One of St Andrews University’s most high profile clubs is in line for a major shake up following a week of high drama on campus.
The Kate Kennedy Club, which has come under fire recently for its male-only membership policy, was rocked when two of its members resigned in dramatic fashion on Monday night.
Sunny Moodie and Patrick Mathewson then decided to set up the rival Kate Kennedy Fellowship which immediately gained the backing of the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Student Association and the university itself.
The new fellowship has also received an enthusiastic endorsement from university rector Alistair Moffat who has now resigned his life membership of the Kate Kennedy Club.
Membership of the Fellowship will be automatic for all students, male and female, who can then decide if they wish to opt out.
Support for the Kate Kennedy Club was withdrawn by the university back in 2009, shortly after Professor Louise Richardson took up her position as principal.
She said at the time that the university could not support a group that excluded people on gender grounds.
Professor Richardson said also that if the club opened up membership to all students, they would be treated in the same way as all other clubs and societies.
This week she welcomed the establishment of the Kate Kennedy Fellowship and praised students Sunny and Patrick for having the courage to set it up.
“It takes real personal courage to stand up among your friends and disagree with them on a point of principle,” she said.
“It takes even more courage to take the next step and walk out of a club that has been such a large part of your student life. I think that these young men deserve our admiration.
“In an effort to ensure maximum student involvement in the Kate Kennedy traditions, the SRC and the former members of the Kate Kennedy Club have developed the idea of a Kate Kennedy Fellowship.
“All students would be eligible for membership and they would elect a core group of 36 Fellows. Initially, current members of the Club would be invited to be a Fellow.
“This arrangement strikes me as altogether more in keeping with the values of our university. I have been asked to endorse the Kate Kennedy Fellowship and I am delighted to do so.”
Professor Richardson insisted she had never been approached by the Kate Kennedy Club since she withdrew university support three years ago.
“I maintain an open door policy for students, including open office hours every fortnight in term time,’’ she added.
‘‘At any point I would have been happy to talk to the club.”
However, a spokesperson for the Kate Kennedy Club said: “We have always sought to engage in dialogue with the university and student body, but both the principal and the SRC have repeatedly refused our attempts in the past. Even in the midst of these events, we attempted to speak with the principal but she refused talk with our committee.
“We look forward to welcoming the town and students to the Kate Kennedy Procession in April and the May Ball and hope that the university will not attempt to prevent us from putting on these special events that the townsfolk and students have enjoyed for over 85 years.”