By Pontus Dannberg
The student union, Medicinska Föreningen (MF) just turned 140 years but Karolinska Institutet (KI) has been around a bit longer. Founded in 1810 by then-reigning King Charles XIII on December 13, with the purpose of educating surgeons for the military, KI quickly grew larger. By 1861 it was given the right to give out degrees, standing as an equal to other universities. Around this time the student population’s desire for a movement or sense of unity was growing rapidly. Several attempts at creating a student society faltered, until the year 1877. The 21st of April 1877 will forever stand as a hallmark in KI’s history – the day MF, KI’s first student union, was founded. In the beginning, MF consisted of 83 students, led by its first president Oskar Medin.
For ten years, MF acted as a social platform for students to meet each other, and as a measure to influence the education at KI. After eleven years of existence, the Swedish University Chancellor officially acknowledged MF as a student union and membership was mandatory to receive a degree from KI in the years to follow.
36 years after its creation, MF found its first real home on Kungsholmen. Norr Mälarstrand 12 was the first permanent facility dedicated to MF and would remain so until KI moved in 1954. With its university moving, the student union saw no other choice than to follow and found their second permanent home, Nobels Väg 10 in Solna. Here we have remained, and the house has seen little change since the addition of the aula in 1985.
Over the years, MF has grown in numbers. From the initial 83 members to the peak of 7 000 members before the mandatory membership was scrapped in 2010. Since then the numbers have dropped to around 3 000 members as of today. Some increases have correlated with the growth of KI, for example when Hälsohögskolan, a university with several healthcare programs, fused with KI in 1998 and all healthcare educational programs came together under one university. Three years later, one of the student unions of Hälsohögskolan officially joined MF. When the physiotherapists’ student union also joined a few years later, MF was now home to all but the odontology students at KI.
MF has developed with time, but the active interest in the social life of the students has been consistent throughout the years. The committees organize everything from ski trips and student pubs to book club. Some committees even date back almost 100 years, such as the events committee. Other parts of Medicinska Föreningen are younger, like our male skit group, Spexet Corpus Karolina, which recently turned 40 years old.
The student influence exerted by MF has also been a constant since the acknowledgement from the Swedish University Chancellor back in 1888. Through representation in all of KI’s boards, MF has an impact on the education and research.
MF has always been, and always will be, run by the students, for the students. Just like in 1877, with Oskar Medin and his 83 compatriots, we hope that Medicinska Föreningen is, and will continue to be, a natural and welcoming place for all students to come together.