How do you tackle a culture? Well, first you define it.
The Students’ Union has aimed to do just that, grouping a number of attitudes, actions and language into the often undefinable realm of ‘Lad Culture’.
They have had to be cautious, however, stepping away from the presumed ‘sport-lad’ link, rather making the assertion that ‘Lad Culture’ is not unique to any group, person or – most interestingly – gender.
But the survey has highlighted that it is women who are, as often asserted, the main victims of ‘Lad Culture’. A third of female students having been sexually harassed is a sobering and difficult to swallow statistic.
Now the SU must get students to acknowledge the ‘culture’ they are aiming to tackle actually exists; no mean feat given that only 29% of respondents believed the issue is prevalent. And once they’ve accepted the problem, campaigning for change in attitudes could prove equally difficult.
In regards to these attitudes, one certain fact emerges: the University of Bath is split on what constitutes ‘acceptable behaviour’.
What remains to emerge are the statistics on where sexual harassment has been most common; a fact which could help narrow the definition and allow for more targeted action.
This action however will no doubt be of great interest to both sides of the ‘Lad Culture’. Some campaigners are already calling for far more vigorous investigations into alleged incidents, seeing some groups as untouchable. Meanwhile any attempts to change behaviour might be perceived as overly assertive or ‘politically correct’ by the Students’ Union.
Needless to say, there will always remain one side of the debate unhappy with whatever the SU decides to do.
Also under scrutiny are what actions the Students’ Union will take if it emerges that SU-backed events or club nights are implicated in the harassment claims. If a number of students have been ‘groped’ or ‘touched’ at SCORE, for example, is the SU already at fault for allowing such actions to take place just twenty meters from the President’s door?
Until those statistics come in, however, the conversation will continue. Most importantly, is ‘Lad Culture’ at fault, or are we simply pinning far greater, underlining problems on something that might not even exist?