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News archive 2008

KCLSU celebrates 100th anniversary

04 Dec 2008

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first students’ union general meeting at King’s College London. To celebrate this significant landmark in KCLSU history, a number of events are taking place in conjunction with the Alumni Office.

The Union Society at King’s can actually trace its beginnings to December 1873 when students were first granted the use of a common room, making it the oldest student union in England. Five years later the common room organisation was first named the Union Society of King’s College when the societies for all the College’s individual faculties were incorporated within a new constitution. The Union soon ran into financial and other difficulties, however, and had to be taken over by the Engineering Society in 1885.

Then according to College historian FJC Hearnshaw: ‘In 1908 the Union Society appears to have been completely reorganized at a general meeting held on Friday December 4, and to have taken over both the athletic club and all social activities of the College.’

It was at this point that College Council agreed to a sum being deducted from the fees of every student to support it. The Union was an all-male organisation, and when large numbers of students were called up during the First World War it again nearly collapsed, but was saved by the arrival of women students at the Strand from Kensington in 1915

In 1908 the first president was appointed - F Hanson. Other notable presidents include Sir Ivison Macadam, who following his term of office at KCLSU went on to be the founding president at the National Union of Students.

Most innovative

Today King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) is one of the most innovative students’ unions in the country. It works to represent and support King’s students in practical ways, ensuring that they have the best possible experience during their time at the College. It achieves this by providing students with personal development opportunities to broaden their intellectual and social interests. 

Each year KCLSU helps prepare more than 4,000 new students for their life at university, enables around 6,500 students pursue their sporting, cultural, religious and political passions, supports more than 3,000 volunteers, stages 60 live gigs, and operates a diverse portfolio of social enterprises that jointly turnover £2 million.

In 2005 it became an independent charity and, in 2006, was the first students’ union in the UK to appoint a board of trustees consisting of both students and non-students. Most recently, KCLSU became the first students’ union in the country to provide an e-petitioning service.

Pete Ellender, Vice-President Student Media and Engagement, comments: ‘KCLSU’s centenary provides an excellent opportunity for the students’ union to reconnect to its past, to take stock of all that we have achieved over the last 100 years and to celebrate these accomplishments. It is an honour and a pleasure work to represent and support King’s students, and the centenary celebrations help to remind us of the positive contribution that KCLSU has made, and continues to make, to the community of King’s College London.’ 

Events planned to celebrate the anniversary include: 

5 December – Phase 100, the regular Friday club night, but for one night only, open to alumni as well as current students

7 February – Centenary Dinner, The Great Hall, Lincoln’s Inn; a black tie event to raise money for KCLSU, specifically a sports volunteering project to be launched

20 March – Any Questions? The popular BBC Radio 4 show will be coming to King’s

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