A proposal to ban Varsity chants is being put to vote at SU Council next Thursday.
The proposal, drafted by SU president Christy McMorrow, states that all classist and sexist chants should be stopped at Varsity events. Classist chants including: “stand up if you know your Dad”, “the wheels on your house go round and round” as well as sexist chants which “would be better not repeated”, will not be tolerated at Varsity matches in the future.
“All of our students should feel comfortable engaging with sport at University.”
The proposal continues, stating that the SU believes “that all of our students should feel comfortable engaging with sport at University, regardless of class, gender or any other part of their identity” and banning offensive chants at Varsity matches would go part of the way to achieving it.
McMorrow, when talking to Forge Press said: “It’s vital that our SU and University are inclusive to all our members, whatever their background and whatever their interests. We wouldn’t treat classism or sexism as acceptable in our nightclub, our societies or our elections. The same should be true for sport. I hope this policy will not only help make varsity more inclusive, but improve our sports teams as a result.”
Loud, passionate and fun
However, many sportsmen and women seem to avidly disagree with McMorrow’s proposal. One councillor, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that he has received “desperate messages” from Hockey players, asking councillors to “vote against the proposal in next week’s council meeting.”
Rowing captain, James Palmer thinks the proposal is “a load of rubbish.” He argued that “sporting events are, by their very nature, loud, passionate and fun, and prone to getting people excited.” Despite the claims that Varsity is not inclusive due to chants, Palmer believes that he’s “convinced that no members of either University are greatly offended by any chants, and that our Varsity is exceptionally friendly between the Universities.”
For him, “chanting is, for the want of a better word, “banter”, that is far greater enjoyed by all than it upsets people.” He also suggested that “perhaps, if we are to move on the SU Committee’s suggestion, we should also compete in a manner to aim for a draw, so nobody feels disheartened, and not clap too loudly when one of our teams score?”
Many more captains of university teams have come forward to Forge Press, including Chris Taylor, the Boxing Captain. He thinks that the proposal “is another case of the fun police censoring what we can and can’t say because they get offended on someone else’s behalf.”
He also believes that the Varsity atmosphere “just wouldn’t be the same with a hushed silence because people fear being thrown out of the event for saying a bad word. In reality they are just jokes.”
Never okay to be derogatory
Joel Ghandi, Hockey Captain, is another sportsmen who has spoken to Forge Press. He said he could “understand where the union are coming from with regards to breaking down sexism/classism, extremely important to the inclusivity of sport in general” however, still thinks that “the chants don’t enforce gender or class gaps and they certainly don’t encourage sexism or classism.”
“Although the chants at Varsity are mostly inoffensive and in good spirit, there are times when they can be classist, misogynistic and sexist.”
Welfare Officer, Gabi Binnie, takes a balanced approach to the proposal, highlighting both the pros and the cons: “Although the chants at Varsity are mostly inoffensive and in good spirit, there are times when they can be classist, misogynistic and sexist – a particularly bad example this year was by Hallam supporters against Uni Of cheerleaders. Passing policy against them shows that the SU never thinks there is a time when it is ok to be derogatory to others and can help encourage Hallam SU to do the same.”
She continued, considering the other side of the argument: “on the other hand, outlawing chanting may just be completely un policeable (taking up staff and committee time) and add to students feeling disillusioned with the SU, or could even decrease the atmosphere and engagement at our varsity matches.”
The proposal will go to vote next Thursday at SU Council. Is Varsity chanting just harmless “banter”, or is it damaging to members of the student body? Let us know in the comments below.
Stay tuned with Forge Press for updates on this story as it unfolds.