Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a private debating society whose membership is drawn primarily from the University of Oxford. The Oxford Union was founded in 1823 using the Cambridge Union as a model. It has gained a worldwide reputation for the cut and thrust of its debate, proving a valuable training ground for many future British prime ministers. Its top members compete internationally against other top debating societies, and Oxford regularly fields one of the most successful teams at the World Universities Debating Championships.
The Oxford Union is often confused by visitors with the Oxford University Student Union, a completely separate organisation at Oxford which is the officially recognised student representative body of the University.
The Oxford Union buildings are located in Frewin Court, off Cornmarket Street and St. Michael's Street, and contain a library as well as the famous debating chamber, which has played host to such figures as the Dalai Lama, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Winston Churchill, Jon Bon Jovi, Diego Maradona, Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, David Blaine, Michael Jackson and Kermit the Frog.
The society is run by a committee of students, elected every term from the membership. The post of President of the Oxford Union is much sought-after, and is often the starting point for a successful political career (though more recently a career in management consulting is a more typical destination). Famous past presidents include:
- Herbert Henry Asquith
- Benazir Bhutto
- William Ewart Gladstone
- Edward Heath
- Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, the Lord Dufferin
- Robin Day
- Tony Benn
- Giles Brandreth
The Society engages in elections every term, in which candidates are not allowed to canvass for votes - they may not tell anyone beyond their "close, personal friends" that they are running for election.
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