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Something Different: The 1984

Tired of the 601? Been to every ball? Looking for something different? The Saint brings you the highlights from St Andrews’ weirdest and most wonderful events.

The 1984 is the new student-run debating society on the St Andrews block. Founded by second year humanities students Lula Zeid and Lucas Kavulich, the society runs regular Sunday debates as well as occasional formal events. I spoke to Lula, the co-founder and chairwoman of The 1984, to find out a bit more about the society.

Lula described her frustration with the exclusivity and excessive prices of certain university societies as the fuel which fired her ambition to establish The 1984. Making the society “as financially and socially inclusive as humanly possible” was therefore one of Lula’s principal aims. The very reasonable £5 membership fee gives members access to all society events free of charge. To use a more digestible metric, that’s the equivalent of just over 3.5 cans of Tennent’s or 0.05 tickets to the Kate Kennedy Club’s May Ball.

On International Women’s Day, the society welcomed the former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, to talk about gender and the rights of the child. The event featured a speech from Ms Gilmore as well as an open Q&A session, and a roundtable discussion with society members. Attracting such a high-profile guest reflects the meteoric rise of The 1984 and the esteem with which it’s already held. Lula expressed the society’s continued desire to “host speakers that will debate us on matters of their expertise”.

The Sunday Series has become a hallmark of The 1984. Members meet twice a month in the Rusacks Hotel Library to debate the “issue of the week”. Recent topics have included: “Mental health issues are usually self-inflicted”, “There is no moral difference between a meat-eater and a cannibal”, and “The sex industry is feminist”. All engaging and prescient in equal measure. Lula stressed the informal nature of these discussions. The society shuns the needless formality of a dress-code and there is no pressure on anyone to prepare or contribute to the discussion if they do not feel comfortable.

Lula likened the outlook of The 1984 to that of literary supremo George Orwell from which the society gets its name. He crafted his cautionary tale on the Hebridean Isle of Jura, a location not all that dissimilar to St Andrews with, I can only imagine, a similar quality of nightlife.


“Nineteen Eighty-Four is a work steeped in the language, legacy, and views of Scotland” Lula recounted. “Like Orwell, The 1984 recognises its position in Scotland, looking out over the sea, as one through which to perceive the world.” Standing on East Sands as a brazen seagull swoops down to nick half of my cheese and ham toastie, I can see why George Orwell decided to write such a bleak dystopian novel.


It is refreshing to see a new society flourishing in and around the St Andrews events scene. The 1984 has already garnered an impressive reputation and a loyal following for such a young society. Offering attendees the unique chance to debate with fellow students and pick the brains of world experts, this seems like too good an opportunity to pass up. I will certainly be making the effort to attend one of The 1984’s events in the future.


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Illustration: The 1984 on Facebook

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