Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Oxford Union

The Oxford Union is one the multitude of societies available for Oxford students to join. In an earlier post I talked a little bit about it. It is a Union distinct from the University, and was founded in the mid nineteenth century when Oxford students were censored. Today, it is still a place open to opinions and student inquiries. Weekly, it holds a debate with international speakers. The Union also invites international guests to enlighten student audiences.

Last week the debate was titled "This House* would rather be unwell in Britain than in America". It was a fascinating heath care debate. I came to the conclusion that the two sides (those who prefer the British system and those who prefer the American system) were really comparing apples and oranges. Yes there is more technological innovation in a private system, but is heath care a universal right? It doesn't really work as a compound sentence. I came to the conclusion that I would rather have a chronic illness in Britain, but if I had a progressive disease that needed experimental treatment I would rather be in the U.S. I think my generation will be able to take the positives from both systems and combine them into real health care reform; that's my hope anyway.

Last Friday I saw the speaker of the House of Commons, John Barcrow, at the Union. It was cool to see him in person, and the question and answer portion was fabulous. He was very funny off the cuff. Also, the quality of audience questions was excellent. That's the best part about Union functions. One is surrounded by twenty-somethings who, as I do, care about current political and social issues; not just care but informed young people. Oxford is just a different kind of place; in a good way.

*"This House" refers to those present in the Union debating.

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