University of Manitoba Students' Union

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

University of Manitoba Students' Union

Parallel form(s) of name

  • UMSU

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

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Description area

Dates of existence



The University of Manitoba Students' Union is the governing student organization of the university and acts as the students' representative in improving students' academic and campus life experiences. UMSU was founded in 1919 in order to represent the students as a united group. UMSU's early activities centred upon organizing social events and producing publications such as the University of Manitoba Phone Book (1920-1985; 1991-1992). However, as Canadian society changed and the importance of the University grew in relation to that society, UMSU's position in the University grew accordingly. By the 1960s, UMSU had begun to lobby for the creation of a students' union building and in 1970 UMSU's efforts came to fruition with the creation of the University Centre building on the Fort Garry Campus, with UMSU as a part owner.

In 1975, UMSU became one of the few students' organizations in North America to gain autonomy from the University Administration when it was incorporated by Provincial Statute. UMSU subsequently passed its own constitution and by-laws governing its operations. The 1970s and 1980s saw UMSU expand its on-campus services to students through the creation of several student-run businesses including a campus pub, print shop, restaurant and billiards hall. Unfortunately, by 1995, most of the UMSU businesses proved unprofitable and were closed down to or licensed to outside proprietors to prevent further losses.

However, though branching out into economic endeavors, UMSU remained committed to providing effective non-profit services to students such as operating a peer-advisor counseling service, a food bank for students, a radio station and a free on-campus art gallery. UMSU also puts on events such as Orientation, where new students are welcomed to campus, an annual Celebration week, where various speakers and events are offered to students free of charge, and assorted other activities that enrich student life at the University of Manitoba.

As UMSU is funded by mandatory student organization fees, upon paying their fees, students become full members of UMSU as well as paying contributors to the student council or their own faculty. The UMSU council, made up of elected representatives from each faculty, college and residence council, as well as the UMSU president and Vice-President, meets every two weeks during the school year (sporadically in the summer), to deal with major areas of concern within the Students' Union. Council also elects members to both standing and ad-hoc committees. Each sitting committee is then supposed to report to council once a month.

The UMSU Executive:

UMSU's day-to-day activities are run by five executive members. Each executive receives a salary, and though may take classes, considers his/her position to be the equivalent of a full time job. For the dates of this collection (1964-1995) the structure of the executive remained essentially the same.

The president is the elected leader of UMSU. Chief among the President's responsibilities is to represent students in all matters affecting their interests both on and off campus.

The Vice-President assists the President in the day-to-day activities of UMSU. The Vice-President serves as a liaison between students and administration in the event of academic or course difficulties. In addition to these responsibilities, the Vice-President also interacts with various student groups around campus and is the executive's representative on the University of Manitoba Senate.

The Director of Programming is appointed by council to coordinate all of UMSU's social events. These include concert series, films, political forums, lectures, socials, beer bashes, Orientation, Celebration and any other social event sponsored by UMSU. The Director of Programming is also responsible for allocating matching UMSU funds to councils or student group that mount their own social events.

The Director of Student Services was appointed by council to run many of the visible services offered by council. Book exchanges, off-campus typist listings, and telephone directories were the responsibilities of the director of student services. By 2002, the title of the position was changed to Director of Student Affairs.

The Director of Communications (DOC), also appointed, is essentially a public relations post. The DOC. ensures that the students know about all the decisions, programming, and services UMSU designs on their behalf. By 2002, the position's title had changed to Director of Public Relations.

Prior to1988, there was one more member of the executive, the Director of Administration (DOA). The DOA. was employed on a full time permanent basis, supervised all financial transactions, and provided a degree of continuity to an executive that faced yearly turnover. However, in 1988 the incumbent DOA. was terminated and the position ceased to exist. By 1995-1996, UMSU had recognized the need for a permanent administrator and created the position of Executive Director, who oversaw many of the same responsibilities of the former DOA.


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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by Scott Goodine (September 2002). Revised by N. Courrier (January 2020).




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