By now I’m sure you’re familiar with the goings on at LSE. The (former) Rugby club distributed sexist and homophobic leaflets to Freshers all across their university, which resulted in many students calling them out, with the internet backing up those who did, and their club being disbanded for the year. This is an unfortunately perfect example of how harmful lad culture can be at university. But it doesn’t stand alone, and shouldn’t be treated as though it does. We’ve got one university to take action against the promotion of this lifestyle; what about the rest?
Take Nottingham University, for example. Only now are we beginning to hear about the chant from Nottingham university’s fresher’s week, despite it being over a month ago. The words to this were incredibly misogynistic and rude, when one student said they didn’t wish to participate, the hall rep responded with ‘yeah, it is a bit naughty’, patronizing them as if not wanting to participate was ‘prudish’ and not just being a decent human being.
Despite having reps sign a clause stating they will not promote the singing of such abusive and offensive songs, they still felt it was okay to make fresher’s feel uncomfortable, going against university and union policy to do so, proving that the problem is a deeper issue than this. The worst thing is that older students clearly knew what was going on and were equally put off by it, yet had done nothing further to try and combat this tradition at their university, the Editor of their student newspaper saying that he wasn’t shocked to hear what had happened, having heard these chants so many times before.
This is just one more example in a list of many. Around two thirds of students have heard rape and sexual assault jokes made around their campus. Even at universities like Oxford, which recently introduced consent workshops into their welcome week schedule, new students talk of being pressured into participating in this culture, encouraged to laugh along and join in with banter as they are being verbally violated. Furthermore, more than a third of students are aware of promotional material issued by their universities that use images of sexualised women, and most agreed that this is something that made them feel incredibly uncomfortable.
This is an element of student life that desperately needs our attention. Luckily we are doing lots to tackle it at Royal Holloway, but it is part of student culture as a whole, and it is not limited to one university or one sports club and we cannot solve it alone.
I leave you with words from the NUS Women’s Officer, Susuana Antubam, who calls on universities to continue to promote zero tolerance of this behaviour on campus. ‘Lad culture goes beyond misogyny. Lad culture is about a specific pack mentality which endorses a range of discriminatory behaviour such as sexism, classism, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and ableism – all in the name of “banter”.