Students at the University of Sydney
Student clubs and organisations
The University of Sydney Union (USU)]]
The USU is the oldest and largest student organisation in Australia. It aims to foster the aspirations of the campus community by providing cultural, social and entertainment programs, and student clubs and societies. It supports over 200 clubs and societies that students can join to pursue theirown interest. The USU also looks after much of the on-campus catering and also publishes the weekly campus magazine 'The Bull' ... visit the USU website.
On this webpage:
- Sydney University Union (The Men's Union) 1874
- The Men's Union Building 1912
- The Women's Common Room 1885
- Early women's unions from 1892
- The Women's Union and building (Manning House) 1917
- Amalgamation of the two unions into USU, 1972
The Sydney University Union (SUU) was established in 1874 for debating, at a time when the University had fewer than a hundred students.
The Men's Common Room 1884
In 1884, the University's Senate provided a men’s common room for the union near the main Quadrangle.
However, by the late 1880s this had become inadequate with insufficient ventilation, space and furniture. A larger weatherboard building was erected adjoining the existing common room and, while this fell short of the students’ requests, it was welcomed and provided temporary relief.
In 1888 the Sydney University Association petitioned the Senate for a new suite of rooms, one of which would be allocated to the University Union for meetings.
In 1906, Senate decided to provide a building for the union's use. This building is now known as the Holme Building, named after the first president following the organisation's reconstitution in 1911, Assistant Professor E.R. Holme; the building, although not completed until 1916, was occupied in 1912, with extensions made in 1924, 1935, 1954 and 1957.
Admission of women 1881
In 1881 the Senate decided unanimously to admit women to the University on equal terms with men. The arrival of women greatly influenced the development of recreational and sporting facilities.
One of the basic requirements for the admission of women was the provision of ‘a suitable retiring room and other necessary conveniences set apart exclusively for female students.’ Senate intended to erect a small cottage at the rear of the main buildings. However, this did not eventuate and for the first few years after their admission, women had use of a room in the tower.
In 1885 women students were given partial use of a temporary weatherboard building that had been built as a laboratory for classes in practical chemistry. In 1889 this building was handed over completely to women as the ‘New Ladies Common Room.’ Situated in what is now the south-eastern end of the Quadrangle, the building contained a reading room, a common room used for lunches, debates and meetings, tutor’s room, kitchen and a small dressing room with lockers.
Sydney University Women's Association was formed in 1892 - to include women undergraduates and graduates, but which was predominantly graduate.
The Women's Debating Union was formed in 1896.
In 1899 the Sydney University Women Undergraduates Union was formed (incorporating the Women's Debating Union) - subsequently changing its name to the Sydney University Women Undergraduates Association.
In 1908 the Women’s Association was reconstituted as the Women’s Union and launched a campaign with the Women Undergraduate’s Association to have a new and extensive
building erected to replace the temporary wooden cottage used as a common room, which was now inadequate due to the increasing number of women students.
In 1913 the Senate agreed to allocate funds for construction of a union building for women students. It was decided to name the new building ‘Manning House’ in tribute to the former Chancellor
who had been responsible for the admission of women to the University.
A separate Sydney University Women's Union (SUWU) was formed in 1914 on the initiative of Senate, to be a society of University women which represented all sections of University life and to control the building of Manning House for the Women's Union, which would be funded by Senate.
Manning House (for the Women's Union) opened in 1917.
The two unions amalgamated on 1 January 1972 to form the University of Sydney Union (USU).