Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) will become Oxford SU in the first major rebranding exercise of its kind since the creation of the student union in its current form in 1974.
Not to be confused with the Oxford Union debating society, OUSU has served as a forum for collaboration between JCRs and MCRs and for student activism more generally, though it has long lacked its own cafe or bar, unlike student unions at other universities its own café or bar.
Following a year of research, however, a new look and a new name for OUSU was developed in conjunction with Spy Studio, a London-based design firm. Oxford SU, as the union will now be known, will accompany a comprehensive new website in September. A “modern, approachable brand”, finding an image “which improved [the union’s] connection with every student” was cited as the key objective of the redesign.
The student union will also move offices in time for the new academic year, moving across the street from 2 Worcester St to larger premises at 4 Worcester St.
OUSU, which last year had a student satisfaction rate of 34%, was founded in 1961 as the Oxford University Student Representative Council after University authorities attempted to ban The Isis (a sister publication of Cherwell) from publishing reviews of lectures.
— Oxford SU ?️? (@OxfordStudents) August 16, 2017
As former VP Eden Bailey told Cherwell, however, much of OUSU’s work happened behind the scenes: “A huge challenge we face is that not many people realise that a number of the great things that common rooms do offer are facilitated by OUSU, from discount contraceptives to developing papers and other resources to lobby Colleges on important issues.”
A new focus on the student union’s visibility amongst students began earlier this year, with the launch of an OUSU-run club night at Plush, a new Springtide festival, and an anti-stress “Thoughtless Moments” campaign.
In a tweet, the OUSU VP for Graduates, Marianne Melsen, praised the new design.
New name, new logo, new website coming soon – but we're still here to improve your student experience ??️? https://t.co/PFkR5adYEW
— Neil Misra (@OxfordVPGrads) August 16, 2017
Not all felt positively about the rebranding, however. Former President of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats and New College classicist, Harry Samuels, was concerned with the cost.
He told Cherwell: “Similar rebrands at other universities have cost tens of thousands of pounds of students’ money, with normally the same effect – a silly looking logo that weakens the organisation’s brand.
“OUSU need to explain how much this is costing, what was so bad about the previous logo that meant they had to change it, and whether it will be finally voted upon by students.”
Oxford SU will launch its new website with support resources, a clubs and societies directory, and an events calendar in September.
Oxford SU was contacted for comment.