Sheffield Students’ Union has vowed to take a zero-tolerance approach on its upcoming white t-shirt social as Forge Press exclusively reveals paedophilic and homophobic messages on t-shirts at a recent ‘North vs. Midlands vs. South’ bar crawl, organised by EatMyDisco.

President Lillian Jones promised to take “offensive or inappropriate messaging very seriously”, including refused entry, at the Dance Your Socs Off (DYSO) white t-shirt bar crawl for University of Sheffield societies on 18 October.

It comes as Forge Press can reveal that one t-shirt brandished the message ‘Mr I f*ck kids’ at  the ‘North vs. Midlands vs. South’ social on September 27, while others suggested a culture of homophobia and sexualisation at the student event.

Organisers EatMyDisco, part of CODE Sheffield, were criticised in the national press last year after pictures emerged from Tiger Works Bar showing an official event t-shirt scrawled by students with the words ‘consent is a myth’ and ‘rape is not a crime’.

But this year, t-shirts at the event’s stop in Tiger Works bar, on West Street, included the messages ‘predator’, ‘tonight’s a buffet of pussy’ and ‘pls shag me’.

The offensive messages were seen in Tiger Works Bar on West Street. Picture: Ewan Somerville

It is unclear whether the individual photographed, and the others witnessed, are students at either the University of Sheffield or Sheffield Hallam university.

Our reporter witnessed one man scrawl the word ‘gay’ over the non-offensive official t-shirt of a stranger, along with many other homophobic references.

Dance Your Socs Off, now in its third year, sees organisers Societies Committee invite all societies across the University to sign up, before a big night involving eight bars along West Street and finishing at SU club the Foundry.

Built with an ethos to “involv[e] all students in the union [and] allow them to get together and have a good time,” around 1,800 students are expected for ‘Sheffield Uni’s biggest bar crawl’ this year, after 1,250 students from 25 different societies took part in 2017.

Offensive t-shirts were in abundance at EatMyDisco’s ‘North vs. Midlands vs. South’ freshers bar crawl 2018.

Ahead of DYSO 2018, SU President Lilian told Forge Press: “Societies Committee will be informing participants prior to the event that if there are offensive messages on their T-shirts they will not be able to enter Bar One or Roar.

“Our Activities Officer Cecilia will be briefing all the stewards on the bar crawl before it begins of the expectation that we have of the participants.”

EatMyDisco describe their event as the biggest bar crawl in Sheffield, claiming to sell 3,000 tickets this year. The Freshers 2018 edition saw students travel down West Street via eight bars including Molly Malones and West Street Live, before ending the night at CODE club.

This year’s DYSO will finish in Foundry, SU. Picture:Leo Bojesen

Last year’s event saw the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and The Sun among the national newspapers reporting ‘vile’ and ‘sick’ messages on t-shirts including ‘She CAN be asking for it’, ‘I touch kids’, ‘Rape me’ and ‘Maddie is in my cupboard’ – referencing the missing girl Madelaine McCann.

At the time, an EatMyDisco spokesman said: “We cannot control what individuals write on their T-shirts but naturally deplore any controversial statements or slogans which might cause offence.

“If the individuals involved can be identified to us we will do everything we can do ensure they are banned from all future bar crawls.”

EatMyDisco declined to comment on the evidence collected by Forge Press this year.

The SU’s own risk assessment for regulating DYSO 2018, seen exclusively by Forge Press, recommends that Societies Committee stewards are present in all bars and for road crossings, and for the Activities Officer “to help ensure stewards are staying sober and not putting their society at risk.”

The SU risk assessment recommends a heavy steward presence at DYSO. Picture: Ewan Somerville

It also reveals that in 2016 all participating societies provided “at least one steward”, who remained sober and in high vis, for each 25 people “to comply with the union’s drinking social policy.” The SU paid these societies 50p for each ticket sold to members, totalling £350 given.

Ms Jones added: “As a Students’ Union we take offensive or inappropriate messaging very seriously and have steps in place to ensure that this event stays what it is intended to be – an exciting way for students to socialise with their course mates or other societies.

“It is the biggest society bar crawl that takes place, and we’re looking forward to everyone’s hard work and planning paying off. The risk assessment, which was completed in March, has a section that discusses what the steps will be taken to mitigate offensive or inappropriate messages being written on T shirts.”

Tiger Works did not respond to our request for a comment.

@ewansomerville

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