For those about to begin their journey at Durham University, many congratulations on your recent results, and a very warm welcome to the Durham Union Society. To all our returners, I hope you had an enjoyable summer break, and we look forward to welcoming you back.

The Durham Union Society is the University’s largest and oldest student society, founded in 1842. Like the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, the Durham Union was founded to inspire the next generation of students, by providing them with opportunities to listen to (and meet) leading figures from public life, either through debates on the pressing matters of the day, or through celebrity addresses. Our purpose remains the same to this day. The Durham Union Society attracts expert speakers from every conceivable field: from scientists to actors, journalists to sportspeople, and politicians to musicians. It is through this tradition that the Durham Union has earned its place as the North of England’s premier debating institution. Indeed, alumni of the Durham Union range from Jeremy Vine to General Lord Dannatt, and from Mo Mowlam to Sir Edward Leigh.

This coming Michaelmas Term we have a great line-up of debates and addresses for you. Debate topics range from whether the UN is a failing organisation to whether we should sacrifice more privacy for national security. If you aren’t a member of the Union or are thinking of joining, why not come along to our first debate of term, on the motion ‘This House Believes Liberalism is in Retreat’ – it is open to all students, free of charge, on Friday 13th October at 8:30pm in our Debating Chamber on Palace Green. Our first address of term (held in the same place at the same time but on Monday 9th October) by BBC election polling expert, Professor John Curtice, is also open to non-members. Our addresses this term are set to be delivered by an incredibly diverse mix of speakers, including diplomats, politicians, leading military figures and economists.

However, the Union is far more than just a forum for debate - it is also an important social hub. With over 3000 student members, attending Durham Union events as a Fresher is a great way to meet like-minded people and make friends with those from different colleges and courses. Indeed, the Union has its own bar, situated within our 24 North Bailey Club. Commonly known as ‘24s’, the bar is popular with our members, and holds the Union’s well-known social events. This term we will dedicate one of our socials to celebrating 175 years since the founding of the Union, as well as our annual Christmas social, and there will be regular weekend events being run in the 24s bar. Of course, our flagship social event, the Michaelmas Ball, will be held on Wednesday, 8th November, and this year with a Masquerade theme. Tickets sell our rapidly, so make sure you buy yours today! It’ll be a great evening of fine food and drink, live music and high-quality entertainment – an occasion not to be missed.

For those considering buying membership of the Union, think about becoming a member as an investment - and one of the best value investments you will make in your time at University. In return for your investment, you will have the opportunity to meet hundreds of the most influential men and women in global public life, free social opportunities, full access to the Union’s 24 North Bailey Club, including opportunities to live and work there, and the opportunity to learn the art of debating as a novice or hone your skills with our world class debating squad. You can of course become involved in the running of the society through committees and officer positions, which is great for your CV, and a highly rewarding way to use your free time as a student. There is no other society in Durham that matches the Union in its size, volume of speakers, and general regularity of events. It is fair to say that it is hard to gain the true Durham experience without membership of the Union

I very much hope to see you at the Union this Michaelmas.

President Daniel Cohen

Daniel Cohen
President, Michaelmas Term 2017