UPDATE: Footlights resignation drama

The Committee does not acknowledge Ruby Keane’s resignation ‘as one of protest’

A statement issued by the Footlights Committee has brought another dimension into the resignation scandal.

The statement predominantly focuses on the BME and access criticisms cited by Keane in her resignation email – the current Footlights leadership plan on "implementing a number of changes to the committee system, whilst also putting into place a number of other measures designed to make comedy in Cambridge more accessible and more representative".

These reforms will include changing "The Footlights Committee" to "The Footlights Administrative Committee", which will be formed of "clearly defined roles, for which applicants specifically apply". It is hoped that a new application process will encourage applicants to display "administrative and organisational skills" in addition to "a passion for comedy". In order to "make the Footlights a less nebulous and confusing entity", the newly elected Committee will hold an informal mingle in a "neutral space".

Furthermore, comedy will be brought "out of the ADC theatre and into colleges" through college smokers and open-mics, to encourage newcomers to participate. These will be ensured by those elected to the newly created Committee positions of "College Smoker Reps".

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This is in opposition to Keane's justification for resigning.

The statement suggests that these changes are being brought about due to "meetings and conversations we’ve been having throughout this past term", including a BME open discussion, as opposed to the pressure applied by Keane's resignation.

A final paragraph addresses this scandal: "We wish Ruby well but we cannot acknowledge her resignation as one of protest. Ruby was asked to resign as President by the rest of the Committee due to, among other things, concerns about her misuse of the role of President and her management of the society following a serious incident which could have resulted in the dissolution of the Footlights’ assets in their entirety". The Committee has assured The Tab that this is not an allusion to financial difficulties, as suggested in a recent article by 'The Cambridge Student'.

In response to such accusations, Keane has issued a further statement of explanation: "The "financial mismanagement" claimed by the committee refers to an issue with the Proctors of the university. Every year, the senior treasurer must send them our accounts in order for the society to remain registered. The vice-president and I revived an email stating that the society was being de-registered, as the accounts had not been received. They said they had sent us several warning emails, however neither the Vice President or I had received these, as they had gone to the senior treasurer only. Upon receiving the de-registration email, I forwarded the correspondence to our junior treasurer, who is the only committee member who has access to the accounts, and he was then able to ensure that the relevant documents were submitted."

She criticises comments of "financial mismanagement" as a "needless deflection" from the bigger issue of the "current committee's failure to implement the open voting system that was discussed at the BME open meeting", a "failure" that the committee has confirmed it will not rectify this year. Keane says that she resigned with a detailed email so as not to "risk everything returning to the old system". She, therefore, believes that the talk about financial difficulties – which were "unavoidable" and "solved within a day" – is "deflection".

The Footlights Committee is being reformed, but is this enough?

Further, Keane claims that the Committee "have also failed to mention that they believed I should step down because I was "reckless" in suggesting the changes to the committee structure, and I was wrong to offer places at the Footlights Arts Theatre show to second year comedians "without audition"".

Keane concludes by urging the Committee "to either focus on the changes, or speak directly to the non-committee members, female, non-binary or BME comedians who these changes will benefit". "We all believe these changes should happen, there was simply a disagreement over the pace at which they should be implemented".

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University of Cambridge cambridge footlights resignation