Cambridge Footlights president resigns amid diversity row

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Stephen Fry began his comedy career in the Cambridge Footlights in 1981Credit:Dominic Lipinski/PA While Ms Keane recommended that democratic elections were introduced to appoint such a body, others argued that there was not sufficient time to organise the elections and change the society’s constitution.The bitter row has prompted what is thought to be the first reorganisation of the society in many years.In an internal email, seen by The Daily Telegraph, remaining committee members announced the introduction of “general accessibility discussion groups”, intended to address gender and class imbalances in the society. While new committee members will still be directly appointed, elections are expected to be held next year. In minutes from a subsequent “open discussion group”, Cambridge students expressed concerns that “the comedy that the Footlights committee are interested in tends to not be done by BME people”.Plans were drawn up to turn the committee – who are currently the only official ‘Footlights’ and the only members who can perform at events without auditioning – into an administrative body.center_img A feud has broken out at prestigious Cambridge University comedy society the Footlights, leading the president to quit claiming her committee refused to hold democratic elections to increase diversity.Ruby Keane said that she “cannot criticise the Footlights while [she] is still its President”, and so left the group to raise her concerns about the lack of BME representation on the club’s committee.The move follows a protracted debate over elitism within the Footlights, which counts Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson among its alumni.The row began when Ms Keane criticising the gender balance of a student comedy night on Facebook. Her comments were met with counter-accusations that the Footlights had no ethnic minority students on its ten-strong committee.One student, Hasan Al-Habib, said that the society’s annual comedy event for ethnic minority performers was “the metaphorical equivalent of Footlights’ ‘black best friend’”, Varsity reported last month. Stephen Fry who along with Steven Moffat and Bernie Sanders are among the star BBC bookings announced for this year's Hay Festivallast_img read more