Warwick: 50 years on
Through being a student ambassador for Warwick Welcome Service you get to work some really interesting jobs; with the job I worked yesterday afternoon being the perfect example! It involved giving a campus tour to the 1966 intake alumni of the university and their guests, and it was fascinating to hear how the university has changed since they were students.
When the first students began to study at the university, campus was made up of two areas; main campus, where the library, library bridge and Molecular Sciences was, and the East Site (now Gibbet Hill) where there were other buildings including the Maths Department. Apart from a long path connecting the East Site with the library, that was all there was! The library looked like it was in the middle of a field, and was almost unrecognisable as it was not surrounded by humanities and social sciences. Rootes was still being built, so many students lived in university owned houses in Leamington and Coventry, or with families in Kenilworth. Listening to the alumni recount their stories was so interesting, as the university seemed like a different world to what it is now, but was also very familiar.
Current students will be pleased to know that the red sculpture behind the SU in Rootes was there in the early days, but started off as concrete-looking, not the shiny red piece of art we know and love today. Early students took pictures on it too; I saw a photograph of a group wearing graduation robes lounging on the sculpture. On another picture, there was some graffiti scrawled on the side of the sculpture reading “UNION BUILDING NOW”, since, as one alumnus explained to me, students felt like the university were not prioritising a Student Union building and so they were protesting to make this happen. I also spoke to other students who set up some of the first societies.
What struck me the most though was how dynamic the university was. One alumnus told me that one of the reasons she came to the university in 1966 was because it was exciting. It was a brand new university, with big hopes and dreams to do ground breaking research and be a new environment for people to study and learn and develop. Fifty years on, I think that sentiment still holds true. Campus is an exciting place to study, with a diverse range of students, passionate lecturers and researchers who are at the forefront of their relevant fields, and we are encouraged to fully participate in university life by joining societies and sports clubs and volunteering. Looking at all the development that has happened since the first students were here, I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next 50 years.