Students have said that Cambridge is no exception to the National Union of Students’ study on “lad culture” in university social life.
The issue was raised after the Kent Union this week withdrew a summer ball poster that depicted a frightened girl in a short dress looking at the ground in an empty car park, with the slogan “someone will lose their friends”. It was deemed “disgusting” by the NUS.
The organisation also held a summit on lad culture in February and in a related survey, 50% of students claimed that “prevailing sexism, ‘laddism’ and a culture of harassment” was prevalent at their university.
Saskia Pain, a first year at Trinity Hall, noted that the concern of lad culture in clubs was raised in her college’s recent Feminist Forum: "Alongside the usual manifestations of lad culture, such as being harassed in clubs or catcalled, female students spoke about how official college drinking and sports societies, and the attitudes of some faculty and college staff legitimised and perpetuated lad culture, in a way that was really shocking.
“More specifically, about lad culture in clubs in Cambridge: drinking and sports society swaps were felt by many to objectify female students and further the atmosphere of the clubs in Cambridge which can make so many women feel uncomfortable and harassed.”
Suzanne Eames, a second year in Downing’s drinking society, The Orchids, told The Cambridge Student: “I wouldn’t have said that clubs promote this kind of thing, it’s more students who push it.”
Yet she added: “It does come out in swap themes though, and sports teams nights out, that kind of thing. People speak out about it way more in Cambridge than anywhere else I’ve been. Compared to Manchester, there’s a lot more awareness here. But it is generally accepted. I’m not sure that anyone’s saying anything that will make a difference.”
Other advertisements considered by the NUS Summit and the Guardian include a depiction of a woman in a PVC bra for a “sluts and geeks” night and a half-naked woman looking seductively at the camera for a “CEOs and corporate hoes” night. Yet the Advertising Standards Agency told the Guardian that they do not receive a “huge number” of complaints about student advertising.