89% of Hawks who voted supported the moveLOUIS ASHWORTH

Resident student members of the Hawks - an all-male society comprised primarily of Blues sportsmen - last week voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing the Ospreys to share usage of the Hawks’ clubhouse. The Ospreys are an all-female society comprised primarily of Blues sportswomen.

In last week’s vote, all club members that are current members of the University (resident Hawks) were asked to express their view on whether, “in return for payment for a fee equal to that paid by resident hawks, the committee may grant resident members of the Ospreys access to the facilities of the clubhouse.”

Of 156 resident Hawks, 127 members participated in the vote, with 113 (89%) voting in favour and 14 against (11%). This, however, was an “advisory” vote and will be followed an “All Hawks” vote which is expected to take place this month, in which Hawks alumni will also be able to participate.

“The proposal will solidify the long-standing history of cooperation between Hawks and Ospreys”

The Hawks’ Club was founded in 1872 as a society for the University’s elite athletes. Its members have included actor Hugh Laurie, former England cricket captain Mike Atherton, and King George VI. The four-floor clubhouse, which opened in 1933 and is located at Portugal Place, houses a members’ room, bar, dining room and committee room. The clubhouse is also open to members of the Dining Rights Club, which is comprised of local professional or business people of any gender.

This vote came almost two years after a proposal that the Hawks and Opsreys share the facilities of Calder House was first announced in Easter 2017, and over a year after the Hawks and Ospreys began working together to review this proposal in October 2017. After the announcement of the review, the presidents of the Hawks and Ospreys told Varsity that had “worked in close partnership from the beginning on the clubhouse sharing proposal”.

“Whatever the final decision,” they said, “both clubs are committed to continuing to work closely to ensure the outcome is both sustainable and positive for Cambridge sport.”

Prior to the vote, President of the Hawks Club Mike Phillips had sent out a letter to all resident Hawks which stated:

“The Committee are unanimous in their support of the proposal, not least because it will solidify the long-standing history of cooperation between Hawks and Ospreys.”

The Ospreys were founded in 1985 as a social club for the University’s sportswomen, making it a century younger than its male counterpart. The Ospreys do not at present have their own clubhouse. However, as Phillips pointed out in his letter to Resident Hawks ahead of the vote, “the Ospreys currently use the Clubhouse in Portugal Place for a number of purposes on an informal basis.

“More recently, Resident Ospreys have been invited to hold their committee meetings and prize-giving ceremonies at the Clubhouse.”

Following the vote, Phillips expressed in an email to all Resident Hawks that he felt that there now exists “a strong mandate from Resident Hawks to proceed with the proposal.”

Speaking to Varsity, a resident Hawk who voted in favour of the proposal explained his support for the move: “The Hawks’ and Ospreys are different clubs, for different people, but as far as the Clubhouse is concerned there is little to no difference, practically speaking. Hawks and Ospreys use it alike, so I see no reason why this arrangement should not just be formalised and put to bed.”

He stressed the importance of showing that the Hawks are “a progressive club, not an outdated institution of a bygone era.”

This attitude was shared in the proposal’s original announcement in the Hawks’ publication, The Hawk. The piece cited examples of how sport in Cambridge is “changing”, such as mixed Lacrosse becoming a Varsity fixture. Such changes, it said, reflected “a general coming together of, and mutual respect for, men’s and women’s sport.”

It also noted that sponsors were “not willing to be associated with single sex clubs”, and that the move would “give the Ospreys the base that they have so long been without”.

The proposal will not involve a merger between the Hawks’ and the Ospreys’, and both clubs will be expected to maintain their own membership criteria. There will be no transfer of assets between the clubs, and alumni payments will still go to their respective clubs.


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Phillips announced that he will now be contacting all members of the club to inform them of the outcome of the vote. A further vote will then be held, in which both resident and non-resident Hawks will be able to participate.

The presidents of The Hawks' Club and The Ospreys have been contacted for comment.

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