To Union or not to Union- that is the £150 question
Will you succumb to the incessant fresher group posting
The Union is exactly what everyone pictures Cambridge to be: grand, old, elitist and occasionally Stephen Fry might pop in. The prospect of being welcomed into Cambridge's most portentous and swanky society in all its leather seat and oak panelled glory is enticing, but is the hefty price tag really worth it?
Firstly, there are the debates. They are the thing that the Union is founded for and to give credit where credit is due, they do have cool people to discuss interesting topics. Isn't that what university is all about? Going to broaden your mind by listening to an ex-Cabinet member argue with a celebrity talk show host about the downfalls of Brexit?
The Union seems like the perfect way to justify to your friends why you chose to go to a University that only gives 3 days for fresher events while also filling the academic void left in you by the long summer. But when term starts and that first essay hits, dragging yourself out to The Union the hear a C-list celebrity describe their journey into music or listen to a debate about the threat of nuclear warfare may not be the highest on your priority list.
There is also the Freshers' Ball to think about. The Union offer entry to a ballot of Freshers' Ball tickets along with life membership and what is more exciting than the chance to dress up in black tie and party with all your new pals. However, considering that a couple of years ago life membership got you definite entry to the ball, this seems like a bit of a bad deal if even after paying all those £££ there is still a chance you might not get a ticket. For those who gets tickets though, the ball is guaranteed to be a good night. With free flowing food and drink, you can dance the night away to the live bands and go get glitter painted on your happy fresher face.
However, unlike the balls you will attend in May Week with your actual friends, you are still at the stage where you need to stop yourself from getting too drunk and running around with your skirt over your head. Or sleeping with someone that you will definitely regret for the next 3 years. These people are still practically strangers, and while going to a ball is a fun bonding experience, so is going to get a £5 pizza at Strada for a thirtieth of the price.
Of course, if you are into debating then The Union is an incredible outlet and membership is an investment. The Union is especially made worth it if you have aspirations to join the committee. Not only will you get great CV points but it is a rare chance to work at such a young age in such a big budget organisation.
It is also a good way to perk up a difficult term by smugly walking into front row at Bernie Sanders knowing that your friends are crammed into the overflow room having queued up since 5am that morning. You will also have great name dropping potential when you go back home when get to tell a story about something funny that Ian McKellen happened to say to you while you were sitting next to him at a Union dinner.
Ultimately, the Union is great if you are going to get stuck in and enthusiastic about all the debates or if you have political aspirations then it is a useful method of hacking your way up the slippery pole to the top.
However, unless you have a burgeoning passion for free debate or power then maybe it would be wiser to save your money so you can waste it on jaeger bombs at Cindies instead.