Student officer suspended after photos of offensive T-shirts at social were published

Photos reveal a group from a student society with slogans mocking murder and sexual assault

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 19 November 2018 23:29 GMT

An officer at Lancaster University students’ union has been suspended after pictures were released of students wearing T-shirts with offensive jokes mocking murder and sexual assault victims.

The photographs, which emerged last week, showed Lancaster University students wearing white T-shirts with slogans – including “Sandyhook woz bantz” and “Mandela touched kids” – on a night out.

A part-time student officer was suspended following the unauthorised release of “confidential material” about the social, organised by the Snowsports Society, at a club run by the students’ union.

More than 1,700 people have signed a petition which argues that the officer republished the photos – which were first shared on the club’s Facebook page before they were removed – as they felt the investigation was taking “too long” and the union had “not effectively communicated” with the community.

The petition calls on the university to reverse the suspension of the officer and to take “decisive control” of the situation by taking a clear agenda against “hate speech”.

Lancaster University students’ union has issued a range of formal sanctions against the Snowsports Society – including making executive members issue an apology and undertake hate speech training.

It came after a new code of conduct panel agreed that the behaviour of students on the social was “absolutely unacceptable and against the values of the students’ union”.

The university will now consider whether further disciplinary action will be initiated for individuals.

A statement from Lancaster University students’ union said: “We would like to be very clear that the behaviour of some of the students involved in this social was completely unacceptable.

“Members of the club have acknowledged that they made a serious error of judgment and have expressed remorse for their behaviour.”

A spokesperson for Lancaster University said: “The outcome of the students’ union investigation was delayed by the leaking of information and the need to form a new code of conduct panel.

“Whilst we are aware of the strength of feeling about this issue, and share the sense of abhorrence at what has happened, it is nevertheless vitally important that both the students’ union and the university follow the correct procedures rather than rushing to make conclusions.”

They added: “The matter now lies with the University and we will begin our own investigation and will be reviewing the evidence gathered by the students’ union.

“Where our processes conclude there has been a breach of university regulations we will take action.”

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