Oxford college apologises over sexist ‘tone’ of dinner invitation

New College forced to clarify that event for ‘old members’ at London gentlemen’s club is open to both sexes after dress code was described as ‘collared shirt and jacket’

July 29, 2016
Cigar and whisky
Source: iStock
Yes, women are welcome (but not required to wear ties)

An Oxford college has had to issue a swift apology after an invitation to the college society dinner seemed to imply that only men were welcome.

On 27 July, Jamie Dundas, president of the New College Society, invited “old members” to its annual general meeting and London dinner, to be held in November.

This is due to take place at the Savile Club, celebrated for “its informality and friendliness”, the literary greats who used to be members and a “spectacular ballroom…in Louis XVI style”. Yet its current membership is men-only, and the dress code for the event was given as “collared shirt and jacket (ties are not mandatory)”.

The following day, Jonathan Rubery, communications and events manager at New College, sent a hasty follow-up message, seen by Times Higher Education, “apologis[ing] because the tone of the [earlier] email implied that women were not welcome at this event” and "regret[ting] any disappointment caused by the venue choice”.

“Old members” were therefore assured that “the intention was certainly not to exclude anyone”, that “women are welcome to attend” – and that the dress code should have been described as “lounge suits”.

New College elected its first female fellow in 1974, and the first female undergraduates were admitted in 1979, according to the college’s website. 


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