Oxford Union Society
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Commonly known as the Oxford Union, this is a private debating Society located in Oxford, UK. Founded in 1823 it is the second-oldest debating society in the United Kingdom, the Debating Society of the St Andrews Union being older. Contrary to what is commonly thought, the Union is not attached to the University of Oxford on any official basis (though it does represent the University at international debating competitions technically only open to universities). Membership is primarily open to members of Oxford University, and life membership is exclusively for members of the University, but students of Oxford Brookes University and residents of Oxford may also join.
While founded as a debating society, the Union also provides its members with access to the largest lending library in Oxford (outside the University), a members' bar, a nightclub (the "Purple Turtle"), snooker tables, television facilities, study rooms and rooms for private hire and frequent social events, including termly balls. The Old Library, formerly the debating chamber of the society, is decorated with priceless murals painted by the leading members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement while studying at Oxford, in particular Dante Gabriel Rosetti.
A Standing Committee runs the Society as a whole, being elected on a termly basis with Presidents and Treasurers being elected one term in advance. The competitive debating involvement of the Society is managed by the Debates Selection Committee (DSC).
Famous former Presidents include, British Prime Ministers, Herbert Asquith, William Gladstone, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath, Pakistani President Benzair Bhutto, and writers Tariq Ali and Hilaire Belloc. Every Irish taoiseach has addressed the Union and every modern US President up until George W. Bush. As well as weekly debates the Union organises speaker meetings with various famous and important individuals. While debates are the duty of the President, speaker meetings are the role of the Librarian to convene.
The Union is one of the strongest debating societies on the international circuit having held the World and European Debating titles for the past two years.