Student Union’s base structure originates from the time the Estonian students first started grouping together – primarly on the Estonian Students Society, founded on the year 1870.
Medicine student Josep H. Teinman (Estonian Students Society) was one of the first, who framed the idea of Student Union and also inspired others of it. Therefore the Student Union was created on the 17th of May 1920. This happened on the main hall of the University of Tartu with the cooperation of all students, with unanimous support. The meeting formed the Student Body’s Temporary Leadership, whose main goal was to represent all students in the University of Tartu and which was justified to speak and act for the students.
From there, the difference of nationalities was kept aside to create one unified association to represent all students in the University of Tartu (not only for Estonian students anymore). Student Body’s Temporary Leadership’s first chairman was Josep H. Teinman (Estonian Students Society), assistant-chairman: D. Treude (frat! Fr. Estica), first secretary: V. Luik.
Soon after the foundation, Student Body’s Temporary Leadership quickly found recognition and help from the government of University. The latter gave student body wide rooms to use, on the address of Liivi 4 (today’s School of Economics) – where many of the student workgroups, comitees and the Student Kitchen could start working.
On the 24th of November 1920 a concrete voting law was passed. It was aggreed on, that the 30-membered Student Representation will be voted, including all students in the University of Tartu, by universal, direct, secret, uniform and proportional election method.
On the 10th and 11th of December 1920 the first elections (using newly finished Voting Law) of Student Representation were held. The choice was made from 7 listings, with 857 students of 1507 eligible to vote, making it 57% of students in the University of Tartu that time.
The main responsibilities for Student Representation were to solve any financial issues regarding the organisation and to initiate cooperation with foreign student bodies. The main questions for students was the possibility of a student loan, together with the idea of creating health insurance fund inside the University.
During the Soviet occupation, Student Representation didn’t have actual possibility to influence student lives in any way, as it was seen (by Soviet repressors) as a socially hostile sighting of bourgeoisie and was therefore forbidden. In the 90s, when Estonia regain it’s independence, the student body was restored with the original name – Student Representation. Student Union of the University of Tartu got it’s current name and form through many reforms and structural changes. Today – Student Union brings together over 140 student representative.
To celebrate the 100 years of organised representation of students in the University of Tartu, Student Union organises series of discussion evenings and a big party on the 16th of May.
Facts from history compiled by UTSU100’s project manager is Kalle Valge