Once upon a time in the North East of England, petitions began for the formation of a university college in the city of York. With some irony local petitioners begged Parliament in 1647:

“As wee the inhabitants of the Northern parts of the Kingdome…have beene looked upon as rude & almost barbarous people…it will be a speciall meanes of washing from us the staine of Rudeness, & incivility”.

It was not until 1963 that plans for a university in the city of York came to fruition. The university developed on two sites, at King’s Manor in the city centre and around a dilapidated stately manor in the village of Heslington.

The York Union, founded in 2003, seeks to invite the good, the bad and the ugly in public life at large to address the University population. The society exists to provide a forum for debate with expert guest speakers, discussions and addresses.

The Greek philosopher Plato provides the York Union’s motto:

“Our discussion is about no ordinary matter, but on the right way to conduct our lives.”

The Society in 2009

Since its founding in 2003, the Society has constantly been expanding. Now gaining recognition and a reputation on the IV circuit in the UK, York hosted its first IV in 2009 and is now preparing for the second.

In 2008, the York Union Society changed its name to the York Debating Society to avoid forevermore confusion with the York University Students’ Union and the Conservative & Unionist Association, and just to be easier to find online and on Facebook. The Society also adopted a new logo: the White Rose of York.