Students fear the Glasgow University Union (GUU) could be lost under plans by the university to turn its social venue into a £9 million sports facility.
Since it was founded in 1885 the union has become famous for nurturing the debating skills of students such as Sir Menzies Campbell, John Smith, Donald Dewar and Andrew Neil.
Charles Kennedy, the current university rector, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber and former leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “It is vital that the university management work closely with GUU’s leaders to find a positive way forward, one which guarantees a viable GUU into the future alongside improved sporting facilities.”
Duncan Hamilton, a former MSP, said: “This is a total failure to appreciate that for many alumni the GUU was the most influential and important part of their university life.”
Graeme Pearson MSP, former director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, said it would be a diversion from the city’s drinking culture.
And Austin Lafferty, a Glasgow solicitor and vice-president of the Law Society of Scotland, who studied at Glasgow, said: “I respect the preference of many students then and now and think it important for them to have a club/institution of their own.
“I also appreciate the financial fallout of the university’s proposals if they go ahead. But I personally can’t get worked up about what I recall as a rather down-at-heel batcave.”