I filmed the Cavendish chants: here’s my perspective

Most of you will, by now, have seen the footage and extensive media coverage of the recent chauvinistic chants led by Week One reps. You will also, as I have, read the Impact Comment article criticising the resulting disciplinary measures as “too harsh”. As the person who filmed the video, here’s my take on this.

Whilst the SU’s response initially seemed indifferent, their formal investigation has since led to the Week One reps being fined. I have to say, I’m pleased about this. It addressed the issue head-on and forced the reps to take responsibility for their actions. Some may think this is unfair, but it is important to remember that the reps chose to breach their contracts. Even if you weren’t offended by the chants, this alone should make the fines justified.

In fact, to my knowledge, anyone found to be singing it will be fined. Hopefully this will cause people to finally realise the severity of the issue, even if they don’t understand why the chant is wrong.

If you don’t understand why it is banned, you represent wider problematic and concerning social attitudes

What did strike me as unfair was that one medical student was singled out, despite many others singing the chant. They were threatened with a hearing which could lead to them being kicked off their course. One person being punished so severely is unnecessary and unfair at this point.

As to why I found the chant problematic: Referencing sex is not concerning to me; I am not a prude, despite the Cavendish rep’s patronising acknowledgment of the chant being “a bit naughty”. However, the way in which women are ‘fucked’ throughout the chant is just disrespectful. What astonishes me is the ignorance with which so many students sang it, even after finding out that it was banned. If you don’t understand why it is banned, you represent wider problematic and concerning social attitudes.

I am a feminist which means that I want equality. This means equal treatment of both women and men, although unfortunately, women face the brunt of the inequality. My issue with the chant, therefore, is not only its disgusting content, but its encouragement of ‘lad’ culture (don’t make me laugh) and the overall objectification of women.

Having said that, I haven’t experienced many other incidents of sexism so far. One boy did wince when I told him that I was a feminist and was surprised when I told him that most of my close friends are boys: my main defence against the stigma that feminists are ‘man-haters’. A key reason for this is probably that most of my male friends do not exhibit the sexist behaviour or language which I have seen in other boys.

What did antagonise me enormously was a boy suggesting that my role in our group project be ‘CCO: Chief Cleaning Officer’. Failing that, he suggested, ‘Chief Refreshments Officer’. Needless to say, I was not amused by his purposeful antagonism. Moments such as those assure me that punishment of indecent behaviour towards women, or anyone, should definitely be harsh for instigators.

I look forward to a day when the encouragement of idiocy and misogyny is not rife on campus and in wider society

I’ve experienced mixed reactions throughout the student community to the release of the video itself. There’s hasn’t been any obvious backlash towards me personally, other than a letter being slipped under my door. It was largely uninformed about my part in the media coverage and, especially, my supposed part in the punishments of perpetrators. What’s more, it was written anonymously, so I have no way of clearing these things up face-to-face with this person.

My group of friends, on the other hand, are all against the chant as well. They are pleased that there is an investigation and they are proud of my coming forward with the video. The article that Impact reported led to a Guardian interview and many other news teams picking up the story for themselves, including the BBC.

In the end, I’m hoping that this will lead to change. I’m hoping that I will no longer have to hear the chant, but I also hope that no future freshers will hear it either. As for ‘lad’ culture in general, I look forward to a day when the encouragement of idiocy and misogyny is not rife on campus and in wider society.


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2 Comments on this post.
  • Anonymous BSc(Hons), MA, QTS
    25 October 2014 at 11:32
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    I thought this sort of behaviour was confined to the changing rooms of the Rugby pavilion. I am fully in agreement with the original complainant; in addition, I see the relevance of specifically singling-out the medical student(s) involved. I would not wish to have surgery performed on any part of my anatomy by those who see fit to behave in such a manner. This from a man sometimes criticised in his workplace staffrooms for having excessively “liberal” opinions and values.

    A graduate and postgraduate alumnus of three British universities (none of them Nottingham), I cannot say that this behaviour would serve to endear me to the prospect of study at Nottingham.

    The fines imposed are not unreasonable, indeed, given the language and attitudes inherent in the chants, I would expect a Court of law to pass rather higher charges on grounds both both of profanity and public order. Certainly not the way I would expect students of a civilised university to behave. Comparable to the Bullingdon brigade? I don’t recall comparing Oxford to a civilised university.

  • Peter Donk
    26 October 2014 at 18:03
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    My daughter Jessica was one of the reps who was punished . The way she was treated reduced her to tears at least twice and left her distraught. I hope that when you make a mistake , which will happen , this will be met with more wisdom , kindness and consideration.

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