On Thursday 22 March, the Kate Kennedy Club announced that it had passed a motion to allow female students to apply to be members of the Club. The Saint has endeavoured to draw together the events leading up to this point so that comprehensive analysis and an overall picture can be drawn.
We return, once again, to the events of the night of Monday 20 March. After an emergency SRC meeting and an ‘open forum’ (in their own words) of the Kate Kennedy Club, Pat Mathewson and Sunny Moodie gave a statement to the assembled student media in which they confirmed the creation of a Kate Kennedy Fellowship, which had the backing of the University, new Rector Alistair Moffat, Students’ Association and – apparently – members of the Kate Kennedy Trust and Procession Committee.
The split within the Kate Kennedy Club came about because Mathewson and Moodie believed the Club could not achieve its potential while its doors were closed to women. The split received national media and political attention.
The Saint has seen a copy of the Kate Kennedy Club Constitution, which clearly states that “Only men are eligible to become Club Members. Any Club Member or Life Member proposing to the contrary shall cease to be a member”. This is further emphasised, in the same section, by “Resignation from the Club is achieved by proposing female membership”. This is in line with what Mathewson and Moodie told The Saint in an interview last month, although spokespeople for the Club dismissed those claims, stressing that that meeting was an ‘open forum’, to which Alistair Moffat was invited.
As terms of the Club Constitution, they will now have to be rewritten, along with all references to the male-only nature of the Club.
The Kate Kennedy Trust
The change in the admissions policy is believed to be the direct result of a meeting of the Kate Kennedy Trust on Tuesday 13 March. The Saint received a statement detailing membership of the Trust, and has explored the significance of this.
The Kate Kennedy Trust was set up and recognised as a Scottish charity in 1997. Its purpose, as stated in a Trust press release of 23 February 2012, is to be “the legal owner of all the costumes and coaches that are used in the Kate Kennedy Procession, and is responsible for their upkeep and proper storage”. The Trust, in working with the Club and Procession Committee, ensures the Procession takes place on an annual basis.
The current Trust structure, as detailed in the same press release, is 12 Trustees, including six ex officio Trustees, who are current members of the Club. Those are the President of the Club, Keeper of Costumes, Keeper of Coaches, Marshal of the Procession, Treasurer and Life Members Convenor. The remaining six places on the Trust are made up of individual Trustees, who hold office for five years but may be reappointed for a further term. These are, as of 23 February 2012, “Dr Frank Quinault, Mr John Matthews, Mrs Anne Tynte-Irvine, Col Martin Passmore [the current Chair of the Trust], Dr David Sinclair and Mr Graeme Scott (all of whom live in Fife)”.
Despite the substantial overlap between the Club and Trust, they are theoretically independent of one another. Indeed, the Constitution we have seen says that “The Trust has no control over any Club affairs or activities, its finances or the organisation of the Procession”.
Their support, however, was initially contested between the Club and Fellowship. Mathewson and Moodie claimed they had the backing of key Trust members, which was denied by Club spokesmen. Those denials have been vindicated by this week’s events.
The Trust makes up its mind
After the Trust’s meeting on 13 March no official statement was immediately released detailing the conclusions drawn, although rumours that reached the ears of The Saint from various reliable sources suggested that an ultimatum had been delivered by the Trust to the Kate Kennedy Club. This rumour was confirmed by the statement released by the Trust on Thursday 22 March, which says:
“[at the meeting on 13 March 2011], which was attended by all of the Trustees, the Trust gave unanimous support to the Club to run the Procession, in the event that the Club chose to alter its admission policy.” (The Saint’s own italics)
Although the Trust are an independent body, as was shown by the power their legal ownership of the props gave them in these events, their impartiality can be called into question as half of the membership is drawn from the Kate Kennedy Club, and also, the Club constitution states that “All Club Members are entitled to attend and contribute to meetings of the Trust.” If this is the case, it is doubtful whether the Fellowship ever stood a realistic chance of winning their support.
The Trust’s support for the Club, now assured in the wake of yesterday’s announcement, was necessary for the Procession to take place as planned this year and in the future.
The Kate Kennedy Club resolves to change
According to the press statement released by the Kate Kennedy Club on Thursday 22 March:
“At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Kate Kennedy Club on Monday 19 March 2012 a formal motion was proposed to allow all first year students, regardless of gender, to apply for membership to the Kate Kennedy Club. The motion was duly passed.”
This meeting of the club began at 7:30pm on that Monday, and ended at 3:30am on Tuesday morning.
The Kate Kennedy Club was unavailable for further comment.
The direction that the Kate Kennedy Fellowship will now take is unclear. Many of the events, such as the Procession and the May Ball, which they hoped would be the Fellowship’s responsibility, are again in the possession of the Kate Kennedy Club.
The Kate Kennedy Fellowship held its second meeting yesterday in Parliament Hall, which had been organised prior to the Kate Kennedy Club announcing their decision to admit women. At 9:13pm on Friday 23 March, the Kate Kennedy Fellowship issued the following statement:
“We whole-heartedly support the Kate Kennedy Club’s move to open their admission process to women and congratulate them in embracing these important ideals. This is an exciting time for St Andrews, its students and the University.”
The Saint has learned that the Rector, Alistair Moffat, met with the Principal, Louise Richardson, in the evening of Thursday 22 March to discuss these events. A press statement is expected from the newly-installed Rector on Friday 23 March. Richardson issued a statement yesterday in which she said:
“I am delighted to welcome the decision by the Kate Kennedy Club to open its membership to female students.” This is in keeping with an earlier statement published by the BBC in 2009 in which she said, “I look forward to the day when membership of the Kate Kennedy Club is open to every student of St Andrews, at which point the university will be delighted to treat the Kate Kennedy Club in the same way as all other clubs and societies.” This day has come.
The Saint would like to clarify that the version of the Constitution that we have seen is now a redundant, outdated version, although it was current until the Extraordinary General Meeting of the Club on Monday night.
The Saint also notes that, although the Club’s motion allows “all first year students, regardless of gender, to apply for membership”, it does not stipulate that any female students have to be accepted into the ranks of the Club.