Cambridge Union relaxes dress code

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The Independent Online

One of the UK's most famous debating societies is ending a tradition nearly 200 years old by no longer requiring speakers to wear dinner suits and bow ties.

In future, guest and student speakers taking part in Cambridge University Union debates will only be asked to "dress smartly". The new president, Joseph Devanny, said he thought the custom was out of date and might be putting off possible participants.

"I think it is completely outmoded," he said. "It is putting people off who might want to get involved but for the formality, or who might not be able to afford a dinner suit and black tie. I think this will show the university in a better light."

Mr Devanny, 21, a third-year politics student at Jesus College who comes from Bradford, said the tradition had been in place since the society was formed in 1815.

"I think it was probably more formally adhered to in the past," he added. "But these days, when most of the audience arestudents in T-shirts and jeans, it isn't appropriate."

Committee members, who have previously dressed in formal attire, will also be allowed to wear more casual clothes.