The Student’s Union Building is an amazing resource. Most student’s unions in the UK are housed in horrifying concrete blocks (for which they pay a fortune in rent) and can barely maintain. But not NUSU. Remarkably, our union is housed in the same, hundred-year-old, purpose-built, Neo-Jacobean building. What’s more, NUSU owns this building, thanks to money donated by Sir Cecil Cochrane MP. The Union building is an incredible gift from those who came before. It puts our interests on the map at the centre of the university where they undoubtedly belong.
Furthermore, I am a believer in the value of aesthetics. I believe we can only achieve great things and get a world-leading and historic education if we live and work in a great place and learn on a world-leading and historic campus. And the Student’s Union fulfils this to the tee.
Every morning when I arrive on campus, hungover, miserable and wishing I lived somewhere with balmy weather, I stand outside the union and look at it. I look at the clean brickwork, sandstone and crested porch, golden clock, and manicured hedges. It makes me feel proud, and acknowledge how privileged I am to be here. I truly think it makes me take my education more seriously. It certainly makes me feel better about my day.
Does the Bedson building make you feel like that? How about the dreadful Daysh? Or the thoroughly monstrous Herschel? I doubt it. So many university campuses, ours included, are covered in nasty, 20th-century monoliths, that hang above our heads like grim harbingers of the dystopian future we see in films.
Once you build these hateful things, they’re with us forever. And many of them were built only forty years after our Union Building was built. The Union Building is therefore probably the last beautiful building we’ll ever get unless the world agrees to start building beautifully again.
But mostly, I love the Union Building because of what goes on inside. It is a place run by the student body, for the student body. It is the home of the Student Council and this excellent paper, as well as the societies we love, nurture and build. It is the spiritual home of the Newcastle University community, the beating heart of our shabby little society.
It’s quite simply a beautiful, wonderful place, and we are lucky beyond measure to have it.