Edinburgh University Students' Association

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Edinburgh University Students' Association
Logo of the Edinburgh University Students' Association
Motto by students, for students
Institution University of Edinburgh
Location Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Established 1884 (SRC)
President Briana Pegado[1]
Other sabbatical officers

Eve Livingston (Vice-President Societies and Activities)[2]

Tasha Boardman (Vice-President Services)[3]

Dash Sekhar (Vice-President Academic Affairs)[4]
Members c. 30,000 total
Affiliations National Union of Students, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, National Postgraduate Committee, United Kingdom Council for Overseas Student Affairs, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council, Association for Managers in Students' Unions, Child Poverty Action Group, The Work Foundation, Aldwych Group, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Friends of Birzeit University, Abortion Rights UK, Edinburgh Student Forum, Votes at 16 [5]
Turnover and Pint Count £9.8m (2011/12) and 244,993 pints.[6]
Website www.eusa.ed.ac.uk

Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) is an autonomous, student-led campaigning, membership organisation providing services, representation and welfare support at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.[7]

Organisational History[edit]

EUSA is the oldest students' union in the UK,[8] originally founded as the Students' Representative Council (SRC) in 1884 by student Robert Fitzroy Bell.[9] Shortly afterwards the SRC voted to fundraise and establish a union building, the Edinburgh University Union (EUU), now known as Teviot Row House. The Edinburgh University Women's Union was founded in 1906, becoming the Chambers Street Union in 1964.

On 1 July 1973 the SRC, the EUU, and the Chambers Street Union merged to form Edinburgh University Students' Association.[10]

In 1976 EUSA disaffiliated from the National Union of Students (NUS).[11]

In 1994 the University forced the merger of the King's Buildings Union and EUSA, despite the KB Union voting against the proposal.[12]

In 2004 EUSA affiliated to the National Union of Students (NUS).[13]

In 2005 EUSA formally twinned with Birzeit University Student Council, West Bank, with each union annually hosting delegations from the other.[14][15]

In 2013, the association was criticised after acting using the Court of Session to "censor" The Student as it "was due to publish details of the suspension of Max Crema, vice-president of services at the union." President James McAsh defended the action, claiming it was taken "to protect the rights of our employees." [16][17][18]


Following a student consultation process and plebiscite a new constitution was established in 2012. Democracy is provided through an open Student Council (the SRC) supported by three topical Standing Committees namely the Academic Committee, External Affairs Committee, and Welfare Committee. There is also a Societies Council which makes decisions relating specifically to student societies. Alongside these are a series of open, autonomous liberation groups (Black Minority and Ethnic, Disability and Mental Wellbeing, LGBT, and Women) and student section groups (International, Mature and Postgraduate). Decisions about the running of union buildings and services are made by the elected Trading Committee, with direct input from the SRC and four student stakeholder groups (Bars, Catering, Entertainment and Retail). Elected representatives also sit on all major University bodies and subcommittees. Complementing these structures are autonomous school councils and a class representation system providing local, democratic spaces for organising. This organisational structure was designed to help foster a system of participatory democracy throughout the University.[19]

Ultimate responsibility for the organisation's finances, legal well-being, employment of the chief executive and strategic oversight is held by an elected student board of trustees. The organisation's senior management team directly reports to and are held accountable by this body.

EUSA is a democratic membership organisation, a charitable body and a company limited by guarantee. EUSA also has complete ownership and control over a subsidiary company, EUSACO, incorporating any activity which is outside of EUSA's charitable remit, such as Edinburgh Festival and external catering activities.[20]


The Pleasance union, home to numerous societies

EUSA supports and oversees over 240 official student societies which provide a range of activities, events and opportunities across the student body.[21] The union also directly organises regular and seasonal events such as Freshers' Week, club nights, pub quizzes, band nights, comedy, and the Graduation Ball.

Notable societies[edit]



  • The Student, award winning student newspaper
  • The Journal, largest independent student newspaper in Scotland
  • Fresh Air, award winning student radio station
  • Edinburgh Movie Production Society (EMPS)
  • Edinburgh Film Society



Campaigning & Political[edit]

  • People & Planet: A long running society, linked to the national network, who have been responsible for some notable campaigns and changes in Edinburgh, including EUSA, and then the university, gaining fairtrade status.


Edinburgh students protest in London against fee rises.

Recent campaigns have included demanding Equal Marriage,[22] fighting tuition fee rises and education cuts,[23] and organising for better private tenancy rights;[24] alongside smaller campaigns such as demanding free transport across the University,[25] opposing on-campus day care closures and pushing for a complete overhaul of the University's student support structure.[26]

EUSA, in partnership with the University, was instrumental in making Edinburgh University Scotland's first Fairtrade University in 2004, and played a significant role in the growth of fair trade in Scotland.[27][28][29][30]

In 2007 in an unprecedented move following several years of pressure from EUSA, the University Senate revoked Robert Mugabe's honorary degree that had been awarded in 1984 "for services to education in Africa".[31]

The Association hit headlines in 2013 after banning Robin Thicke's successful song Blurred Lines from being played in Union venues. The song was deemed to promote "an unhealthy attitude towards sex and consent", and for being in breach of EUSA's 'End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus' policy, designed to tackle 'myths and stereotypes around sexual violence' and stop the sexual objectification of female students.[32][33]

Sabbatical Officers[edit]

The Association's day-to-day student leadership is provided by a team of four full-time elected students, known colloquially as 'sabbs'. Currently these positions comprise a President responsible for the overall functioning and external politics of the association; a Vice President Societies and Activities (VPSA) responsible for activities in relation to recognised student groups and representation to the University on non-academic service provision; a Vice President Academic Affairs (VPAA), responsible for representing students to the University and beyond on academic matters; and a Vice President Services (VPS) responsible for the running of the Union buildings, and financial affairs of the Association.

The sabbatical officers are elected by an all student ballot held every March on MyEd, the University's intranet system.

EUSA union buildings and outlets[edit]

Teviot Row House

EUSA operates 13 bars, 7 catering outlets, 5 shops, a catering company (Honours) and numerous other services located across ten sites: [21]

  • Teviot Row House, Bristo Square – the largest of the union buildings and the oldest purpose built student union building in the world. Teviot contains six bars, a small nightclub and a variety of meeting rooms and halls. Following a fire at their Grassmarket venue, Teviot is now Gilded Balloon's primary base during the Edinburgh Fringe.
  • Potterrow Mandela Centre, Bristo Square – with its distinctive dome, this building includes two shops, two cafes, a 1200 capacity nightclub, the Societies, Charities and Volunteering centre - collectively known as EUSA Connect - and a student support centre, The Advice Place. It is also home to the organisation's main administrative offices, reception and box office.
  • King's Buildings House – on the main science / engineering campus in the south of the city, includes bars, food outlets, a shop, sports facilities and an Advice Place.
  • Pleasance – Provides societies at the University of Edinburgh with meeting space during semesters. Also a popular venue for the annual Edinburgh Fringe during the month of August. Containing two bars during term time and a fully functional 300 person theatre that plays host to screenings every Tuesday night. Is also located next to the newly refurbished (2005) Centre for Sport and Exercise gym.
  • Magnet Café, James Clerk Maxwell Building - a small cafe on the Kings Buildings campus.
  • The Shop, also on the Kings Buildings campus.
  • Pollock Shop, a late opening shop in Pollock Halls.
  • Rainy Hall, café outlet at New College.
  • DHT Shop, a small shop located at the base of David Hume Tower, closed for extensive refubishment work.

Association Committees[edit]

Board of Trustees[edit]

Ultimate responsibility for the associations's finances, legal well-being, employment of the chief executive and strategic oversight is held by an elected student board of trustees.

Sabbatical Trustees Student Trustees (elected) External Trustees (appointed)
Briana Pegado (President, Chair) Jeannie-Hyslop Parsons Melissa Highton
Dash Sekhar (VPAA) Hona-Luisa Cohen-Fuentes Douglas Blackstock
Eve Livingston (VPSA) Aurora Adams Stewart Goldberg
Tasha Boardman (VPS) Lucy Eskell

Trading Committee[edit]

Responsibility for the commercial services of the organisation are delegated by the Trustee Board to the Trading Committee. As the direct descendent of Edinburgh University Union's Committee of Management, the committee dates back to 1889.

Trustees Student Members (elected) Non-Student Members (appointed)
Kirsty Haigh (VPS, Chair) Declan Sheridan Ewan Hawthorn
Nadia Mehdi (VPSA) Niall T O’Coinleain Sue Diamond
Morgan Reilly
Nathan Bower-Bir

Notable people[edit]

This is an incomplete list of notable former office bearers, staff and others with EUSA and its predecessor unions.



  1. ^ "EUSA President". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "EUSA Vice President Societies & Activities". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "EUSA Vice President Services". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "EUSA Vice President Academic Affairs". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Boycotts and Affiliations". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Finances". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  7. ^ http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/about/
  8. ^ Denton, edited by Steve; Brown, Sally (2009). A Practical Guide to University and College Management Beyond Bureaucracy. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis. p. 86. ISBN 9780203874554. 
  9. ^ Wintersgill, Donald. "Bell, Robert Fitzroy (1859–1908)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  10. ^ Catto, Iain (1989). 'No spirits and precious few women' - Edinburgh University Union - 1889-1989. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Union. p. 120. 
  11. ^ Tom, McConnell (5 February 1979). "Court move against student in union referendum tussle". The Glasgow Herald. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Graeme (2 June 1994). "Students Protest at Merger Decision - Edinburgh University". The Scotsman. 
  13. ^ University of Edinburgh Journal. 42-43: 77. 2005. 
  14. ^ "Visit to Birzeit University from Edinburgh University Student Association". Birzeit University. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  15. ^ "Right to Education/Birzeit Twinning EUSA resolution". Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "EUSA hits back in Student newspaper censorship furore". The Journal. February 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  17. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/07/edinburgh-the-student-paper-gagged-union-legal-row_n_2636945.html
  18. ^ http://www.journal-online.co.uk/article/10094-editorial-i-may-not-like-what-you-say
  19. ^ "Governance". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Memorandum Articles of Association". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  21. ^ a b "Finances". Edinburgh University Stduents' Association. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  22. ^ "Student fury at gay marriage petition names". Edinburgh Evening News. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  23. ^ "Students march to protest education cuts and tuition fee increases". EUSA. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  24. ^ "Students' association launches campaign to protect tenants". Scottish Television. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  25. ^ "Students achieve success in campaign for free transport". STV News. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  26. ^ "Edinburgh University to replace DoS system". The Journal. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  27. ^ "Fairtrade and the University of Edinburgh". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  28. ^ Ballard, Mark. "Motion S2M-05639: Mark Ballard, Lothians, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 22/02/2007 Fairtrade Fortnight 2007". The Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  29. ^ Stephen Sterling, Larch Maxey, Heather Luna, ed. (2013). "9". The Sustainable University: Progress and prospects. Routledge. ISBN 9781136236938. 
  30. ^ Lamb, Harriet (2008). Fighting the banana wars and other fairtrade battles. London: Rider. p. 197. ISBN 1846040833. 
  31. ^ "Mugabe stripped of degree honour". BBC News. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "University of Edinburgh bans Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' from playing on campus". The Independent. 12 September 2013. 
  33. ^ "Blurred Lines song banned at Edinburgh students' union". BBC News. 12 September 2013. 

External links[edit]