The History of the Commerce Undergraduate Society
Before the CUS
The first precursor to the Commerce Undergraduate Society was formed in 1932. Students of Commerce in the Faculty of Arts formed a student club under the wing of the UBC Alma Mater Society, called the Commerce Club. Interest in the club dwindled by 1936, and the club was disbanded due to lack of interest. However, the creation of the Department of Commerce in 1939, and the subsequent split from the Department of Economics in 1940, led to renewed interest. In 1940, Commerce students elected Ernest C. Harvey as class president. Harvey would later on become retroactively known as the first CUS president.
A more robust, but still unofficial, student government formed shortly after, with a group of students forming the Commerce Executives under Commerce president Jack Moxon. The next year in 1942, president Hugh Hall reformed the Commerce Club, bringing the group under the wing of the AMS once again. The club thrived, and after two years of negotiations and effort, the Commerce Undergraduate Society was officially formed on October 10th, 1944. Stuart Porteous, and outspoken and involved student leader, would become the first president of the CUS.
The Early Years
Working with Commerce department head Ellis H. Morrow, the CUS quickly gained legitimacy, hosting popular events and launching campus-wide initiatives. The Commerce Undergraduate Society Banquet became the organization’s flagship annual event, hosting thousands of attendees at the Hotel Vancouver downtown. By 1947, the CUS, the Arts Undergraduate Society, and the Pre-Med Undergraduate Society, received stewardship of several of the war huts behind Brock Hall, unused since the end of the war, to serve as their offices.
The CUS initiated many longstanding traditions in the following years, first publishing the Ledger Magazine (precursor to the Cavalier newspaper) and the Balance Sheet Newsletter (precursor to the CUSunday) in the 1950’s. With the enthusiastic support of the Dean, POITS (the CUS’ beer garden) was founded in the 1960’s.
A Modern CUS
By the 1970’s, costs of running the society were increasing, and a referendum was held to raise a $2.00/year student fee. The referendum garnered 83% approval, and the student fee was successfully levied. The 1990’s were a decade of fee increases, seeing the student fee raised from $2.00 to $6.00 to $266.00 over the course of ten years.
With the money raised from the student fees, the turn of the millennium brought about many notable events still recognizable today. Me Inc, Imprint, Enterprize, and many other conferences were first launched, and president Jeff Potter successfully brought the Jeux de Commerce, an Eastern inter-university case competition, out to Western Canada, with the West Coast competition becoming JDC West. The composition of the CUS changed drastically as well, with the implementation of a constitution and a code of procedures to set out our goals, visions, and practices.
Throughout its lengthy history, the CUS has seen ups and downs. From getting sued in student court to launching Western Canada’s largest case competition, we’ve accomplished much since 1944. All this has been made possible through the selfless contributions of our student volunteers and leaders, and what we accomplish from here on out is up to you to decide.