Pantycelyn has been home to Aberystwyth’s Welsh Students' Union UMCA since 1973.
Rhun Dafydd is the UMCA President for the 2016-17 academic year and here, he talks about the union’s objectives and shares some of his memories of living in the hall of residence when he was an undergraduate.
UMCA was established in 1973. It was set up specifically to safeguard the rights and interests of Welsh language students at the University and to campaign on their behalf. UMCA represents its members in terms of social, educational and linguistic issues. UMCA was born during a turbulent time in the Welsh language campaign. The establishment of such a union was a massive step in the language rights movement. UMCA has been at the heart of Welsh language development such as the campaign to establish the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. UMCA has become an influential organisation with a voice and representation on some of the University’s main boards, committees and meetings. On a social level, UMCA is responsible for organising entertainment for the University’s Welsh language community including the annual Rhyng-gol / Intercollegiate dance, a range of live gigs and several trips around Aberystwyth. UMCA members come from all corners and Wales and beyond, creating a unique community that thrives and evolves annually.
Arriving at Pantycelyn was like arriving in another world for me. I had been brought up in a Welsh-speaking home in southeast Wales but except for my education, there was not much Welsh to be heard, especially socially. I remember hearing about Pantycelyn before I arrived. The name was somehow part of my memory. The building became a sort of nirvana to me and I’m sure to many other people who lived in the hall. During the first week or two after moving in, I found it difficult to believe that there was such a completely Welsh community in the hall and such a passion for all things Welsh. I could live all aspects of my life through the medium of my first language, whether that was playing rugby for the Geltaidd team or relaxing in the communal lounge discussing every subject under the sun. At the time, it could be said that Pantycelyn was one of the most Welsh and most multicultural communities in the country. Pantycelyn was a close-knit community, which brought together over 200 friends there, for an experience not found anywhere else in the world. Yes, it was a Welsh community but with a global outlook and the discussions over meals in the canteen demonstrated that.