22 Facts About Cambridge Union


Cambridge Union Society, known as the Cambridge Union, is a debating and free speech society in Cambridge, England, and the largest society in the University of Cambridge.

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Additionally, the Cambridge Union has served as a model for the foundation of similar societies at several other prominent universities, including the Oxford Union and the Yale Political Union.

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The Cambridge Union is a registered charity and is completely separate from the Cambridge University Students' Union.

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Cambridge Union has a long and extensive tradition of hosting prominent figures from all areas of public life in its chamber, both state- and international-based, including the Dalai Lama, President Ronald Reagan, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and John Major, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, as well as comedian Stephen Fry.

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Cambridge Union was founded on 13 February 1815, eight years before the Oxford Union was founded in 1823.

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Cambridge Union is sometimes confused with the Cambridge University Students' Union, the student representative body set up in 1971; consequently, the term 'President of the Union' may cause confusion.

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In 2015 the Cambridge Union celebrated its bicentenary; a committee composed of former and current Officers was put together to organise a range of events to mark the occasion.

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Cambridge Union receives no formal funding from the University and raises funds for event expenses and building maintenance through membership fees and sponsorship.

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For most of its history the Cambridge Union was an all-male club.

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Cambridge Union launched online membership in late 2015, which allowed any student around the world access to live streams of events for an annual subscription.

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Cambridge Union puts on a wide variety of events for its members, but is best known for its Thursday night debates and individual speaker events.

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Cambridge Union is an organisation that was founded and is headed by students.

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All Officers of the Cambridge Union are elected by its membership on a termly basis, with the exception of the Vice-President, Treasurer and two Debating Officers, who are appointed on an annual basis.

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Whilst the Trustees are not intimately involved with the day-to-day running of the Cambridge Union, they maintain ultimate legal responsibility for the organization, its assets and status as a registered charity.

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Review Committee of the Cambridge Union is a committee of former Officers appointed by Standing Committee under the guidance of the Vice President.

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The Cambridge Union holds contracts for catering, cleaning, building maintenance, property management, IT services and legal advice.

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Cambridge Union was famous within the University for having a very long and complicated constitution; it is a common rumour that the constitution is longer than the entire Constitution of Canada.

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On 9 May 2011, the Cambridge Union launched its online public video service CUS-Connect, whereby recordings of past events and interviews were uploaded for free viewing.

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In June 2019, the hosting of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attracted criticism from the Union of Jewish Students, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and several former Cambridge Union members including former President Adam Cannon due to the former's anti-Semitic remarks.

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In February 2022, the Cambridge Union hosted the Israel ambassador Tzipi Hotovely in a high-security, balloted event, resulting in protests and minor vandalism of the premises.

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The National Union of Students used the exclusion to argue that the passage of the Bill was too rapid and ill-thought out, whilst both the Oxford and Cambridge Union reaffirmed that they were not legally part of their respective Universities and thus were never subject to the bill in the first place.

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Cambridge Union called a referendum on the hosting of Julian Assange on 22 October 2015, arguing that his residency in the Ecuadorian Embassy meant he was outside the jurisdiction of UK law, and thus required the consultation of its members considering a lack of past precedent.

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