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.

8 COMMENTS

  1. The quality of journalism in the Saint has always been something for St Andrews students to be proud of. However, I am dismayed by extremely poorly written article above. The amount of research appears to consist of a quick glance at the Kate Kennedy Club homepage and a chance encounter with a member of the club in a bar. Perhaps the journalist in question would like to extend their research slightly and come back with a properly drafted article that actually tells us something.

  2. I am sorry if you feel ‘dismayed’ by the article but in reality, I’m not a journalist- I am a science student. Also, I didn’t know people got ‘dismayed’ anymore. In future, to avoid possible feelings of ‘dismay’, stay at home wrapped in cotton wool.

    I don’t know why you are being so defensive as I was only having a bit of fun. In my opinion, the research I did was easily enough to throw up a few ideas. Surely one member of the club is representative of the whole?

    If you really want to put forward your argument properly, write an article in response to this one!

  3. just as the author is not a journalist, I am not one for commenting on websites, but i feel something should be said here. disclosure: I was an active member of the club between 2003-2007.

    many articles and arguments raised about the club’s male-only membership fail to acknowledge two major issues:

    1) members of any group have the freedom to associate as they please. there are plenty of other clubs and societies at the university with different constitutions and no entrance criteria

    2) more importantly, the club does not hold a monopoly on its aims. any student of the university is able to perform local charity work, uphold town/gown relations and traditions, and support the survival of the procession.

    remembering my time in the club, most people didn’t have a problem with the society itself – it was a small minority of “complainers”, who really would add more to the world if they actually were to contribute rather than simply criticize. no wonder graduate unemployment is growing…I guess commenting on websites and scrutinizing the behaviour of others, rather than getting out there and being active, is becoming too big a part of a student’s day.

    so in sum, to all st Andrews students: if you don’t agree with the club, vote with your feet – stay away from the balls and procession. But remember to do something else instead. and don’t worry if you forget to include me – you have that right.

  4. This is literally a sixth-form level of writing; being a science student is not an excuse for poorly written drabble with no research.

  5. The article seems fine to me for the level it was aiming at – a fun poke at the KK Club.
    More to the point – is it or is it not the case that 1. the Uni authorities recently cut official ties with/withdrew their blessing from the club (or whatever is the appropriate way to express what may have happened) and 2. applicants need to provide proof of personal wealth by providing bank statements? Maybe the latter is a nasty rumour? Just interested! Maybe you need to do more of that research right enough, Roger, a proper dissection!

  6. I don’t think it is a worrying to have an all-male club. If you did your research you would find other single sex clubs exist in St Andrews, such as the Pink Links; an all-female group of students participating in local charity work (ring a bell??). As long as co-ed clubs still exist, why not let people choose which they would like to be in?
    And have you not heard of a girl’s night out or a boy’s night in? From time to time people enjoy exclusively same sex company. I don’t understand how that is a problem for you?

    • Actually the Pink Links are open to include males as well, there is no selection process to become a member or get involved with the group’s work or committee. I think you must be confused with the Lumsden Club.

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