Alleged rugby bus chant “normalises rape”

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Written by Benjamin Butcher & Thomas Gane

The University of Bath Rugby club has been reprimanded after a series of concerns about their behaviour at SCORE, the Students’ Union’s Wednesday club night popular with sports clubs. Chief among these is an alleged chant, which included references to ‘rape’ and ‘miscarriages’, carried out on the bus from town to the University campus.

This comes only a week after the London School of Economics decided to suspend their rugby team for distributing ‘homophobic’ and ‘sexist’ literature at their Freshers’ Fair.

Despite receiving a formal complaint from one concerned witness on the bus, the University of Bath Students’ Union has been unable to find any individuals taking part in the chant or provide any conclusive evidence about which club was involved in the event.

The rugby club will, however, undergo a period of monitoring to assess and evaluate the level and nature of ‘Lad Culture’ which exists within the sports group.

One witness said, “I was incredibly angry and upset personally and the visible pain on the faces of female friends that could also hear the chanting only made this worse.” The team was reportedly asked by the bus driver to quieten down before eventually being kicked off the bus.
The University of Bath Rugby Club declined to comment when asked by bathimpact about the allegations.

The committee of the University of Bath Gender Equality, said of the event; “we condemn any behaviour, by any of the university’s groups and societies, that is offensive and/or alludes to rape apologism, as we feel that this sort of behaviour normalises rape and contributes to rape culture.
“To do it in a public space, shows a lack of empathy and an insensitivity towards rape survivors and those who have suffered a miscarriage. Behaviour by students and student groups who make their fellow peers feel uncomfortable, intimidated and unsafe in university spaces (including transport) should not be tolerated.

“We encourage students to stand up and speak out when they see this sort of behaviour happening and we will support them in any way possible.”
There were a number of incidents that occurred at the first SCORE of the semester, but this resulted in a very small amount of official reports being submitted. Reports from campus security concluded that two students went to hospital, although no CCTV footage or witnesses shone light on the incident.

As well as the alleged misdemeanours by the rugby club, bathimpact has also obtained footage of members of the University of Bath Association Football and Futsal Club, talking about their “initiations”. When asked about it, the individuals claimed to have “eaten fish”, “drank piss”, vomited and “downed all sorts”. This contradicts the official Students’ Union policy of not having initiations, preferring to use the term ‘Welcome Drinks’.

The University of Bath Association Football and Futsal Club Chair, Jack Stanbury, commented that, “every single activity we undertook at our Welcome Social was approved by the Students’ Union and under no circumstances did we make our first years ‘drink piss’ or force them to do anything for that matter”.

Allegedly the freshers in question were members of the first team who have separate ‘Welcome Drinks’, however this is still under investigation.
The University of Exeter recently banned their football team from the planned varsity match against Bath after controversial ‘Welcome Drinks’ at which freshers were pressured into kissing a dead eel.

These events vindicate a new campaign currently working to tackle ‘lad culture’ across all parts of the Students’ Union. Talking at a University of Bath Gender Equality meeting, SU President Jordan Kenny, who is spearheading the project, said he wanted an “idiot-proof campaign” which would aim to educate students about the harmful impacts of ‘Lad Culture’.

Taking inspiration from other successful campaigns, including the University of Manchester’s ‘We Get It’ campaign and the University of Exeter’s #NeverOK project, Mr Kenny explained that the SU wants to “start a conversation on the topic”.

Concerns have been raised, however, on how the campaign will transpire, with many details remaining unclear. Currently discussions are revolving around empowering students who are the victims of ‘Lad Culture’, ‘naming and shaming’ those accused of perpetrating the ideas and a pledge system encouraging students to openly speak out against the problem. No timetable is currently in place.

Mr Kenny told bathimpact, “To cultivate cultural change takes the involvement of not only those affected by ‘Lad Culture’, but also those individuals who are perpetuating it.

“Establishing a Strategy Group will ensure that the definitions of ‘Lad Culture’, measures put in place to address the issues, and outcomes are the most appropriate for the University of Bath and the Students’ Union.

“The hope is that ‘Lad Culture’ is a topic that becomes discussed between students not because it is acceptable, but that is challenged, addressed and prevented from excluding students studying at the University of Bath.”

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About Author

Benjamin is the former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of bathimpact and covers stories on University of Bath, University of Bath Students’ Union, Bath politics and student issues

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