LSE Rugby Club disbanded over misogynist leaflets

Rachel Balmer 14 October 2014

The London School of Economics (LSE) has disbanded its rugby club after members handed out leaflets at the Freshers’ Fair which made homophobic and misogynistic references.

This has come after a wave of scandals about university drinking societies, including at Cambridge.

The rugby club flyer referred to women as “mingers”, “trollops” and “slags,” and labelled girls who play sport as “beast-like.” Furthermore, jokes were made about not tolerating “outright homosexual debauchery” in initiations. Emphatic elitist comments are also made, referring to students at the “poly” who are “scum” and “will all work for us one day.”

The leaflets were confiscated after widespread uproar amongst fellow students over the derogatory slurs. The university made the decision to disband the club for an academic year after no-one took responsibility for writing the leaflet. An inquiry has been launched by both the university and LSE’s student union. It has since been revealed that the club had a controversial history, including participating in Nazi-themed drinking games.

The club have apologised for their actions, saying that its members “have a lot to learn about the pernicious effects of ‘banter’”, and have agreed to cooperate fully with the inquiry.

The club's disbandment comes in the light of other news stories which suggest a ‘lad culture’ among some Cambridge students.  Emmanuel college’s drinking society sent out emails which made derogatory references to women, such as promising “female demand for Emmanuel penis”. Members apologised, but argued that the email was a satire.

A Churchill Bulldogs’ fresher swap has also been banned by their Senior Tutor Richard Partington, who suggested in an email that their behaviour was “unsavoury”.

Suzanna Beaupre, co-founder of the gender discussion group at St Catharine’s college, welcomed the disbanding of the club, describing their activities as “disgraceful” and “shocking.” She added that “the fact no individual would come forward indicates clearly how lad culture can develop in bigger groups… hopefully the event will allow discussion on how lad culture is perpetuated in universities. If this issue is not addressed then the journey needed to deal with the gender imbalance will take far longer.”

Speaking on lad culture Amelia Horgan, Women’s officer at CUSU, said as part of a statement: “While [events at LSE] might seem like a one-off event, quickly resolved by the disbanding of the club, those of us who experience the casual bigotry of some self-proclaimed lads can confirm such behaviour to be a very regular occurrence…Here at Cambridge 'lad culture' often plays itself out within drinking societies and sports clubs, normally involving a posturing, swaggering masculinity that declares rape jokes 'banter' and degrades women.”