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Warwick SU: back to the future

Warwick’s Students’ Union has changed out of all recognition over the years. The second half of 2009 will see its most ambitious transformation in several decades. Stuart Thomson and Andrew Bradley, Students’ Union Presidents for 2008 - 09 and 2009 – 10, give a flavour of what returning alumni can expect to see.

Prominent role

Despite its relative youth, there is no doubt that the University of Warwick has enjoyed a rich and vibrant history since its formation in 1965. Playing an extremely prominent role in that history has been the hard work and commitment of the student body through Warwick Students’ Union.

Many of you will have fond memories of the Union. Over the past 12 months, it has undergone its most dramatic change yet – a complete transformation of the Union South building.

This major redevelopment of one of the most used buildings on the Warwick campus is a definite milestone for the Students’ Union. It shows how much has changed since the battles between the Union and University of the 1960s and 70s.


Warwick’s reputation as a hotbed of political activism during this period regularly resulted in student occupations of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, campaigning for a Union building. Infamously, the then VC Jack Butterworth stated that ’The Students’ Union will never have its own building.’ Fortunately that’s not how things worked out, and the statement is now permanently etched onto the walls of the Union’s new pub, The Dirty Duck.

Today’s Students’ Union is truly valued by the University, playing a key and central role in the delivery of a world class student experience fit for a world class institution. Having served students faithfully for over 30 years the Union building was reaching the end of its life and in woeful need of investment and improvement. At £11 million, the redevelopment project is the biggest physical change the Union has seen in its history.

A true presence at the heart of campus

As building works reach their final stages, it is easy to see how positively the new Warwick SU building is going to impact on students and staff on campus. The old building, no longer fit for purpose, lacked style, space and an obvious way in! Now replaced with a stunning new frontage onto the piazza, more space and modern facilities, Warwick SU will have an identity, an entrance and a true presence at the heart of campus.

The Copper Rooms, a 2,000 capacity nightclub named following a student vote, opened in June 2009 alongside The Dirty Duck,. With the remaining building work set to be completed by December 2009, the New Year will bring with it a fantastic new Students’ Union when students return from their Christmas break. Central to the new building is the glass fronted café spilling out onto the piazza. The copper roof hovering above the piazza will also house a stylish terrace bar with a new food outlet and pool room on the upper floor, overlooking the exciting new atrium space.


Looking to the future the Union is also planning a further addition to its infrastructure, with a target to build an ambitious state-of-the-art media centre. For the first time students, youth groups, school children, disadvantaged and disabled groups will have the opportunity to come together, ignite each other’s creativity, stimulate ideas and improve their media literacy. The media centre’s mission will be to bring technology and talent together under one roof, uniting the campus and the local community.

One thing is for certain: the Students’ Union would not be where it is today without the fantastic hard work and commitment of our students over the past 44 years. Whilst Student Unions across the country are constantly evolving, Warwick SU continues to be at the forefront of change. As a Union we are ever thankful for your support during your time as a Warwick student, whether you demonstrated to get our first building back in 1974, took part in One World Week or ran one of our 300 clubs and societies. Thank you for your time and make sure you pop back and pay us a visit.

The new Warwick SU building will officially open on Friday January 15 2010. To attend the opening festivities or to find out more about the exciting new media centre, please contact the President of the Students' Union.

You can find out more about the redevelopment of the Union on their website.