Sunday, 9 December 2012

University Responses to Freshers' Week Sexism: Conclusion

A last minute response from the University of Brighton.

University of Brighton:

I do apologise for not getting back to you earlier. The start of term is always incredibly busy. I firstly wanted to say that these events are organised by an external company called Carnage and have nothing whatsoever to do with universities or their students’ union. We do not endorse these events.

At the University of Brighton we are mindful of our responsibility to the community and to the health, safety and wellbeing of our students. We work proactively to tackle any problems with regards to student disruption and noise before they become issues. We have assigned our own police officer and PCSO to work with neighbourhood policing teams across the county. This puts us in a good position to deal with any potential problems swiftly. We also work closely with Environmental Health Teams in the towns in which we operate. We also have a community liaison team which works with local communities.

Many of our students undertake volunteering work as part of their courses and large numbers of our students are working in the community as trainee teachers, nurses and doctors, giving back to the city.

That sounds like someone very accustomed to supplying responses to local paper The Argus' commenters' negativity towards students.

I'll warrant it's probably the same with local papers all over the country. Every September/October time students fill up the cities with vomit and tight trousers and fashionable hairdos that they got with an NHS discount from Toni & Guy and residents moan away. But it's good for local businesses. So whadja gonna do. The students are revolting.

Word Cloud - idea from Dan Leech

I ended up creating a standard reply to the Universities:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond to my letter.

I am delighted about the positive action you are taking and I hope you continue to see similarly positive results.

It appears from the majority of replies I have received so far that it is largely external companies such as Carnage, that are at fault, rather than Student Unions themselves, so I'll be tackling these in due course. In the meantime if you know of any other companies promoting distasteful events you think I should be writing to please feel free to get in touch.

Thanks again for responding in what I know is a very busy time of year for Universities.

I think it's fairly clear I've been committing the very act I've been so annoyed at others for doing: preaching to the converted. Of course Union Reps have the students' best interests at heart. It's companies such as Carnage, whose name has popped up time and time again, that need to be told to change.

But there's always money to be found in portraying females as sex objects. Men enjoy it, some women enjoy playing the role. It would take decades of conditioning to change this. Feminism should perhaps be taught in schools, alongside sex education perhaps.

I'm now going to sound like a pensioner and say a thing the teenage me would wince at; but today's role models aren't helping.

I mean, what the fuck, Ri-Ri.

Take a gander at this 'ere police report about the altercation involving her talentless douchebag of a boy-'friend', Chris Brown.

Actually Laura Bates had a word to say about Chris Brown as well.

This is normalisation of sexist attitudes and it should fucking stop.

What next? My plan is to take a break from this for a while, then perhaps write to local Councils, research events organisers such as C*rn*g* and write to them also to ask what the fuck they think they're up to, perhaps interview students to ask if their opinion of their University differs from the modern, politically correct, all-inclusive sanctuary that press officers and marketing departments spend so long honing and promoting.

I think the lesson to be learnt here is to choose who to attack wisely. No point blowing a load of hot air in the face of someone on your side.

Unfortunately I couldn't go on the Reclaim the Night walk (other obligations and the sciatica - which is easing up actually, I'm pleased to report - getting in the way). All good stuff, but as commenters point out, why do this in a place as relaxed and tolerant as Brighton? Preaching to the converted. Again.

Last week I went for a walk before work and was harrassed. I stopped to take a picture of a shoe tree.


A guy came up to me and asked me to take a picture of him with the tree. Then he had a chat about the shoe tree and the restoration of the Level, practically standing on my shoes as he did so. I sensed something a little odd about him. He said, "are you going this way?" I lied and said I was going the other way. He decided to walk with me. Then he took a picture of me and muttered something about 'hot'. I eventually escaped, lying again that I'd be late for work.

I get some form of this on a weekly basis. I think having funny-coloured hair makes every weird fucker think they can chat me up. I know I'm not supposed to do the 'blaming' thing but let's be realistic here. Still, I'm not going to alter my appearance accordingly, I'm just going to change the way I deal with these people. Like not allowing them to take pictures of me. Next time your phone's going up in the tree as well mate.

I don't plan on having children myself, but I'd like to do little things here and there to improve matters for the next generation. Like writing to every University in the country to ask 'wtf'. Hopefully this will inspire people to commit similar acts.

And now I shall return to blogging about make up and drinking games.