A student union refers to the umbrella association of students in ahigher institution of learning. It creates a forum for effective interaction among students. It is the government of the students with basically three arms of government namely; the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Student Unionism enhances the work of school authorities and facilitates effective communication between them and the students. Indeed, student unionism provides ample opportunities for leadership training for the youths.
Historically, student unionism began in 1925 with the emergence of West African Students' Union (WASU), pioneered by some Nigerian students in London. The first president was a Nigerian, Ladipo Solanke. With the establishment of the University College, Ibadan, in 1948, there were efforts to commence student unionism and extend its tentacles to other higher institutions. Efforts were made to form a joint platform for the Nigerian students. The idea later translated into action through the formation of the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) in 1956, with the late Ambassador Emmanuel Obe as its first National President. Essentially, student unionism during this period, was characterised by robust debates, diplomatic manoeuvres, active or passive resistance to the oppressive tendencies of the College or University Authorities. Indeed, those who were the vanguards of unionism then were highly articulate, intellectually inclined and very dogged. Even at the secondary school level, the features of student unionism were palpable. It would be recalled that students of King's College, Lagos, staged a violent demonstration in 1944 in response to the directive of the then British Government that the students should vacate their dormitories for the government to re-assign them to military formations and establishment. The second phase was the post-Independence era starting from 1961 when students protested against the decision of the Nigerian government to enter into Anglo-Nigeria Defence Pact with the British Government. The pact consisted of several articles among which were:
1) that the Governments of the Federation and the United Kingdom would assist each other as may be necessary for mutual defence; and
2) that they would consult each other on the measures to be taken jointly or separately to ensure fullest co-operation between them for this purpose.
Activities of Student Union
The Students' Union activities are aimed at providing the constitutional responsibilities of the union:
☛ The aims and objectives of the Union shall be:
1. To preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the Union.
2. To defend and uphold the interest and welfare of members of the Union
3. To promote and sustain academic excellence among members
4. To enhance staff-members and inter-faculty relationship
5. To provide a forum for the freedom of thought, expression, action and association.
6. To play an efficient and worthy role in National and International Association of Students' Unions.
7. To serve as a forum for training members for positive leadership role in the society
8. To create and promote social, political and cultural awareness amongst members.
In order to achieve its aims and objectives, so many activities are carried out every session. Some of the Students' Union activities are highlighted below:
☛ Academic and Career Talk
The Students' Union seeks to promote academic excellence amongst its members, and in furtherance of this objective, the Union organises events to provide academic support and career guidance. Events such as inter-faculty quiz, oratory contests and debate competitions among others are being organised every session among the students. The Students' Union in recent years also organises career talks, inspirational and motivational lectures among the students.
The Students' Union handles all matters relating to the general welfare of members of the Union and all the Union guests. In doing so, proper monitoring is put in place to control the prices of goods being sold on campus. There is a sanction for any shop owner that sells above the regulated price.
☛ Students' Media and Volunteer Groups
Information dissemination by the Students' Union is within the purview of the office of the Public Relations Officer, which also cuts across the various Faculties and Departments. The class/course reps, hall/hostel representatives are also engaged as information outlets to the entire student community.
This information channel has been enhanced due to the consistent publication of the Student Union Bulletins and placement of billboards in strategic places in the University. The Students' Union also makes use of the ISS-Media Studio to pass information across to its members and the larger society.
Some student clubs and societies serve as primary volunteers for information dissemination within and outside the University Community. They assist in creating awareness on students activities as most of these activities are published in various newspapers and online media in the country.
☛ Social Programmes
The Students' Union in conjunction with private bodies organises Annual Inter-faculty Dance Competitions, Talent Shows, Art work Displays, Carnivals, etc. All these activities promote social awareness and interaction.
Most of these events are scheduled to be organised in a single week called the "Students' Union Week". The week comprises various activities of the Union ranging from the academic, social, cultural to sporting activities.
☛ Sport Events
The Students' Union organises the female five-aside soccer championship that helps in the selection for the female soccer team for the University. The inter-faculty championship is also organised among male students. Furthermore, the Union has facilities and equipment that aid sporting activities on campus.
☛ Campaign and Elections
Every matriculated student has the right to vote and be voted for based on the eligibility criteria laid down in the Students' Union constitution and the Electoral Act. As part of its notable achievements, the union pioneered electronic voting system in 2013/2014 for the election of its executive.
☛ Orientation Programmes and Conferences
Orientation programmes are organised across various Faculties and Departments for the new students of the University. The Student Affairs Unit in conjunction with the Union also organises a general orientation and sensitisation programme for the newly admitted students. An orientation programme is an annual event aimed at sensitising the new students about the University rules and regulations and acquainting them with the vital organs of the University Academic, business and trade conferences or trade fairs are organised for students virtually every session.
☛ Rewards, Recognitions and Awards
Rewards and recognitions are duly given to societies, organisations and personalities who are have distinguished themselves. Personalities, organisations and staff of the University receive awards to appreciate their contributions to student life. Students are also celebrated annually by the Union as it organises the Students' Union Dinner towards the end of every session. Award nights are also organised at the faculty and departmental levels.
In conclusion, the Students' Union ensures that it provides academic support for the students. It also keeps the campus connected to the off-campus community through the off-campus outreach. The Union promotes and celebrates innovation, creativity and the Nigerian Culture.