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The student centre or student union concept originated in the early 1800s when Cambridge (1815) and Oxford (1823) universities in Great Britain established the first “unions,” both initially taking the form of debate clubs or societies. The use of the term “union” arose from the intent of these societies to form a link and a degree of unity across the boundaries of the various college or facilities found on campus.

Unions surfaced around the turn of the twentieth century as an institution-run concept in the United States and in Canada, but they continued to develop as student-run organizations in both the United Kingdom and Australia.

Since then, in Canada, the operation of the student union has been seen by most institutions as, at least partly, the responsibility of student government - hence the term “Commonwealth model” that most unions or student centres operate under. Across Canada, similar to the mosaic that defines most of our culture, other models of governance of student union facilities (both the American or institution administered operation and the independently incorporated board model) are interwoven with the predominantly Commonwealth or student-run operations.

AMICCUS-C began as a loose network of General Managers employed by student associations in Canada who conceived of an annual gathering to share ideas and network.

The first conference was held in 1977 in Montreal, hosted by the Students’ Society of McGill University. This was a fitting forum as McGill was the first institution in Canada (1907) to build a facility specific in design for a student union!

Maintaining itself for over a decade with volunteer “hosts” for annual conferences, it wasn’t until June of 1989 at the University of Saskatchewan that delegates ratified a constitution and bylaws for the association. Leadership positions - all volunteer - were also formally established at that time.

 
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