our heritage

Student representation has existed in St Andrews in its modern form since the the very first Students' Representative Council formed in the 1880's. The 'SRC' was, and still is, the representative arm of the student body, electing members (that is, students) to speak up on behalf of students on issues that were important to them. In it's early years it produced a popular publication for the 200 or so students at the time called 'College Echoes'. These still exist within the Special Collections and are full of amusing stories and funny poems about St Andrews life. The SRC admitted both men and women, and it was in St Andrews that we had one of the first ever women to be elected to public office on parity with men with the election of Miss Watson in January 1897 to the SRC. 

From the 1923 there was also a 'Union' formed separately from the 'Students' Representative Council', firstly for men and then separately for women. The Unions existed for a quite different purpose - to organise the social activities of student life, particularly at a time when society was more socially conservative and it was thought best by some that the students should congregate exclusively within their own 'clubhouses'. 

The Men's Union was at 75 North Street, the site of our present day Coffee Shop, and the Women's Union next door on the site now occupied by the ASC. One of the popular features of the unions was the weekly 'Hop', a forerunner of today's Friday night 'BOP'. Popular music, almost certainly of the woodwind and strings kind, was played in the dance hall, what is today the 'Old Union Diner' exam and lecture hall, above the Coffee Shop. Men and women would line up awkwardly on opposite sides of the room and try to muster the courage for a dance (not much has changed there). Another feature were the regular 'Dines', or subsidised meals organised by the President of the SRC and staff, today remembered by the annual 'Scott Lang Dinner'.

The Men's and Women's Unions united in 1963, but the SRC remained a distinct body from The Union with a separate purpose. Both organisations moved into the purpose-built current premises on St Mary's Place in 1973. The separation of the two bodies changed with the formation of the Students' Association in 1989, which finally brought together the Students' Representative Council and The Union. The practice of separate 'Unions' and 'SRCs' still continues at Glasgow University, and in other forms in England, such as at Oxford University.

Today, the broad range of activities of the Students' Association encompassed under one organisation is one of the key strengths of Your Union (a term we still use because it is easy to understand). This is represented in the broad roles of Your Sabbatical Officers, where the President and DoEd tend to focus on representational activities associated with the SRC, and the DoEs, DoSDA, and DoWell are more in tune with the social and activity side of things. As a result, we are much stronger in our voice to our members, the university and the outside world, as well as being in a better place to understand what's important to you, the students.