The phrases lad culture and banter have been thrown around frequently in the past few years, and with the National Union of Students (NUS) investigating lad culture last year, the discussion is still active. Many institutions lack the policy to address the problems that lad culture may bring during university.
While the work of student unions and individuals across the country should not be discredited, there have been concerns over universities involvement with the issues. The government last year ordered an inquiry into how to reduce violence against women at universities, however, no solution has been suggested.
Universities have been advised to reach out to local rape crisis or sexual assault referral centres for expertise in the area. The University of Bristol and the University of West England joined-up to tackle the problem. The Vice Chancellors of the universities have released a joint statement in association with their student unions, which states a commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and violence.
Research on lad culture found that this problem which affects 12% of male and 37% of female students will hopefully change as time goes on.
The issue of harassment and violence is only the tip of the iceberg as young individual’s attitudes and ideologies are not considered. Many young students will follow in the footsteps of those around them, those they have grown up with and repeat the behaviour. To fully address the issues surrounding sexual harassment and crime, universities and further and secondary education need to work with students before they reach degree level to achieve results.
However, gender is not only the victim of lad culture, harassment and violence on campus, those who do not identify as heterosexual are also affected. One in five LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) students say that they have experienced some form of bullying, and/or harassment at university, with the number being higher as one in three for transgender students, according to research by the NUS.
Additionally, three-quarters of transgender students say they don’t feel completely safe on their campus, and half of the students have considered dropping out of university entirely. PACE – a mental health charity for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people, carried out a UK survey on mental health found that nearly half of young transgender people who responded to the survey had attempted suicide.
Conversations surrounding lad culture can stir groups and individuals who believe it to be a harmless and fun culture, however, who is really having fun, and at whose expense?
Once students attend university they are at the beginning of their adult life and their attitudes and ideas of what is morally right and wrong will be harder to alter or adapt. The battle for equality and the disappearance of sexual harassment and violence at university needs to begin before it gets too late.
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