LSE closes rugby club after homophobic and misogynistic flyer

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The rugby club at the prestigious London School of Economics has been disbanded following the distribution of flyers containing homophobic and misogynistic language.

The leaflets were given out by the London School of Economics (LSE) men’s rugby team last week.

As well as making offensive remarks about other nearby universities, the leaflets described members of female sports teams as “beast-like women who play sport just so they can come out with us on Wednesdays”.

LSE Leaflet 2

In a section about social activities, the leaflet specified: “We do not tolerate Poly activities that involve faeces, genetalia and outright homosexual debauchery.”

In other sections, women were described as “sloppy birds”, “slags” and “mingers”.

The leaflets caused a storm of controversy on social media, with many accusing the rugby team of being sexist and homophobic.

Today, Nona Buckley-Irvine, LSE Students’ Union’s General Secretary, said: “After considered deliberation and a wide investigation, LSE Men’s Rugby Club will be disbanded for the rest of the academic year and not be allowed to represent LSE or LSESU. They will be withdrawn from any competitions already entered into.”

The rugby club on Monday published an apology in the university’s paper the Beaver, admitting the “offensive and stigmatising language”, and saying that it did not reflect the values of the club.

“LSE Men’s Rugby does not tolerate misogyny, racism, homophobia or prejudice of any description and the Club remains committed to the LSE’s equal opportunities policy.

“Clearly, on this occasion we not only failed ourselves, but the university which we are so proud to represent.

“We can see that the language used in that leaflet must have alienated many potential members and we are ashamed and saddened by that.”

The full statement from the LSE Students’ Union General Secretary is found below:-

“After considered deliberation and a wide investigation, LSE Men’s Rugby Club will be disbanded for the rest of the academic year and not be allowed to represent LSE or LSESU. They will be withdrawn from any competitions already entered into.

These decisions are not easy. However, it is right for our Athletics’ Union, our Students’ Union, and the university to make this move. We hope that this will enable our community to draw a line under this incident, and focus on the overwhelmingly positive contribution that other sports clubs have on our time at LSE.

The booklets distributed by the Rugby Club are clearly sexist, and demonstrate a culture within a club that is unable to challenge misogyny, sexism and homophobia. This culture, and how leaders within the Club have allowed it to prevail, has brought shame onto the Club itself, the Athletics’ Union and the wider student community.

It is important to note that in our investigations with members, the Club was blamed as the body who produced, edited, and gave out the booklet. Not one person within the Club was willing to take personal responsibility for the booklets. In this case, responsibility does have to fall onto both individuals and the Club as a whole, and individuals will be sanctioned separately in addition to this decision concerning the Club.

The persistence in which the Club references ‘polys’ and abusing ‘polys’ is not fitting of the LSE community. This snobbery towards students from other universities is unacceptable. The LSE is a great institution, but that doesn’t excuse elitism or classism. The perpetrators should know that they are extremely lucky to have been granted a place at one of the country’s top universities, and references such as these are a complete abuse of their privileged position.

What makes this incident even more shocking is that is so far removed from the experiences of over 2,500 students playing for over 50 sports clubs at LSE.

These sanctions will be part of a wider programme of positive action. The impact of this controversy has affected the AU and our community in an unprecedented fashion. Our reputation needs to be upheld, and our strong positive sporting atmosphere highlighted. LSE sport is fantastic; the actions of a minority do not stand for clubs as a whole. We will work with clubs to highlight our successes, our positive social events, and the leaders within them.

Now it is time to draw the line over the negativities that the conduct of some in LSE Men’s Rugby club has brought to campus. Disbanding the club is the only step that will really allow us to do this. This is not permanent as we have a responsibility to enable students who want to play rugby for LSE the opportunity to do so – but our greater obligation is to lay to rest the existing culture and seek to establish a new one for the club. We hope that this will create a fantastic opportunity to start anew in a year’s time.

These past few days have been incredibly difficult. But, we have been so proud to stand together as a Union and be able to discuss these issues and openly condemn acts of misogyny, sexism, homophobia, and classism. The hosting of women’s only and LGBT only spaces is indicative of a Union of students that want to work together to be an inclusive, positive community. We are a strong, diverse, and active community. We can lead the way. It’s time to start moving forward together in really tackling issues of discrimination, and together we can.”
Nona Buckley-Irvine, LSE Students’ Union’s General Secretary