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. <strong>Are you interested in running a for a position? Current Board of Director position descriptions are available here: Board of Directors Position Descriptions.
The idea of an organization such as AMICCUS-C has been around since about 1977. The organization then was know as “AMCUSO” (Association of Managers in Canadian University Student Organizations).
AMCUSO was a loose organization with little structure whose members would meet once a year in a national forum to discuss the issues of the day. A focus of the gathering was just not to meet and work, but to relive the past year amongst colleagues with similar issues. You could say it was a time and place to be amongst friends who know what the profession entails. Past conference sites are listed on the attached page. Conference sites prior to 1987 at the University of Guelph come from a list printed in the AMICCUS-C Newsletter, December 1, 1987, since Guelph the cities and schools are accurate.
At the Guelph conference it was decided to discuss the future of AMCUSO. The membership at the time agreed to the name change of AMICUS-C and to develop a proper constitution, which appeared in the AMICUS-C Newsletter of December 1, 1987 (attached). One main area of concern during the discussion on the future was to maintain informality amongst the members to ensure the longstanding desire to meet and rekindle old friendships, make new ones and take a moment to recharge the batteries. The conference was still to maintain this avenue, while the organization took on a more formal structure.
At one annual general meeting it was decided to alter the name of AMICUS-C to that of AMICCUS-C, which took into account the inclusion of the word “College”. Also, as time progressed the AMICCUS-C structure was revamped to move from three regional representatives (total) to an executive of a President, a regional representative from the East, Central, West and a Member at Large. The constitution has evolved into a more formal document with the inclusion of By-laws.
Since its inception as AMCUSO, the organization has striven to meet the needs of full time professional staff within the student government/student centre movement within Canada. The organization still maintains its’ social aspect of the annual conference so that new members could feel welcome and comfortable amongst others in their field. The professional growth of the organization has evolved from just national conferences to regional ones. Sessions at both the national and regional level have improved immensely and cover a broad range of topics.
One can never forget the pioneers who have gotten this professional organization to where it is now. Naming all that were involved would be immense, and the idea of forgetting just one name would be an insult to all. The Presidents of the organization since Guelph have helped shape the AMICCUS-C vision. To name these individuals would be appropriate. They volunteered their time to see growth and advancement in the profession. Past Presidents have been W.D. (Bill) Smith, Steven Gaetz, Mary Lou Thibert, Guy Brisebois, Louis Chan, Mike McMahon and Ian Morrison. Even though the Presidents have been named, as mentioned above, it would be impossible to mention all names for fear of missing just that one. It should be noted that all members contributed to the growth of AMICCUS-C in their own way.
Over the course of development, AMICCUS-C has improved in the delivery of educational and professional sessions. In the early days, delegate numbers were small and sessions revolved around group round table discussions. Presently the sessions developed into group and concurrent programs that meet the growing and diversified attending delegates. With a mixture of long attending delegates and the ever-growing newcomer, the organization looks to meet all facets of its membership.
AMICCUS-C recently has taken a greater role in looking beyond the Canadian border. At two conferences (Halifax ’94 and Windsor ’96) we saw that attendance of delegates from the United Kingdom. We are also seeing the annual attendance of an executive member from the Association of College Unions International. This type of growth enhances the AMICCUS-C experience.
AMICCUS-C has provided the professional growth side of the industry...but members felt a need to explore business opportunities. AMICCUS-C members moved forward to create the Canadian Campus Business Consortium. Both groups are the same people, but with different objectives. Each is benefiting from the other.
The history of AMICCUS-C has grown and will continue to grow as we meet the new challenges and experiences that greet the organization each year.