Academic calls out Aberdeen club over men-only policy

A SCOTS academic has publicly hit out at one of the last remaining men-only clubs in Scotland, after receiving an invite to an exclusive lunch.

The RNUC, established 160 years ago, has a strict men-only policy. Picture: Contributed
The RNUC, established 160 years ago, has a strict men-only policy. Picture: Contributed

Dr Malcolm Harvey, a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, snubbed the invitation from The Royal Northern and University Club (RNUC) and instead wrote a letter slamming the ‘sexist establishment’.

Dr Harvey took the club to task over its strict men-only policy on Twitter.

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In a letter headed ‘Malcolm Harvey est. 1984 - the year Liechtenstein enfranchised women’, Dr Harvey said: “‘Equality of gender’ has a long and exceptional history, with many great advocates - female AND male - and provides a wonderful environment for societal development and progress. You may be aware that long-time all-male establishments such as the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and Augusta National Golf Club have finally joined the twenty-first century and admitted their first female members. Our very own Scottish Parliament has three of five party leaders who are female.”

Dr Harvey, who co-authored Small Nations in a Big World: What Scotland Can Learn, continued: “I am very pleased to personally reject your offer of lunch at your sexist establishment.

“If you would be so kind as to amend your old-fashioned, outdated and fundamentally ridiculous membership criteria at the earliest possible opportunity, I very much look forward to changing my position and visiting your club, as I’m sure would many other professional women and men of my acquaintance.

“Until such times I will continue to view your establishment as an anachronism to twenty-first century views of society.

“Yours, truly exasperated that this is still a thing in 2016, Dr Malcolm Harvey.”

Dr Harvey’s tweet, in which he posted both the letter from the RNUC and his reply, has been retweeted over 260 times and liked nearly 300 times.

Dr Harvey said that the reaction to his tweet had been mostly positive, adding: “The response online has mostly been supportive but I’ve had a couple of abusive messages.

“I don’t think it’s anything I didn’t expect.”

Ironically, talks held in July last year aimed at seeking RNUC members’ views on women joining the institution were shelved after the debate caused ‘ungentlemanly discussions’.

Vice-chairman Mel Keenan said at the time: “This discussion became quite animated and led to, perhaps you might say, ungentlemanly discussions at times, so what we’ve tried to look at is, can we have some formula that we can agree so as to discuss this calmly.

“Over the years this topic has been discussed but it has never reached the two-thirds majority needed. It’s a thing that some people have strong views about.”

Women are permitted by the 700-member RNUC to attend various functions and are ‘allowed’ in the bar, but must be signed in by a member.