Students participated in discussions led by SU officers on Wednesday evening at a follow up meeting to the HeforShe event that took place earlier this month.
Attendees were split into three focus groups to discuss key topics that had been raised at the previous HeforShe event: ‘lad culture’, sexual assault, and gender and sexual fluidity. Students identified ways in which these issues could be practically addressed on campus, from social media campaigns to awareness workshops.
The group that addressed ‘lad culture’ stressed the importance of reaching as many students as possible with their message.
The existing ‘lad culture’ pledge, which encourages sports team members to swear off this sort of behaviour and discourage it in their friendship groups, was seen as not reaching a large segment of the University population.
University of Nottingham Feminists’ campaigns group also have a plan in place to run workshops later in the term to educate sports teams about ‘lad culture’. As one student said, the campaign should be “unified and uni-wide”.
The University of Oxford’s ‘good lad’ campaign was suggested as a successful model and plans were made to contact the students behind it for ideas and advice.
“If you target freshers, there won’t be half the problems that could occur later on in the years”
One point of contention in the group was whether feminism should be a key word in an ‘anti-lad culture’ campaign. Some thought that a focus on feminism could detract from the overall message and be off-putting for some students, whereas one student argued that there was a “stigma” surrounding feminists and that “feminism shouldn’t be something to be afraid of” and that the campaign would be “a good opportunity to highlight this”.
Regarding consent and sexual assault, students primarily focussed on the education of freshers and the potential blurring of lines when alcohol is involved. As one student commented, “If you target freshers, there won’t be half the problems that could occur later on in the years”.
“Society is not open to men being victims”
The group reinforced the message that anyone can be a victim including men and the LGBT community. One student noted that “society is not open to men being victims”.
Students discussing gender and sexual fluidity suggested raising awareness by creating a ‘human library’, a number of pre-recorded interviews with students for the purpose of breaking down stereotypes. These videos could be played at the start of lectures to raise awareness across all University faculties.
The meeting was concluded with plans and questions for the future, as individual groups agreed to meet on a regular basis to put their ideas into action. The question of how to reach students not affiliated with sports teams or other societies was raised as a future topic for discussion.
SU President Angharad Smith said that “this meeting has been about focussing their campaign… people have already come up with such good ideas”.
Image: Madeleine Phillips