Vincent’s Club was founded in 1863 by WB Woodgate. From its inception members have always been elected for their all-round qualities: social, sporting and intellectual.
The Club’s current, residential membership varies between 80 and 150 at any one time, with the alumni membership numbering nearly 5000. On matters of Constitutional change only the residential membership has a vote, and any change requires a majority of at least two thirds.
To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Club in 2013 the V150 project was launched to:
- Revitalise links with the alumni members
- Renovate the premises
- Ensure the Club is professionally and well managed
- Fund a number of Sports scholarships and bursaries for both men and women, able bodied and disabled athletes.
- Develop an Outreach programme
The Constitutional Vote
Between October 2014 and February 2015 the Club undertook a consultation process of its alumni members to seek their views on removing the word “male” from the Constitution, thus allowing for the election of women as members. 695 alumni members gave their opinion: 12% abstained; most saying it is up to the resident members to decide. 25.5% were against deleting the word “male” from the Constitution, and 62.5% alumni members were of the opinion that change should occur.
In addition Vincent’s Club also consulted Atalanta’s Club, the major Oxford club for sports women. 91% of those Atalanta’s members who voted (which was two thirds of their resident members) expressed the view that they would rather Atalanta’s remain the sole club representing women’s sport in Oxford, than Vincent’s change its constitution.
With this information to hand the resident members recently voted on the issue and whilst a majority of resident members voted to remove the word “male”, the majority fell below the two thirds required for the amendment to the constitution.
Vincent’s will continue its close relationship with Atalanta’s, and many other Oxford sportswomen, for example in running such projects as the Outreach programme. It was also a source of immense satisfaction to Vincent’s members that three of the seven sports awards the Club made in the first year of the Vincent’s scholarships and bursaries went to women, and the Club will shortly be announcing the endowment of another scholarship, which has been named after an outstanding Oxford sportswoman.
Finally, as they have for many years, Vincent’s will continue to welcome women into the clubhouse, both at lunchtime and in the evening, to enjoy the refurbished amenities for which everyone is so grateful to the Vincent’s alumni members for providing.