10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know about the SU

March 2, 2017  |   Found in Editorial // Feature

When you think of the SU, one of three things probably comes to mind: BSD, Thursden, or the first time you saw those blue sunglasses at O-Week. As cool as those things are, there’s actually a lot more to the SU! Here are ten things you probably didn’t know about your Students’ Union.

The SU is older than the University of Calgary.

Formed in 1945 as a part of the University of Alberta’s Calgary Branch, the SU is now 75 years old. The Calgary Branch didn’t officially become the University of Calgary until 1966, making it 21 years younger than the SU.

The SU General Fee hasn’t increased in over 20 years.

The SU General Fee hasn’t been raised since 1995! In fact, the most recent change to the fee was a reduction in 2005 from $33.00 to $32.50 for full-time undergraduate students, which accounts for only 11% of SU revenue. For more on how the SU generates revenue for student services, visit our financial page.

The first BSD was an accidental marble tournament.

Back in the summer of 1960, a first-year student named Alan Arthur said people honked and hollered at him for wearing shorts. Apparently, in those days it wasn’t common for guys to wear shorts. To change this perception, Arthur wrote “April 1st is Bermuda Shorts Day” on a board used for announcements, the 60s equivalent of “U of C Confessions.” Clad in Bermuda shorts on that warm spring day, Arthur and his friends held marble tournaments and raced mattress’ down hills, accidently creating one of the oldest traditions at the University of Calgary.

Mayor Nenshi was an SU President.

SU Executives go on to do great things! Not only was Nenshi the SU President in 1993, but the Vice President External at the time, Chima Nkemdirim, is now his current Chief of Staff.

SLC meetings are held on Tuesday nights to accommodate religious diversity.

Before 1974, SLC meetings were held on Monday nights. However, since Mondays are considered Family Home Evening in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this wasn’t inclusive of Mormon students. Upon getting elected, a group of Mormon SLC members were able to successfully switch the meeting night to Tuesdays, and it has remained that way since.

The SU offers the most inexpensive student health and dental plan in Alberta.

Here at the U of C, students have access to a health and dental plan of similar coverage to the plans at peer institutions like MRU, NAIT, SAIT and U of A, but at a cost as much as $60 cheaper. Hopefully bargains like this one will make visits to the dentist slightly more bearable for you.

The SU has contributed almost 7 million dollars in scholarship funding to UCalgary students.

In 1969, the university President, A.W.R Carrothers, donated $200 to the SU to aid a student cause, a donation that became the SU’s first ever endowed financial reward. Since then, our list of awards and scholarships has grown to a $6,926,778 total fund contribution. Last year, over 50 students benefitted from the SU funded awards, which ranged from volunteer recognition to research funding. Visit our scholarships page for more information on student eligibility.

A Russian ballerina bequeathed her estate to the SU to aid a student cause.

Madam Olga Valda, a refugee of the Russian Revolution and an internationally known ballerina, spent several years at the U of C as a part time student. Madam Olga was an active SU volunteer and recipient of two SU Awards. When she died in 1973, she donated her estate to the SU, which was used to form the Committee of 10,000 as a tribute to her and the 10,000 students on campus at the time. The program continues to this day, giving away approximately $25,000 annually to charitable causes in Calgary.

The Black Lounge used to be known as the “Black Lung”.

In 2000, the Black Lounge was the only smoking lounge left on campus and was known as the “Black Lung.” This same year, a fire broke out in the lounge, causing the space to close for renovations until reopening in 2001 as a restaurant. The Den & Black Lounge may have lost its ironic nickname, but the amazing pizza and fries it has today definitely make up for it.

The SU has been sponsoring refugee students since 1986.

In 1986, the SU started supporting sponsored refugees seeking a university education. The SU sponsors two refugees each year from places like Kenya, Thailand, and Malawi in collaboration with World University Service Canada (WUSC) and the university. SU volunteers help orient the refugees to everyday Canadian life, introducing them to things like navigating a grocery store, and buying winter jackets.


Jessica is a second year Secondary Education/History student with a passion for crime shows and Kalamata olives. She used to enjoy a good book until university made her feel guilty for not reading something course related.