Sunday, October 12, 2008

'the' Oxford Union

12th October 2008, Sunday

Today was a quiet day. It was unlike most of the days in the last two weeks when I had self-inflicted a ‘being driven’ attitude to accomplish things, or rather to get a sense of something being accomplished. The Fresher’s fortnight of the Michaelmas term have been fresh but not very refreshing after all. There are an umpteen things that every new student at the University of Oxford is to take note of, act and then tick off on his/her ‘things to do list’. This is most part reflects on the innumerable activities happening in the University town and the wide array of activities that one can participate and enrich oneself in. The Fresher’s fair was a window to the world of a student at Oxford. There was everything from a Communist Society, Rowing and Cricket to singing, and dancing and Cultural clubs.

One of the rewarding choices I made today is to seek a life membership at the Oxford Union . The Oxford Union is host to some of the best debates in the world and eminent personalities have come and either debated or delivered speeches in this august place. The Union describes the origin well as follows “The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 182 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.

The Union is steeped in history. It was founded in 1823 as a forum for discussion and debate, at a time when the free exchange of ideas was a notion foreign to the restrictive University authorities. It soon became the only place for students to discuss political topics whilst at Oxford. W.E. Gladstone, later to become one of the greatest British Prime Ministers, was one of the leading figures of the Union's early years. Gladstone was President of the Union in 1830, shortly before entering the House of Commons. Many others have followed him into politics, and the Union can boast dozens of former members who have been active in its affairs whilst at Oxford and then gone to become both nationally and internationally prominent figures.

After having read their literature and heard from its members personally (most others in Oxford recommend its membership too), I was sure this will be one of those ‘must experience’ things at Oxford. I am looking forward to witness No Confidence Debate this coming Thursday.

I look forward to sharing more on these experiences in future.