The Gridiron Club (Oxford University)

The Gridiron Club, popularly called The Grid, is a club open to male students at the University of Oxford. In the past the club's membership was solely drawn from major public schools and, although this is no longer technically a criterion for membership, it is still largely true. Members of other clubs, such as The Bullingdon Club, The Piers Gaveston and The Stoics, are usually chosen from among existing Grid members.[1]

The club was founded in 1884 and, as with other beefsteak clubs of the 18th and 19th centuries, the traditional grilling gridiron is the club's symbol. The gridiron symbol appears on the club tie (white gridirons on an Oxford blue field) and on the sign outside its current premises in The Golden Cross. References have been made to the Gridiron Club in many works, including Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Compton MacKenzie's Sinister Street and Ferdinand Mount's Cold Cream: My Early Life and Other Mistakes.[2]

The Gridiron's reciprocal club at the University of Cambridge is the Pitt Club; the club also has reciprocal arrangements with the Reform Club and Travellers Club in London. Comparable societies in the United States include Skull and Bones at Yale, Sphinx Society at Dartmouth, Cap and Skull at Rutgers, Trinity College's Episkopon in Canada, and the Porcellian Club at Harvard University in Boston.

Notable former members of the club include John le Carré, Alexander, 7th Marquess of Bath, Lord Michael Pratt (a former Secretary of the Grid), and Prime Minister David Cameron (President of the Grid 1987–1988).[3][4][5]

The Gridiron has a board of trustees, the members of which are usually former members of the club. In addition, there is at least one Senior Member who supervises the running of the club and is invariably a don at the University of Oxford. Day-to-day management is handled by an undergraduate committee consisting of a President, Treasurer, Secretary and a small number of other members 'without portfolio'. During the undergraduate years of Boris Johnson, David Cameron and George Osborne, the Senior Members of the Grid were the distinguished historians Jeremy Catto of Oriel College and Maurice Keen of Balliol. Sports journalist Sally Jones (journalist) and Lord Salisbury's daughter Lady Georgiana Campbell both gained notoriety by separately standing for election to the all-male club (Lady Georgiana famously doing so in male clothing).[6]

In 2015 the Gridiron Club divided over the issue of the acceptance of women within the club. According to club rules a vote could only pass by two-thirds majority (Rule XXIV). This was voted on in the academic year of 2014/15. The vote did not pass, and was subsequently called in the following academic year. This contravened Rule XXV requiring the span of seven years before a new ballot. The motion again failed to pass, and was called a third time in a general meeting, where the ballot passed. This was, however, an illegal ballot. In the subsequent year the club failed to sustain members as the clubs split. Two clubs exist today in two locations in Oxford, both of which call themselves the Gridiron Club. The first now accepts women, including women who do not attend the University of Oxford, the latter remaining faithful to the original rules of the club.


See also

References

  1. "Lord Bath, Memoirs". www.lordbath.co.uk. 1999. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  2. Mount, Ferdinand. Cold Cream: My Early Life and Other Mistakes, The Sunday Times, 27 April 2008
  3. "Behind and Iron Curtain". The Independent. 3 August 1993. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  4. "Obituary". The Telegraph. 8 September 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  5. Mount, Harry (30 April 2010). "My Cousin David Cameron". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  6. "The Saturday Profile Viscount Cranborne, Conservative Peer: The last true blue blood". The Independent. 21 November 1998. Retrieved 9 October 2011.

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