During the final Council Meeting of spring term, a paper was passed that will limit the presence of the Tie Clubs at the Union. The invite only ‘secret’ clubs have been accused of sexism, discrimination, and elitism among other things in the past and the Union has time and time again reiterated it is not in any way affiliated with them. The paper, proposed by Andrew Olson, attempted to limit tankard use by Tie Clubs by enforcing the Equal Opportunities Policy.
Olson argued that according to the policy, the Union should “try and foster an environment free of unfair discrimination and harassment” and that any club which fails to comply with this policy as a consequence shouldn’t have access to Union resources. He argued that merely the invitation only mechanism in which the clubs operate should exclude them from using Union resources. The paper is an attempt to tackle concerns of a culture of discrimination thought to be prevalent within these clubs. It did however cause many Tie Club members to view it as a witch-hunt and request both anonymous voting and amendments that would remove references of the Tie Clubs (namely the 22 Club, the Chaps Club and the Links Club from the paper). After a vote it was decided that voting would not be anonymous.
Merely the invitation only mechanism in which the clubs operate should exclude them from using Union resources
As soon as the paper was put to discussion, protests started pouring in from the floor, which saw a higher number of students that usual, presumably Tie Club members and students that had come to show support for the paper. Almost immediately, ICU President Nas Andriopoulos protested allegations that his involvement with the Tie Clubs could interfere with carrying out his role. “I have no problem separating my professional to personal life and I found any insinuations in the paper and on Facebook groups that I couldn’t quite unimpressive,” he said. Contrary to his opening statement he proceeded to argue almost every point raised by Olson. He also voted against Note Three which put on record that concerns have been raised surrounding “certain alumni groups” (referring to the Tie Clubs) and Resolution Two which basically would amend the Tankard Policy in order to ban groups that violate the Safe Space Policy (again referring to the Tie Clubs) from using tankards.
Ellie Winstanley current ACC Chair and XV’s club president as well as several other Tie Club members and representatives also took to the floor to protest certain points. Winstanley claimed certain club leaders had been trying to “modernise” certain clubs to make them “more progressive” and maintained that the XV’s were in fact a sister group to the 22s. Regarding the XV’s she said “We do not discriminate based on gender and on race and I feel like not acknowledging the progress that we’ve made is in fact hindering it.” Though this change might be happening it should be noted that the Links for example only have one female member who is currently a student.
James Cox Deputy President for Clubs and Societies and a Tie Club member also took to the floor to defend the organisations. Cox claimed there’s been a lot of misinformation surrounding what these “public facing, self organising alumni associations” do and do not get up to and proclaimed his disappointment in the marginalisation of Tie Club members to several audience members’ amusement.
James Cox proclaimed his disappointment in the marginalisation of Tie Club members to several audience members’ amusement
“The motion today ignores the efforts of recent years to allow anyone who wants to come along and wants to get to know the club members to be part of one. The clubs don’t want people to feel like they can’t come along if they want to even if that’s not coming across. These are students facing the same financial, physical and mental health issues as everyone else, not privileged private-schooled boys as people might believe. I can’t personally seem to get my head around as to why groups renowned for the promotion of free expression have rallied in support of a paper that marginalises a small minority of students and how they spend their free time.”
Several students also showed up to push for measures against Tie Clubs. Notably Fintan O’Connor, newly elected Deputy President for Welfare was unforgiving. “This paper is not out to smear Tie Clubs or to smear their members”, O’Connor said adding that it was an effort to create an inclusive and open community and concluding that “it’s inconsistent with our beliefs to continue to support a relic of institutionalised privilege [referring to the invitation only policy] even in such ways as tankard storage and that is why I’m supporting this paper.”
When pressed for details on the process behind the invite only mechanism Tie Club members said it’s about “meeting” and “interacting”, whatever that means.
When pressed for details on the process behind the invite only mechanism Tie Club members said it’s about “meeting” and “interacting”, whatever that means
After a lengthy discussion of amendments, the paper passed with a majority vote. Notable votes against several notes, beliefs and resolutions predictably came from Andriopoulos, Cox, and Winstanley but also from RSMU President Noah Hawkings and CGCU Academic Affairs Officer Claudia Caravello. The full breakdown can be found online.
Alex Adler a postgraduate Council members was satisfied with the result. “I’m glad the paper passed despite the amendments which I feel slightly weakened the sentiment. I’m happy to see that a subject could raise such vigorous debate in Council, although I would rather see it also happen with issues more relevant to the student experience, like tuition, bursaries and racism.”
The Union spearheaded by Deputy President Finance and Services, Rachel Blythe is expected to soon start dealing with the Tie Club tankards.