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A Potted History of the USU

In the beginning, a group of young men studying and teaching at Bunyip Oxbridge University found themselves entertaining a number of controversies, not the least of which was the radical proposition of allowing their institution to be open to the ladies. They fought and fought until it was decided that their fighting was interfering with their studies and preventing the free distribution of cheaply transcribed novellas and erotic lithographs within the colleges.

And so it was decreed, in the eighteen-hundred and seventy-fourth year of our Lord, that the young men would establish a debating society, to be known as the University of Sydney Union. Its name was an ingenious marketing attempt aimed at creating a sense of solidarity between the wealthy students and the embryonic Australian labour movement, as well as attracting students with the vague promise of strike action. The Union, or as it was called in later, less bolshy times, 'the USU', would seek to channel the argumentative energies of these young men in more productive ways than duelling, which was then still a common pastime.

But the Union required a premises, and adequate monies for the entertainment of its members; and so it was that the University gave it the Holme Building. And the members were so pleased with this, they occupied it four years before its completion. And the memory of this occupation would last eons after, especially in the 1970s.

And whilst these young men were being entertained, the University began admitting the ladies, despite the opposition of a Dr Cobbett of the School of Law, after whom a prize is still named. And these young ladies also wished to engage in controversy and be entertained, although by this time duelling had long passed from fashion, and in any case had been much taboo for that sex.

And so it was that the Sydney University Women's Union was formed in the nineteen-hundred and fourteenth year of our Lord. And as it too required a building, within three years a great house was established, and was called Manning House, and it became an Inn soon renowned as the greatest in all of Cumberland County.

And then, after the nineteen-hundred and sixtieth year of our Lord, the land was beset by calamity, and the men grew their hair long, and the women wore their garments short, and both the men and the women danced to the music of the devil. And after this time, the men and women decided they needed more room; and so they took all their gold and put it together, and the Wentworth Building was created; and still after this, beset by modern ideas, the two unions became one.

All was well. But then a plague of locusts descended upon the new Union, as the great Vizier of the Molonglo decreed that the minor Vizier of the University could not compel the students to join the Union; and it was feared that this would lead poker machines into the House of Manning, although they did not; and Union Recorder was changed, and a great Bull came into the land, and it was prolific, only to become less prolific over time; and it was decreed that a card be created as a shibboleth, to distinguish members from outsiders; and the food-makers were expelled from the houses of Manning, and Wentworth, and Holme, and new food-makers invited.

Through these ages, many a powerful man or woman passed through Manning, Wentworth, and Holme; Herb Evatt and Gough Whitlam and John Howard and Isabel Fidler and Edmund Barton and Michael Kirby and Mary Gaudron and Anna Donald and Adam Spencer and Malcolm Turnbull and Bernard Eldershaw and Margaret Telfer and Susan Ryan. And many a lesser man or woman passed through. And so did a man with the misfortune of being named Patrick Bateman, his parents unfamiliar with the tales of woe and destruction of another so named. And now, so do you.

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