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NUS and leading womens' campaigners tackle lad culture at national summit

Friday 21 February 2014 Women

NUS is today bringing together Laura Bates (Everyday Sexism) Lucy Holmes (No More Page 3), The Great Initiative, Girlguiding, the Fword and The Good Lad as part of the ‘NUS Lad Culture Summit for students and students’ unions in higher education.

The summit comes almost a year since the publication of the ground breaking NUS report ‘That’s what she said – women students’ experiences of lad culture in higher education’. As the main recommendation from the research, the summit will generate action from discussion, providing the platform for the next step – recruiting a National Strategy Team to tackle lad culture on campus.

Minister for Women and Equalities Jenny Willott said:

That’s what she said’ paints a disturbing picture of the impact of ‘lad culture’ on both women and men on campus. Students should not feel diminished, disrespected or unsafe in their places of learning, and it is vital that such behaviour is challenged. 

“Students' unions and universities should work together to create a climate that is welcoming and supportive to all, and it’s great that NUS is hosting this summit as part of that.”

Speaking at the event NUS President Toni Pearce said:

“We are truly in a position to change not only the future of education, but the future of society, through supporting and developing women leaders as role models and change makers.

“However there are many hurdles to be crossed before we can achieve this, and lad culture on campus will never be tackled unless we work together – all students - to confront it, using the National Strategy Team to facilitate this.”

Keynote speaker Laura Bates, The Everyday Sexism Project and National Strategy Ambassador said:

“It is absolutely vital to address the problem of lad culture at UK universities head on. Recent events, from the 'Fresher's Violation' club night advertised with a video of a male student saying he would rape a female peer, to university drinking societies going out in casual rape T-shirts and playing 'it's not rape if...' drinking games, to name but a few, make it clear that these are not isolated occurrences but part of a larger culture that risks having a serious negative impact on students' academic experiences.

“For too long this kind of behaviour has been dismissed as 'boys being boys' but to describe it as such is insulting to the vast majority of young men, and unhelpful to the female students who desperately need support and real action. For this reason I wholeheartedly welcome the National Union of Students' proactive response to this issue, from undertaking research to reveal the extent of the problem to developing a national strategy to tackle it. I am proud to be the National Strategy Ambassador"

No more page 3 campaigner Lucy Holmes said:

“Organisations working together is the way forward. NUS, Everyday Sexism, Girl Guides and No More Page 3 sounds like a bit of dream team. Since the NUS published the powerful report ‘That’s what she said’ they have shown a real and robust ‘what can we do about this?’ attitude that’s been incredibly inspiring to see.

“Students are approaching this difficult and ingrained problem with creativity, vigour and sensitivity. I am so pleased to be part of the National Strategy Team”

Sarah Perry, Great Men Value Women Project Manager, The Great Initiative said:

“Through their research and the summit, NUS has called attention to the prevalence of lad culture and opens discussion on its less-than-funny implications.

“We are excited by NUS’ plans to establish a National Strategy Team, which The GREAT Initiative is pleased to be a part of to generate action from the discussion and to help facilitate a learning environment at university that prioritises equality and respect. It is important to include boys and men in the discussions surrounding lad culture as one way in which it surfaces is as an emphasis and exaggeration of stereotyped masculinity.”

Girlguiding advocate Bijal Rama, 24 from Bolton said:

"I and the other Girlguiding Advocates drew remarkable parallels with the experiences of the girls quoted in the NUS That’s What She Said’ report. This is backed by the findings of the Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2014 which found that exposure to sexual harassment increases sharply with age – just over half of 13-year-olds report experiencing such behaviour (54 per cent), rising to 80 per cent of 19- to 21-year-olds.

“We are extremely excited that Girlguiding is working with No More Page 3, Everyday Sexism and NUS to make a positive change. Together we can work to tackle sexism in different areas of society and represent the voices of girls and young women across the UK."