Roger Bryant dissects a charity
Two weeks into the new semester, and most freshers will no doubt have run into one of the red-tracksuit-topped members of the Kate Kennedy Club. Admittedly most of these meetings will have been outside the union with the Club members selling tickets for their infamous Opening Ball. But who are these mysterious people?
Well, their website states that “The Kate Kennedy Club exists to preserve the Kate Kennedy Procession…maintain the traditions of the University and town of St. Andrews…uphold and improve Town and Gown relations and raise money for local charities”
So, that’s sorted then. The Club is essentially a nice bunch of people who do their best to keep St Andrews how it always has been, and why not? The ‘bubble’ has a reputation for being one of the most traditional, prestigious and exciting places to study. It is also admirable that the Kate Kennedy Club does so much for local charities, as this is done alongside the members’ studies and must be time-consuming. However, when one ‘reads the small print’, so to speak, it becomes clear that there are less honourable aspects of the club.
According to the website “The number of members cannot exceed sixty and only male matriculated students of St Andrews University are eligible to apply for membership”
Two things are immediately striking. Firstly, from a student population of over eight-thousand, sixty seems like a tiny proportion. It is strange that what is essentially a charitable organisation finds it necessary to limit its numbers. I’m no economist but I feel suitably qualified to state that ‘more members equals more money for charity’ and ‘many hands make light work’.
Secondly, it is worrying that all-male societies still exist in a developed country such as this one. The idea that women shouldn’t be allowed to even apply could be said to be somewhat antiquated and even unfair. I wont be joining the feminist society anytime soon, but surely women would be equally able to ‘maintain traditions’, ‘uphold relations’ and ‘raise money for local charities’?
Having barely scratched the surface of the Kate Kennedy Club, we’ve already encountered some controversial issues. When one begins to dig deeper, a torrent of secrecy and elitism begins to emerge. Just recently, a group of friends and I were paying a visit to a respectable Alexandra Place establishment when we were approached by a blood-red-clad member. As we slouched on low sofas, he perched on a high stool above us and began to preach. The urge to externally compare this encounter to the former Prime Minister’s public bonding sessions was great, yet the fear of being labelled a ‘bigoted woman’ prevented this. Being male, this was of course ridiculous.
There is rumoured to be a rigorous selection process for the Kate Kennedy Club but mention of this brought an unusual reaction for a charity contributor.
It was unexpected that he’d have anything to hide but he immediately looked shifty and uncomfortable. Had he already assessed and deemed us unsuitable for the Club? Whether this was based upon our accents, our attire or our inquisition is debateable. But mumbling ‘They’re all rumours, I promise you’, he beat a hasty retreat, heading for some unsuspecting chino-wearers.
What this man failed to tell us, Google made up for. “The Club admits nine bejants each year, after a series of interviews”. If it was strange that this Kate Kennedy Club representative had come in to talk to us about the club’s opening ball, it was utterly bizarre that he then disclosed so little about their charity work.
Admittedly, there is a certain romantic appeal to a selection process for a club of such distinction as this one. The feeling of having been chosen as one of only nine lucky ‘yellow-beaked’ guys must be something akin to being chosen as Alan Sugar’s apprentice. One would surely be eager to get their beak dirty as fast as possible or weather-permitting engage in a light spot of charity.
One might be tempted to set up a club to rival the KKC, with less wine and more women. Unfortunately, that would be a little too time-consuming and so, with slight regret, the club will simply be left to their mysterious ways.
The opening ball sounds quite good, actually.