Our public debates and guest speakers continue to generate passionate student engagement, and our university and school debating competitions remain the largest and most prestigious in the country.
The Union has a host of famous former students, debaters and officers. From John Maynard Keynes and Ken Clarke MP to Arianna Huffington and Clare Balding, some of the great figures of our time had a crucial part of their Cambridge experience at the Union, and the society continues to produce many exceptionally successful professionals and politicians.
A debate is a formal argument between two or more opposing sides. Whilst most people only hear about debates when there’s an election, at The Cambridge Union we have been exercising the right to freedom of speech since 1815.
The Union has come a long way from its old fashioned origins as a private members’ club. With over half the student population of Cambridge holding life membership, the Society is now at the heart of the Cambridge experience. Debates and speaker events are held every Thursday at the Debate Chamber at The Cambridge Union – the Union is a hub of student activity in a University with no centralised Student Union building.
We currently host famous and interesting individuals from all over the world outside of our debates. These speakers range from politicians to Olympians and from business people to journalists. We host them for one purpose – so our members can meet them, question them, and challenge them on their views.
The highlight of the week is always our Thursday night debate. Every Thursday we invite some of the best speakers from across the world to debate a hot topic of the day alongside students. Students can either audition to deliver a paper speech alongside our guests, speak from the floor, or simply enjoy watching a fantastic night. Recent debate speakers have ranged from Cabinet Ministers to figures from the sex industry and topics have ranged from the future of the NHS to the limits of free speech.
After the debate, there is a chance to meet the speakers in the bar where you can enjoy the affordable food and drink we offer.
Credits: Flo Tawns
Credits: Tobia Nava
In addition to our debates, we hold keynote speaker events where students have the chance to question some of the World’s most famous and interesting figures.
There are normally about two of these events a week and we attract a hugely diverse range of speakers. From Robert de Nero to Ekin-Su, from Nancy Pelosi to Claudio Ranieri, there is always a speaker that will interest you. These events usually take the form of a short interview (which students can audition to do) followed by a Q&A with the audience. There is also often the chance to meet the speakers.
Union membership grants you exclusive access to these events.
Perhaps the highlight of each term is the Union Ball. We hold a Winter Ball, a Lent Ball, and a summer Garden Party which are some of the biggest and most affordable events inCambridge. With free-flowing drinks, the best food in Cambridge, live music, fairground attractions, and even ball pits, these are not events to miss. Union membership guarantees exclusive discounts to these events and makes them cheaper than any other comparable event in Cambridge.
In addition to our balls, we offer a range of weekly events. In recent terms, we have heldweekly Zumba classes, a Eurovision Partywith cheap cocktails, and a cheese-tasting night. These events are often free for members and offer a fantastic chance to socialise in a fun and welcoming environment.
The Union has come a long way from its old fashioned origins as a private members’ club where we are now have opportunities for the public to experience the life of a Cambridge student by watching the debates and guest speakers, as well dining in The Orator, newly refurbished union Bar and Restaurant (previously 1815 bar).
Hire event space, say ‘I do’ and get married in the historic chamber. Whatever you are looking for The Cambridge Union and The Orator can provide the perfect platform.
Manager – The Orator
Meet the rest of our team
Sales & Marketing Executive
Membership Secretary / Office Supervisor
Join Cambridge’s largest student society today for the opportunity to see world-class speakers and debaters as well as many other member benefits.
The Cambridge Union Society9a Bridge StreetCambridge CB2 1UBEngland
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