Honour for sectarian singalong rector splits St Andrews

June 11, 1999

Staff and students at St Andrews University have clashed over honouring QC Donald Findlay who recently resigned as vice- chairman of Rangers football club after leading a sectarian singalong.

Mr Findlay will shortly end his second term as the student-elected university rector and is in line for an honorary degree. The senate has already accepted his nomination for the degree from Nick Bibby, president of the students' association.

But a university spokesman said: "A number of senators have expressed concerns in writing regarding recent events. As a result of that, the issue may be debated by the senate when it meets later this month."

Jim Lawrence, president of St Andrews' Association of University Teachers, said a number of academics were "quite disturbed" by the idea of an accolade for Mr Findlay.

"They do not like the idea that what is not good enough for Rangers football club could be quite tolerable at St Andrews University. The gist of comments coming out is that we appreciate he is elected by the students, there is no criticism of how the students elect a rector, and he appears to have been a very successful rector. But the honorary degree aspect is causing some disquiet,'' Dr Lawrence said.

Staff were particularly concerned because the university had recently produced an equal opportunities booklet. Some feel that honouring Mr Findlay would conflict with any institution that backs equal opportunities and non-discrimination.

There may also be proposals at St Andrews AUT's annual general meeting this weekend to have the degree withdrawn. But Dr Lawrence said that he believed the onus was on Mr Findlay to reconsider accepting the degree.

Mr Bibby said it was entirely a student matter and it was not for the staff to interfere.

"I have not received any indication from the student community that we should be asking (Mr Findlay) to reconsider. As far as I'm concerned, he's been a superb rector.''

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