Generations of NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) executive committee members and volunteers gathered at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House on 23 August to reconnect with old friends and celebrate the Union’s 70th anniversary. Among the 240 guests in attendance were union volunteers from the 1970s, when NUSSU was known as the University of Singapore Students’ Union (USSU).
NUSSU traces its roots to its early predecessor, the University of Malaya Students’ Union (UMSU), which was established in 1949. UMSU then evolved into USSU, and took its present form as NUSSU in 1980, following the inception of NUS.
The histories of NUSSU, NUS and Singapore “have always been intertwined” said Guest-of-Honour Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs. The former president of the 2nd NUSSU Executive Council also reminisced about his time as an NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine student and student leader. “In life, you will always make new friends. And if you are successful or more connected there will be lots of people who will offer to be your new friends. But old friends cannot be made; old friends can only be lost. A very important reason for these reunions is to keep those old relationships alive,” mused Dr Balakrishnan.
Guests certainly took his advice to heart as they caught up with old friends and mingled, while enjoying performances from former NUSSU presidents, NUS alumni and students.
In his speech, NUSSU Alumni President and event organiser Mr Soh Yi Da shone a spotlight on one of the attendees — Mr Donald Wyatt. A former students’ union President, Mr Wyatt organised the first Rag & Flag raising funds for charity, which has become the Union’s flagship event.
Aside from doing its part for society, NUSSU also aims to deepen student engagement and improve student welfare. It does this through events such as the Student Life Fair and NUSSU Union Camp for freshmen, and the NUS Global Citizen Conference, as well as working closely with the University administration to resolve issues. Through the years, NUSSU has successfully lobbied for concessionary public transportation fares to be extended to university students, and for freezing of hikes in university tuition fees. Additionally, the NUSSU Students Fund, a subsidiary committee, assists needy students by distributing bursary awards and book grants.
As the evening ended, the guests had contributed over $113,000 to the NUSSU & NUSSU Alumni Bursary Fund (Endowed). The fund supports needy students with bursaries, each worth $2,250, through the NUS Office of Financial Aid, and has supported 10 students since its inception in 2016.