will study the submissions and decide what to include in the exhibitions. Closing date for submissions is Friday 20 December 2013.

t: +44 (0)115 823 2408

One Hundred Heroes
Alumni Relations
University of Nottingham
Portland Building
University Park Campus

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