Dr Fiona Hill, White House intelligence expert, has recently published a memoir detailing her time as a student at the University of St Andrews, including her experience of sexual assault and the challenges she faced as a working class student.
Dr Hill, 56, stated that she was groped whilst working as a waitress at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and says her manager threatened to blacklist her after she made a complaint.
This job ended up being a “one day stint”, as once “one old golfer stuck his hand up the back of my skirt and into my underwear as I bent down with his glass of single malt.” She continued, “I reflexively elbowed him in the face and was ordered out. When I complained about what he had done, the bar manager offered to speak to the other places I worked in St Andrews to make sure I wouldn’t have another job in town.
“He would also deny it if I reported it to the University, which had no official connection to the golf club apart from proximity.”
Her memoir, There is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century, also details accounts of the difficulties Dr Hill faced as a working-class student. Having been brought up in a coal mining family in County Durham, the 56-year-old writes that she was seen as a “common northerner” by some of her peers.
Dr Hill, former senior director in the US National Security Council, further documents the challenges she faced being part of the working class, entering a “bubble of advantage and privilege” where her university peers included relatives of the Queen and the children of government ministers.
Dr Hill studied Russian and Modern History at St Andrews and recalls the experience as a “completely transformational” experience which put her “on my life’s path”.
Nonetheless, the struggles she faced remain part of her recollection of the experience. “For some of my classmates, I was a working-class kid from the lowest rung of the British class system, who had seemingly ended up there by accident.”
Her memoir details an event in which she received commendation for an essay and was thereby accused by a fellow student of sleeping with her tutor to boost her grades.
Dr Hill said that this moment spurred her on to “keep on doing better”. This was in spite of her feelings of imposter syndrome, having missed out on the preliminary work those studying at private schools had the opportunity to undertake. She writes in her book of the continuing issue in the higher education system, in which many children from disadvantaged backgrounds “often struggle” at university due to a lack of support and preparation.
Dr Hill made headlines during the first impeachment of then-President Donald Trump in November 2019. As a witness, she told the inquiry that Trump had disregarded senior advisors and pushed a false theory that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 US election.
Her memoir documents her time working as a US government official as well as her time at university. According to Hill, Trump was “obsessed” with his UK trip of 2018, using every opportunity to “drop not-so-subtle hints” to ex-Prime Minister Theresa May of his desire to play golf at his Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire.
“May and her colleagues would pretend not to understand the conversational thrust and change the subject,” Dr Hill said. “Behind the scenes they made it clear to us that the president’s visit would be a huge political headache for them.”
She added, “From his staff and everyone who came into his orbit, Trump demanded constant attention and adulation.
“The president’s vanity and fragile self-esteem were a point of acute vulnerability. He was a liability to himself and the country — a clear security or counter-intelligence risk.”
Following the book’s publication earlier this month, Mr Trump has criticised Dr Hill and labelled her a “deep state stiff with a nice accent” who was “terrible at her job”.
There is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century is published by Mariner Books.