A 130-year-old Oxford University dining society voted against the inclusion of women last week.
The all-male Gridiron Club, commonly known as ‘The Grid’, counts Prime Minister David Cameron among its former Presidents, and has faced numerous accusations of elitism during its long history. The club considered a motion to break its decades-old tradition of refusing to admit female members on Thursday morning. Despite a majority of 22 voting in favour, the two-thirds majority necessary to secure the change was not met. 13 members voted against the motion.
In a letter, which was circulated prior to the vote and urged members to support the inclusion of women, New College students Edward Grigg and Matthew de la Hey described The Grid’s current all-male policy as “an anachronism in an Oxford that is advancing”. They also noted: “As the consciousness of the University continues to evolve we remain one of a few institutions whose written constitution excludes women.”
The co-signed letter stressed the benefits of expanding the club’s membership and stated: “Allowing women to join would not only be a landmark occasion in the history of our club, but also a further step down the road towards greater equality … [A] yes vote may also be the occasion at which our generation heralds in a different, more egalitarian, and perhaps more glorious time.”
Oxford’s Gridiron Club was founded in 1884, and for many years only admitted students from the most prestigious public schools. As well as David Cameron, who was President of the Club from 1987 until 1988, other notable alumni include Lord Michael Pratt and author John le Carré.
The outcome of the vote has been met with criticism from some Oxford University students.
Alice Nutting, an administrator of the feminist Facebook forum Cuntry Living, commented: “I’m not remotely surprised that an elitist drinking society has upheld their outdated gender-exclusionary rule. Thankfully, I don’t think that 99 per cent of women at Oxford will really care either way. Who needs a pretentious old boys’ drinking club when you have Babylove?”
The co-Presidents of the Gridiron Club, Nicholas White and Thomas Lambert, have declined our request for comment.