Clandestine meetings and secret votes culminate in an ousting of the old and a ringing in of the new.
Anyone awake at 1:30 this Tuesday morning and in the vicinity of St Salvator’s Chapel may have wondered why on earth the bells were ringing. Marking the start of a new chapter in the history of Kate Kennedy traditions, they were rung by students to declare the founding of a new and completely separate Kate Kennedy Fellowship, which with the support of the University should now be taking over the responsibilities and traditions from the currently existing Kate Kennedy Club.
I’m sure many people will remember the impassioned email students received almost three years ago, from the Principal herself, denouncing our University’s recognition of the Club; a club that “…from which so many of our students are excluded at birth”. Louise Richardson was of course referring to the fact that the Club is only open to male students of our university. The Club as we have come to know it was founded in 1926. Two students were inspired by a Rectorial address given by J.M. Barrie and the club was founded with the support of the then Principal James Irvine. It seems fitting now that the new Fellowship should be formed by two members of the Club who have broken away, fighting for their belief that women should be allowed to join the hallowed ranks of this charitable organisation.
Even after a vote of confidence from the University, the Students’ Representative Council, the Rector and the Kate Kennedy Procession Committee, the future is still uncertain for this new society. Officially, all responsibilities for the procession and the Opening and May Balls will now transfer to the Fellowship, but will the student body accept this new organisation? And, now that they are challenged by a fully supported and endorsed Fellowship, will the Kate Kennedy Club disband? The low opinion many have formed of the Club over the years will hopefully not overshadow those of the new Fellowship who fully denounce the sexist separatism employed by the Club.
In an impromptu press conference last night, which extended into the small hours of the morning, Fellowship Co-Founder Sunny Moodie, who sat with fellow Co-Founder Pat Mathewson, read out a message to students, hoping to inspire their acceptance of and their involvement with the new Fellowship. Albeit referring somewhat pointedly to the “gentlemen of the old Kate Kennedy Club”, they did extend to them an invitation to join the new Fellowship to “do something noble for themselves, the town and the University”. Speaking at the press conference, Mr Moodie stated that:
“The guardians of the Kate Kennedy tradition should be a unique and beautiful organisation that can breathe life into the traditions and the history of this town and this University. It should be comprised of people who believe in supporting Fife; where we live, the university; where we study, the town that we call our home and the students who we call our friends.”
In a humble move, both gentlemen have agreed that once the core Fellowship members have been elected, they will step down from their roles as interim leaders and allow the new members to select their president. The new Fellowship is to hold a drinks reception this Saturday evening to release the finer details of its intentions and constitution, and they would like to invite any and every student to attend, the location of which is still to be announced.
From today, we are all members of the Kate Kennedy Fellowship, unless of course you would like to opt out. I would ask, if you are rushing to remove your name from their members’ list, that you halt and think about what it is that they’re trying to achieve. Having broken over 85 years of sexism, these brave individuals have stood up for what they believe in and have challenged the authority of, let’s admit it, a rather powerful society. Halt and observe, see if they live up to their pronouncements. Give them a chance to change opinion and to improve Town and Gown relations (as we all know it is something to be improved). Our traditions define so many aspects of what it means to be a St Andrews student so let us rejoice in the dawning of a new day and support the men and women who will come to be fundamental in the upholding of these traditions.
Image credit – Ron Hann
The full statement from the Kate Kennedy Fellowship can be viewed, courtesy of Bubble TV, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBVC_VP_Nsk