St Andrews society mottoes  

Because St Andrews was a small university set in a small town, student life necessarily revolved around university societies. It is still small, with fewer than 9,000 students, but was even smaller when I knew it. There were societies for every conceivable student interest and sport, and if there were an activity or interest not covered, some students would start up a new society. Ones that were affiliated to the Students' Representative Council (SRC) would qualify for grants to assist their activities, and supplement the membership fees a few of them charged.

To qualify for affiliation, a society had to have an approved constitution that had been vetted by the SRC. Sometimes we formed societies for the sole purpose of teasing the SRC and exposing the bias it showed in determining which ones to approve and give grants to.

We formed the "Duck Club," whose declared purpose was to feed the Kinnessburn ducks. The Kinnessburn is the small stream that runs through St Andrews from West to East, just downhill from the town centre. The last clause of the society's proposed constitution declared that its motto would be "amate anatem," which translates as "lovaduck," a slang phrase that denotes an exclamation of surprise.

It was obviously a spoof, but the application was put forward and had to be taken seriously. The SRC went through contortions to turn it down, rather than have student money used to feed ducks. The same happened with the "Aye Aye Club," a society set up to sue the SRC. Its name was pronounced as "The I – I Club," referring to the initial letters of an Interim Interdict, the Scottish equivalent of an injunction. Its motto was "And having writ, moves on," a line from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It was not approved for affiliation.

The "Three Bears Club" never sought SRC approval or affiliation, though it did have a constitution, whose last clause declared its motto to be "Exit, pursued by a bear," a stage direction from Shakespeare.