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LSE men's rugby club disbanded after flyer controversy

8th October 2014
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The men’s rugby club at the London School of Economics has been temporarily disbanded after a leaflet with homophobic and misogynistic overtones caused fury.

The leaflet, which appeared on twitter last week after allegedly being passed around during freshers’ week, called students at nearby King’s College “scum”, as well as referring to female students as “rugby birds” and “beast-like women who play sport just so they can come out with us on Wednesdays, and don’t let them tell you otherwise.”

It also read that “poly activities” such as “homophobic debauchery” would not be tolerated.

The leaflet was immediately condemned by students and social media users, with leader of LSE’s feminist society Natalie Nunn stating that she “couldn't even get angry because it was just so unsurprising” and LGBT officer Alex Leung saying that it had “crossed a line.”

The university’s female rugby club released a statement on twitter on Monday in which they expressed their outrage – but also called out elements of the “hypocritical” press that had failed to differentiate between the male and female teams, appearing to assume that “there is not a female rugby team” at LSE:

 

Yesterday LSE Students’ Union’s General Secretary Nona Buckley-Irvine released a statement confirming that the club would be “disbanded for the rest of the academic year and not be allowed to represent LSE or LSESU” and “will be withdrawn from any competitions already entered into.”

The team will now not be able to compete until September 2015.

The “clearly sexist” leaflet demonstrated that the club had “brought shame” on itself and was “unable to challenge misogyny, sexism and homophobia”, according to the statement.

It went on to reveal that after an investigation is was made clear that no one member was responsible for the publication, but that the leaflet had been created by the club and that individual action will now be taken accordingly, alongside the club’s disbanding.

Referring to the mention of King’s College London as “Strand Polytechnic”, Buckley-Irvine said that this was “not fitting of the LSE community” and that “this snobbery towards students from other universities is unacceptable. The LSE is a great institution, but that doesn’t excuse elitism or classism.”

The statement also made it clear that the majority of the 2,500 students who play sport on LSE’s 50 teams do not share the views of the rugby club, and that action will now be taken through the Athletics Union to “highlight our successes, our positive social events, and the leaders within them.”

The decision came after “considered deliberation and a wide investigation”, according to Buckley-Irvine, and she added that she hopes that “this will enable our community to draw a line under this incident, and focus on the overwhelmingly positive contribution that other sports clubs have on our time at LSE.”

She ended the statement by saying that “Our actions in disbanding the club demonstrate the seriousness of the situation, and our commitment to challenging cultures that allow misogyny, sexism or homophobia to exist. However, we do want students at LSE to play rugby - but our greater obligation is to lay to rest the existing culture and seek to establish a new one for the club. We hope that this will create a fantastic opportunity to start anew in a year’s time.

“These past few days have been incredibly difficult. But, we have been so proud to stand together as a Union and be able to discuss these issues and openly condemn acts of misogyny, sexism, homophobia, and classism. The hosting of women’s only and LGBT only spaces is indicative of a Union of students that want to work together to be an inclusive, positive community. We are a strong, diverse, and active community. We can lead the way. It’s time to start moving forward together in really tackling issues of discrimination, and together we can.”




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