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SNEAK PEEK: What’s coming up at the Union Michaelmas 2019

Some exciting visitors to Cam!!!

A new academic year means a new Union Term Card, and with it a wide range of visitors to the prestigious Cambridge Union debating chamber.

As part of the open period, speakers range from Judge Judy, the US television personality to Ensaf Haidar, a Saudi Arabian human rights activist currently fighting for the release of her imprisoned husband.

The open period is a window for anyone to visit the Union; membership is not required. If you are considering purchasing a Union membership, this is a great opportunity for you to see what they have to offer.

Other visitors in this period include former Australian PM, Kevin Rudd AC and whistleblower Katherine Gun, who leaked Iraq war memos.

During the open period, but requiring Union membership is Bill Gates KBE, founder of Microsoft. He has been invited as the Stephen Hawking Fellowship lecturer, following on from Hawking himself in 2017 and Sir Jony Ive in 2018. There has been great demand for this event, with the Union running a ballot system for ticket allocation. There will also be tickets available on the door so if you would like to attend and hold a Union membership card, you may still be able to hear Gates speak.

Other celebrities visiting the Union this term include George Takei, known originally for his role as Sulu in the original Star Trek but has now become known for his humorous, pro LGBT+ Facebook page. Dua Lipa, known for hits such as New Rules and One Kiss, as well as NAO, the Brit and Mercury nominated singer are also visiting. Perhaps after Sigrid's mini concert last term in the chamber, they may follow suit?

The Union is however not just sticking to celebrities, and as usual they are hosting their fair share of political figures, as both speakers and debaters. Jorge Jrissati, a member of the Venezuelan opposition who has been described as one of the most influential young political leaders in the country will be speaking. Michelle Bachelet, the 7th UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is also talking, acting as a precursor for the visit of Ban-Ki Moon, ex UN Secretary General, in 2020.

As part of the Union's heritage as a debate society, weekly debates will also be held in the chamber on a range of topics, varying from globalisation to AI to abolishing private schools.

To kick off the debates, pro-remain campaigner Lord Andrew Adonis will be debating Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee for Conservative back bench MPs on This house has no confidence in her majesty's government".

Following the theme of current political issues, the Union is also hosting a debate on whether to nationalise Eton, an issue brought to the forefront by the Labour conference voting to ban private schools, at which Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday columnist, Robert Verkaik, author of "Posh Boys: how English Public Schools ruin Britain" and Dr Zoe Strimpel, who has written on the dating app exclusively for private school alumni.

The final debate on UK politics this term will be"This house would codify the UK constitution" at which barristers Helen Mountfield QC, Lord Anthony Grabiner QC and former senior judge The RT. Hon Jonathan Sumption will be debating.

Looking across the pond, the motion "This house believes the war on terror has made the world safer" will be debated, hosting Roger Parrino, NY state commissioner of homeland security, Sec. Jeh Johnson, previous Secretary of Homeland Security, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who has presided over Guantanamo cases and Judge Colleen McMahon, a Chief District Judge in New York.

Broader world trends will also be discussed, with Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox and former Labour MP Charles Clarke will be debating Globalisation, whilst Artificial intelligence will be debated by academics from Cambridge and Birmingham universities. As the final debates of term, "This house believes Identity politics is not progressive" and "This house believes men cannot be feminists" will be debated by speakers including Lily Madigan, the women's officer for Labour students and Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian LGBT+ activist.

Rachel Tustin, current President of the Union, commented that "there will be something for everyone" and it certainly seems so. The full term card can be found here.

Picture credit: ExecElect [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]