NO- Will Scott
When thinking of this question far too many people just think of Clowns on a Wednesday night, and fail to look at the bigger picture. However this point can be easily addressed. Just because the guys are louder doesn’t mean that the girls aren’t boozing as much! There are also a large number of mixed teams who’ll go on socials together, or situations where separate teams will do a mixed social where the girls are just as comfortable as the guys. So to attribute any rowdy and “laddy” behavior solely to the male half of the AU wouldn’t be fair. Surely by having girls behave in a similar way the term “laddy” is no longer valid.
I believe that the previously discussed behaviour stems from the fact that this is an AU we’re talking about. These are the most competitive people within the university, choosing to represent the university and dedicate a lot of time and effort to their sport of choice. Therefore of course, when you have several teams gathered in one place, they’re going to try to out-do each other; it’s the nature of having so many competitive people in one place. This is also then likely to happen within individual teams too – everyone wants to do one better than the guy next to him, so it can build up to some quite ridiculous things happening.
Unfortunately the nature of the beast is that only the worst examples will be remembered and spoken about. Somebody suggesting that maybe one more pint of snakebite isn’t a good idea, or taking away that 7th jesticle and replacing it with a glass of water just doesn’t make a good story. I’m not suggesting that praise should be poured upon those who do behave sensibly – after all it’s just somebody doing the right thing. However in my experience of the AU there are more instances of sorting somebody out who’s possibly not in the best place, and more suggestions of certain antics not being the most female/race/sexuality-friendly, than the unfortunate and rare black spot.
Whilst drinking forms a large part of university life, and an even larger one within the AU, to say that it reaches an intimidating level is subjective. As somebody who didn’t drink for all of first year and a large portion of second year, in my personal experience the acceptance level doesn’t vary based on alcohol consumption. Yes, doing something crazy on a social will make you more memorable to seniors, but it doesn’t affect whether you’re accepted or not. I played for two teams, both with a large reputation for getting rowdy on a Wednesday night, and in both of these I felt that I was accepted far more for my quality on the field of play than anything else, which is the way it should be.
YES- Jack Pethick
Whenever the topic of ‘lad culture’ is discussed, the same sorts of debates always seem to rear their heads: It depends on your own definition of what a ‘lad’ is; Is there a definitive line between banter and abuse; and is it that people who criticise ‘lad culture’ are just boring and oversensitive people, or is it that those who fit within the bracket of ‘lad culture’ have lost sight of what is acceptable and have become disillusioned with what indeed is banter and what is just outright offensive? However, the AU of course includes both male and female teams, so in this instance, the term ‘ladness’ or ‘laddy’ can’t really apply. I suppose what we are asking therefore is this: is there too much unacceptable behaviour – regardless of whether or not it’s form gents or ladies – which goes past the boundaries of merely banter within the AU?
The debate as to where the AU stands in terms of it’s own ‘ladness’ and whether or it is too distant from SUSU has been a topic of huge debate in recent years (the fact that we are even debating it within an article should be enough to suggest that it must be in some capacity). It was a topic that was discussed in the SUSU elections this year amongst the VP Sports candidates, with some candidates last year going as far as proposing the idea of ‘Team Southampton Contracts’ in order to deal with issues of misconduct and attempt to bridge what seems the ever-increasing gap between SUSU and the AU. In addition, it was also debated as to whether the AU lacks overall unity, with regards to whether socials or the games come first, and that as a consequence, there is not the same level of respect or achievement when becoming a ‘Team Southampton’ player as there is at other Universities such as Durham or Loughborough. Even if you’re not involved in the AU, the fact that such issues are even discussed at the elections, should be enough alone to perhaps tell you that certain clubs within the AU have indeed crossed the line on too many occasions.
Earlier this year, SUSU took disciplinary action against the men’s hockey club, following an “unacceptable” and offensive email sent by the club. The Men’s Hockey Club had to publicly apologise, undergo equality and diversity training and pay a fine of around £500. The statement followed a disciplinary hearing, in which the club pled guilty to the charges of breaking University and Union rules. In addition, the club also were forced to get involved in the #SotonSpeakUp campaign against sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour during nights out. Furthermore, in 2014, the committee of Southampton University Football Club organised a social event at which two members of the Club wore costumes that involved the use of “blackface”, causing a breach of good order – again disciplinary action was taken. Now, of course these are isolated incidents and only highlight two clubs out of the many that make up the AU as a whole, but these are just two incidents that happened to picked up upon by SUSU, there are numerous incidents that happen on a regular basis which although are passed around the group emails and tell him/tell her Facebook pages, never seem to be picked up upon by the powers that be. This in itself is perhaps enough to suggest that the AU and SUSU have become too distant and are now effectively two separate entities.
Finally, although drinking is almost a fundamental aspect of uni life, sometimes the sheer scale of the drinking done by certain clubs within the AU – particularly in their initiations – can be quite intimidating to new players and genuinely deter some people from joining. This is not to say that AU teams won’t accept you if you don’t drink, but there is almost a sense that if you don’t you will be left out of virtually every social and therefore not be as strongly involved in the social side of the team as much as you may like to be. This goes for both the male and female teams in the AU, and arguably deters many potential athletes from representing what we should be proud of rather than questioning as we are now: the ‘Team Southampton’ brand.